Category: Nutrition Facts

How A Mother’s Role is Important in a Child’s Gut Health

How A Mother’s Role is Important in a Child’s Gut Health

Your child’s gut can be a host to trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi, collectively known as the microbiome. Scientists at Abbott have been studying the impact of the microbiome on the developing immune system of children for the past two decades. Here are our experts’ answers to three common gut health questions from parents and friends.

 

Why are the beginning years critical to building immunity?

Seventy percent of our immune system is in the gut so it’s important that a child gets important ingredients like prebiotics. When gut bacteria are properly nourished, they can grow, diversify and multiply – all of which help to strengthen a child’s immune system.

 

What can parents do to foster their child’s gut health?

Parents can help by getting their kids to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables by modeling the behavior themselves. Throw in a couple of healthy snacks like carrots & dip or apples & nut butters to help kids feel full and get in daily requirements of fat and protein. Try cheeses for calcium if they can not tolerate regular milk.

 

How can parents take care of their own gut health?

As it is important for children, it is also important to feed them the right food and ensure the beneficial bacteria thrive for adults. These 3 things you can be for you and can be customized to be more fit for your child too while you are at it:

 

  1. Diet
    Eat lots of fruits and vegetables because they are rich in fiber and prebiotics that feed intestinal bacteria. Yogurts are also another natural source of probiotics. The nutrients in these foods nourish and help protect your overall immunity.
  2. Antibiotics
    These are not needed unless medically necessary – Taking them just for the sake of it can upset the balance of your gut flora. If you need antibiotics, ask your physician about them and other probiotic supplements to take after you recover to help restore any impact to your gut health.
  3. Exercise and Stress
    Stress is universal in affecting gastrointestinal systems negatively. Every day, make sure you find ways to reduce stress, for yourself and your children, and fit in exercise to help relax and stay fit. Doing so can protect your immune system.

Reference(s):

  1. https://abbottfamily.com.sg/articles/baby/healthy-gut-starts-with-you

4 Ways To Boost Your Child’s Immune System

4 Ways To Boost Your Child’s Immune System

How to Nurture Your Child’s Immune System

One of the best things you can do to help your child’s immune system to develop and keep them healthy is to optimize the gut health. Here are 4 easy and simple things that can help:

 

Choose a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables

As your child grows, offer whole foods, including plenty of fruits, vegetables and grains. Bananas and asparagus are rich in prebiotics, which help probiotics—found in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir—do their jobs.

Becoming a pet lover

Playing with a family or neighborhood pet even has its benefits to overall immune health—helping to diversify the species of bacteria in your child’s gut. Studies show that safe interaction with pets can change the composition and diversity of the microbes in a child’s gut and may even reduce their risk for asthma, eczema, and other infections.

Let them play around in the dirt!

Encourage playing outside and explore the outdoors! Not only does this help them get a dose of healthy bacteria, it gets them active. Don’t overtly be a germaphobe, but you should always make sure your child washes his hands after using the bathroom. Also encourage a good washing before meals and when they are ill.

Move More

Physical activity is a given to be healthy. Make sure they get at least 60 minutes of activity each day at the park, the playground or an indoor play space on brisk days.

Build your child’s immune system

From an early age, the gut microbiome development begins. With a few simple steps, parents can play an important role in helping to build a child’s immune system – by first building a healthy gut – and laying the foundation for a lifetime of good health.

 

Reference(s):

  1. https://abbottfamily.com.sg/articles/baby/6-ways-to-boost-child-immune-system

Common Illnesses Every Parent Should Know About

Common Illnesses Every Parent Should Know About

Despite your child being updated on their vaccine status, they can still be susceptible to a mix of common illnesses. This is because their immune systems are still developing and are constantly exposed to other children at schools, day care, or their friends house. By ensuring that your children are properly nourished, given adequate at-home care and preventative measures, you can provide a healthy and happy developmental years for them, These listed below are the most common illnesses children face and some ways to combat if they contract any.

