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- Is your child finding it difficult to go to the toilet?
- When they go to the toilet do they do rabbit like poos?
- Do they go to the toilet LESS than 3 times a week?
Then perhaps they have constipation, a condition I see in clinical practice often.
What Is Constipation?
The World Gastroenterology Organisation defines constipation as a symptom not a disease with the following criteria being met :
- Fewer than 3 bowel movements per week
- Hard stools in more than 25% of bowel movements
- A sense of incomplete evacuation in more than 25% of bowel movements (a feeling like you haven’t emptied your bowel completely)
- Excessive straining in more than 25% of bowel movements
- Digital manipulation to facilitate evacuation
Why is My Child Not Going to the Toilet?
One of the most basic reasons children don’t go to the toilet effectively (as well as adults) is that they DON’T eat enough fibre OR they don’t drink enough water. Interestingly research has found a correlation between a mother with constipation and their children also suffering constipation. They queried whether this is caused by their common diet.
The reason you often hear about fibre is because fibre feeds our good bacteria and it also acts like a broom through our intestines.
Top 5 Foods To Relieve Constipation
Here are 5 foods I would suggest adding in to your child’s diet (and yours – if you are also experiencing the same symptoms). While this list isn’t exhaustive, it’s a great start.
Importantly these foods are inexpensive and easy to include in to your Childs diet.
- Kiwifruit – not only is it a good source of fibre, it also contains a protein digesting enzyme which stimulates our gastrointestinal tract (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23394990)
- Apple (with it’s skin on) – contains both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre absorbs water and helps to soften our stool while insoluble fibre adds bulk and helps to keep you going to the toilet daily.
- Oats – contain soluble fibre. One cup is equivalent to 8 grams of fibre and is just under half the daily amount needed by children. A great breakfast for kids is porridge with grated apple for sweetness, coconut flakes and walnuts and mixed berries.
- Pineapple – is a natural source of bromelain, a digestive enzyme. Remember, both enzymes and bacteria break down our food.
- Water! While not technically a food, hydration is absolutely paramount for the smooth passing of a stool, I like to explain that with-out water our intestines are ‘dry’ and the stools hard to pass.
Top Foods To Avoid If Your Child Is Constipated
A child does not need their ‘milk’ after one years of age and should be hydrating with water.
Before eliminating food groups it is always best to consult with one of our experienced Practitioner’s, where we can undertake some testing with your child. Our most commonly performed tests for constipation in children are:
Gut test – a non invasive test which looks at the stool and gives a breakdown on different good and bad bacteria, yeasts and parasites which may be influencing gut function.
Food intolerance – a finger prick test which reviews over 96 common foods which may be causing inflammation in the gut and affecting function.
Look out for our next article on supplements we suggest for supporting digestion and eliminating constipation.
If you are feeling bloating then perhaps you suffer from SIBO – find out more here..