Focus on Fibre

My 14 month old suffers from constipation. I have been advised to increase her dietary fibre intake. Which foods are high in fibre?

Dietary fibre has an important role in both preventing and treating constipation, and for overall gut health. It works by trapping water in the stool to make it softer and by making the stool more bulky which helps it to move along the gut more efficiently.

There are 2 types of fibre, soluble fibre and insoluble fibre. Both types should be included in the diet. Soluble fibre is found mainly in fruit, vegetables, including pulse vegetables such as peas, beans and lentils, and oats. Insoluble fibre is found mainly in cereal foods such as wholemeal bread, wholegrain cereals, wholegrain pasta, wholegrain crackers and brown rice.

So by including a fibre rich breakfast cereal, possibly oat based, wholemeal bread, pasta or rice, and several servings of fruit and vegetables on a daily basis, your child’s diet should promote normal bowel habit.

It is also important to encourage a good fluid intake to treat or prevent constipation. There are factsheets on drinks for children of all ages, which include information on how to gauge if your child has an adequate fluid intake, available on www.indi.ie. Be aware that fibre can be very filling, and if fibre intake is excessive, it may reduce your child’s appetite for other nourishing foods. Also too much fibre can interfere with absorption of some nutrients.

This fact sheet from the british Dietetic Association provides information on the fibre content of foods.

A Paediatric Registered Dietitian can give further advice on getting the balance right. Click here to make an appointment.

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