 

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a contagious viral infection and is often spread in daycare centers and schools. Look out for signs of fever, blisters on the buttocks, the bottom of the feet, palms, and inside of the mouth.

 

To care: Mouth blisters – encourage the consumption of cold foods like ice cream and cold drinks and avoid sour, spicy, and salty items.

Make sure to quarantine your children as hand-foot-and-mouth is contagious.

 

Prevention: As hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a viral infection, proper hygiene is most effective. Encourage good handwashing practices and avoid contact with those whom you suspect to be infected.

 

Diarrhea and vomiting

Digestive issues are unpleasant for everyone. Diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea are most commonly caused by food & drinks that have been contaminated with the rotavirus infection, E. coli, parasites, or salmonella. However, food allergies and intolerance can also be the culprit too.

 

To care: Ensure that your children are well hydrated as diarrhea and vomiting cause dehydration, which can lead to other health concerns.

Food: Plain or bland foods like porridge or toast go easy on the digestive system. Also provide further aid in recovery by adding in over-the-counter probiotics.

 

Prevention: Ensure that your children practice good hand hygiene before meals and keep potentially contaminated objects out of their mouths. Make sure your children have good clean food and drinks. If you really need it or want extra assurance, visit your doctor for a food intolerance test.

 

Flu and Cough

Flu and cough are common illnesses that children can contract and they may experience them several times a year. Check for fevers, chills, lethargy, body aches, sore throat, and coughs. The culprit of the flu is the influenza A, B, and C and it is very contagious.

 

To care: The flu usually needs to run its course, but you can make your child comfortable by allowing them plenty of rest, giving them fluids, and making them avoid having cold food and drinks. Add in warm baths or hot compresses to help with body aches.

 

Prevention: An adequate hygiene regimen and a balanced diet can help keep the flu at bay. Don’t forget to get to stay up to date with your children’s annual flu shots.

 

Fever

Fevers can be caused by various illnesses like chickenpox, flu, tonsillitis, vaccinations, and others. It is the body’s way of fighting off infections. The normal temperature of children is around 36.4oC (97.52oF) and your child may have a fever if it is higher than 38oC (100.4oF).

 

To care: Make sure that your child drinks plenty of water because high temperatures can lead to dehydration. Check their temperature every few hours. Traditionally, you may want to put a cold towel over their heads or a heavy blanket on their body. It is suggested that you don’t because this will affect the body’s natural response in fighting off illness.

 

Prevention: The prevention depends on the cause so it’s important to consult a Pediatrician for advice. Illnesses in children often leads to loss of appetite which can affect their ability to recover. Boost their recovery by providing them with a complete and balanced oral nutrition supplement. If your child’s symptoms persist, please consult a doctor or pediatrician immediately

 

Reference(s):

    1. https://abbottfamily.com.sg/articles/toddler/common-illness

Immune System Development: Probiotic Bacteria and Prebiotic Fiber to the Fore

Immune System Development: Probiotic Bacteria and Prebiotic Fiber to the Fore

Your child immune defense is like a door that protects the body from bacteria, viruses and other antigens that have the potential to cause illness. With the help of certain nutrients, your child can maintain a healthy intestinal tract and promote development of the cells and antibodies that fight antigens. A well-balanced diet is essential for a healthy immune defense system. 1

The first step to a healthy immune system is:          

Knowing Your Nutrients!

The first step to a healthy immune system

  • Nucleotides– Essential for normal cell function and replication
  • Prebiotics– Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) & Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) is food to support the growth of probiotics
  • Zinc and Vitamin A, C and E– Help to protect cells from free radicals that may have escaped the natural processes of the child body system

 

Immune-boosting tips

  • Give it a shot– Check with your child’s doctor to make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date
  • Nourish his diet– While missing certain vitamins and minerals may weaken immune response, diets rich in nucleotides (lean meat and mushrooms), prebiotics (nuts, beans, and whole grains), and probiotics (yogurt) can help strengthen it
  • Breathe easy– Avoid exposure to immune weakening cigarette smoke and toxic substances (household cleaners, fertilizers, and pesticides)
  • Get physical– Exercise isn’t just good for physical and mental development, it will get his immunity in shape, too

