Why Fiber and Probiotics Help with Kids’ Regularity and Digestive Health*
Disclaimer – The information in this article is intended solely for educational purposes. Culturelle® products are not intended to diagnose, mitigate, treat, cure, or prevent diseases. Inform a healthcare professional before starting any dietary supplement.
The relationship we have with our gut is one that’s here to stay. So it’s worth investing in it – listening to what it needs, and making adjustments to keep our bodies in balance. These needs change over time, and this is how we learn what works best. When we love our gut, it loves us back.
Have you listened to your gut lately?
We’ve been told for years to increase our fibre intake, but do we ever stop to wonder why? Well, there’s evidence that getting enough fibre can benefit your digestion and in turn your health. These benefits are helped by the millions of bacteria that live in your digestive system. Together, all the microbes in the intestines are referred to as the gut microbiome, believed to be another organ that’s important to our health1. But not all fibres are the same, so it’s worth learning about the different types and the ways they can benefit our health.
Dietary fibre refers to the non-digestible carbohydrates2 found in plant based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. Although the terms 'soluble' and 'insoluble' fibre are still used today, some fibres vary in their solubility depending on the source and level of processing. The fermentable status of fibre is considered a more relevant indicator of how it affects your gut health, and fibres can be classified as ‘more fermentable’ or ‘less fermentable’. Less fermentable fibre does not blend with water and passes through the digestive system mostly intact. It’s found in wheat bran, nuts, apples, citrus fruit and whole grains. Fermentable fibre blends with water in the gut, forming a gel-like substance. It’s found in oat bran, seeds, beans, lentils and peas, as well as some fruits and vegetables.
The gut microbiota may be affected by the consumption of some dietary fibres, since gut bacteria ferment some of these fibres.
In addition to helping to keep you regular, fibre also optimizes the function of the friendly or ‘good’ bacteria in your gut. How? Let’s first take a closer look at bacteria3.
They live in many parts of the body, but most bacteria are in the gut, primarily the large intestine. Our bodies ‘host’ bacteria by providing food and a safe environment where they can thrive. In return, they perform some functions that the human body can’t do alone. Just like us, bacteria need food for energy so they can function as intended. But most of the carbohydrates, proteins and fats we consume are absorbed into the bloodstream before reaching the large intestine, leaving the bacteria in our gut empty-handed4.
It does the body good
This is where fibre comes in. Remember how the body can’t digest fibre? This means that when we eat it, it reaches the large intestine relatively unchanged. And the bacteria here DO have the ability to digest many of these fibres through fermentation. Fermentation5 is the process of carbohydrates being broken down by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen. Bacteria is one such microorganism, and it is uniquely equipped to break down or ‘ferment’ certain carbohyrates. This process feeds the ‘good’ gut bacteria in the large intestine and promotes its growth to ensure it survives and thrives.
This is a key connection fibre has to our health. It feeds good bacteria that, in turn, produces beneficial metabolites and nutrients for our body. These include vitamins and short-chain fatty acids such as acetate, propionate and butyrate. These short-chain fatty acids can feed the cells in the colon and can help restore the natural balance of good bacteria in the intestines to help your digestive system work better6.
What about fibre and constipation?
We already know that fibre can help keep you regular. So if you’re experiencing constipation, eating more fibre can help by increasing the number of stools that you pass. Case in point: a review7 with a meta-analysis reported that 77% of people with chronic constipation found some relief by increasing their fibre intake7.
Many wonder though, how much fibre is adequate?8 Generally, adults are recommended to eat 30g/day. For children ages 2-5 and 5-11, the recommendations are to eat 15g and 20g per day, respectively. Most people consume less than half these amounts. The best sources of fibre are found in food, but when that’s difficult to achieve, supplements that contain fibres such as wheat dextrin can help provide regularity support.
Kids and constipation
If you’re a parent, you know that making sure your kids are getting the nutrients they need for a healthy, well-rounded diet is a non-stop task. And if you have picky eaters or busy, active children, making sure their digestive systems are running smoothly can be extra challenging. These tips can help.
- Incorporate fibre-rich foods9 into their diet.
- Apples, pears and bananas are a great way to add in fruits that contain fibre.
- Veggies such as avocados, cauliflower and carrots are fibre-rich and delicious!
- Starches and legumes like potatoes and beans can really help regularity issues for toddlers.
- Keep them hydrated!
Making sure your child has enough fluids is important because it helps soften stool.
- Avoid distraction.
Make it a habit for your child to sit on the potty or toilet regularly.
- Stay active.
Encourage your child to be physically active. The mixture of movement and gravity helps food travel through the digestive system.
- Increase fibre intake by considering supplements.
A low fibre diet is another contributing factor to constipation in children. Be sure to include more fibre-rich9options in their diet. This includes more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You can also administer children fibre supplements.
Good bacteria is good for kids, too
Good bacteria are found in the digestive tract, and kids also benefit when this good bacteria can thrive. Biotics help restore the natural balance of good bacteria in the intestines to help reduce gas, bloating and occasional diarrhea. In other words, they can help keep kids feeling their best!
Though certain foods may contain biotics, it’s often difficult to gauge how many or what kind are present in them and to know if they are good quality because the manufacturers are not required to do so. That’s where supplements like Culturelle® Kids Daily Supplement + Fibre Packets can come in handy.
Biotics and fibre—together at last
Culturelle® Kids Daily Supplement + Fibre Packets contain 2.5 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, the #1 clinically studied strain.† Plus, 3.5 grams of a dietary fibre blend, from kiwi fruit powder, wheat dextrin and inulin from chicory root.
For even more convenience, Culturelle® Kids Daily Supplement + Fibre Packets comes in an easy, flavorless powder that can be mixed into your child’s favorite food, like applesauce or yogurt.
A relationship that’s here to stay
Listening to our gut is an essential piece of taking care of our health. It’s our job to help it thrive, and if we pay attention to the clues it gives us, we can learn how to adjust our diets to maintain a happy gut. And when we need help, making small changes, such as adding a targeted supplement, can make a big difference.
† Based on the number of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG clinical studies, as of February 2023.