Reference(s):

  1. https://abbottfamily.com.sg/articles/science/immune-system

Nutrients needed for child’s bone development

Nutrients needed for childs bone development

It’s a fact that if you have strong bones, your body is strong too. Bones provide structure for the body and protection for the organs. It gives the body a rigid frame to make it possible to walk upright, run and general mobility. A child’s bones grow and strengthen during their childhood, so you want them to start healthy and strong. Peak bone mass is achieved between the ages of 10 and 18 and children with lower bone mass may be at greater risk for fractures. An ongoing intake of calcium must occur so that it is absorbed into the bone for its strength upkeep. Because bone mass decreases when in adulthood at 30, it is important for your child to build up their bones early.1

 These are a few of the most important nutrients for developing a healthy bone growth:       

Calcium – It is the one nutrient that everyone knows as being responsible for building bones and teeth health.

 Vitamin D – it helps your body absorb calcium and helps to maintain strong bones.

Arginine – it is amino acids and triggers the release of Growth Hormones which help to stimulate the growth plate for longer bone growth

Natural Vitamin K2 – Vitamin K2 activates osteocalcin which binds calcium and transport to bones to ensure natural strength and growth of bones

 Phosphorus – when combined with calcium, it forms calcium phosphate, which is the substance that will give a child’s skeleton rigidity.

 Magnesium – approximately 50% of total body magnesium is found in the bones and contributes to the physical structure of the bones.

 

Tips for keeping healthy bones in your child

 Don’t forget the calcium – make sure milk and other calcium-rich foods are a part of your child’s diet daily. Exact calcium intake may vary from child to child so it is best to consult a Medical Professional for children for the correct amount.

Have a balanced diet – include vitamins and minerals necessary for bone health and a well-balanced diet.

Out in the Sun – Vitamin D works with calcium to help build bones and keep them strong.

Be active – in addition to eating nutrient rich food, physical activity is fundamental for bone development. Provide the opportunity for age-appropriate, safe physical activity on a regular basis. You may even join them for encouragement when you can.

 

Reference: https://abbottfamily.com.sg/articles/science/bone-development


How to choose healthy drinks for kids

How to choose healthy drinks for kids

Most of the kids  love to drink sweetened beverages. Most of the sugary drinks have more calories than being nutritionally beneficial. Look at the ingredient list for each drink and study the nutrition information panel, to distinguish the smarter and better beverage choices. Here are some general guidelines to know, so that your children stay healthily hydrated.1

Water

Make sure your child drink six to eight glasses of water a day. It is ‘on average’ because daily liquid requirements can also come from soups, juices, and even fruits. Vegetables also have high water-content, so be sure to give your children an adequate amount per meal per day.

Milk

To have a well balanced diet, up to 2 glasses (250ml) of milk must be consumed. Your child can get part of the daily required proteins, calcium, and many other important things for growing. You can add flavor to the milk to make it more appealing.

Juices

As much as you can, make the choice with juices that have no added sugar. If you really can’t find any, the next best step is “low sugar” options.  Limit packaged fruit juice to one glass a day or even less to only a few times a week. Encourage your child to eat more fruits instead as these contain more fibers.

Sweetened drinks

These types of drinks should be occasional treats served in small portions. These can be used as the occasional treat. Served in small portions, these beverages should not replace other more nutrient-dense fluids in your child’s diet.

 

Reference: https://abbottfamily.com.sg/articles/pre-school/healthy-drinks


5 Ways to Engage Your Picky-eater Child

5 Ways to Engage Your Picky-eater Child

It’s common for parents to worry when their child is a picky eater. Some parents even only feed their children that one single thing they like to eat. These methods don’t fix the picky eating problem. Here are some ideas about how to engage even the pickiest of eaters.

 

  1. Involve your children when planning their meals
    It is a good idea to have your children help plan meals. Listen to their opinion and provide your counter suggestions on what makes a balanced, healthy diet. This will also give them a sense of responsibility and accountability. But all in all, if the meals include what they like, they may be more motivated to finish it.
  2. Actively involve children when shopping for food
    This is a way for your kids to be more involved. You can even teach them how to pay, how to bag groceries, as well as how to count change.
  3. Link good food to good health
    It’s important for your children to have a good relationship with food and never to force them to finish what they don’t want. Expose your children to food of different cultures as this can widen their horizons and excite their senses. It might cause them to develop negative associations with food. Highlight vitamins and minerals found in their favorite foods and why they need them. For example, let them know that lemons are high in Vitamin C for boosting the immune system so they are always healthy to play all they want outside.
  4. Cook and have fun
    Cooking is not only fun but also a good bonding activity as well between a parent and a child. Start off with simple activities such as reading recipes, whisking eggs, stirring sauces, and measuring out ingredients. Delegate more tasks to them as they progress and reward for their progress.

Reference: https://abbottfamily.com.sg/articles/pickyeater/5-ways-to-engage-picky-eaters


How to teach Healthy eating Habits to your children

How to teach Healthy eating Habits to your children

Kids who learn about good nutrition during childhood are much more likely to have healthy eating habits.1

Helpful Tips Parents can Adopt

Ask your kids for help

When preparing breakfast or any other meal of the day, ask your kids to help. Be it washing vegetables or serving, letting them help gives them the ability to develop team working skills.

Limiting their consumption of unhealthy snacks

Limit the option of having sweets and fried snacks available in the household. Instead, encourage eating of healthy snacks like fruits, veggies, whole wheat items, and yogurt.

Make fruits and veggies a large part of daily meals

Encourage your kids to enjoy fruits and veggies by exposing them to a wide variety of seasonal fruits. The key is to start them off early. You may use the Food Pyramid as a learning point or consult a Nutritionist for a more customized meal plan.

Be optimistic

Instead of feeling discouraged by your child’s dislike of certain foods, be optimistic. You can even incorporate their favorite cartoon characters’ attitudes or strengths as a motivation for them to eat healthier. Tell your kids that eating certain fruits and vegetables will help them be like their favorite characters.

Lead by example

If you want your child to develop good habits, you as a parent must lead by example. Parents are powerful role models in early childhood. Model healthy eating with yourself first before you attempt with the children. Always explain why some foods are really good for them and give praise when they do accept healthier habits. Also minimize distractions when possible so you yourself can focus on your child.

Offer a variety

Do not force your child to eat what they really do not like. Switching it with alternatives is the key to getting them to try new foods. You might be surprised by what your child will love to eat.

Set an example

Besides yourself as a parent as an example, have opportunities for siblings or other age similar relatives lead.

 

Use utensils

At the dinner table, also teach them good table manners. Manners such as using utensils instead of their hands and not to make inappropriate noises when eating.

Reference: https://pediasure.com/healthy-eating-kids/feeding-children


Complete Balanced Diet and Nutrition for Kids

Complete Balanced Diet and Nutrition for Kids

A complete and balanced diet plays a crucial role in a child’s overall growth and development. Carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and fiber in required amounts per meal comprise a healthy and balanced diet. These 5 food groups provide nourishment for growing children and each are responsible for providing nutrient-specific benefits.

Carbohydrates provide a source of energy. In a child’s active lifestyle, carbohydrates are a vital source of energy to keep them active 1-3 .

Proteins can be found in meats, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, and beans. Due to children’s growth requirements, they need adequate amounts of protein for optimal growth and to repair body tissues. 1,3

Fats make a great source of energy too and are needed by the body to absorb fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats also insulate all nervous system tissues in the body and are the building blocks of hormones. 1,4

Vitamins are important to keep children healthy. 1 An example would be Vitamin C, an important antioxidant that helps with bone formation and the absorption of iron. It can be found in fruits like strawberries and oranges. Vitamin E, found in nuts, seeds and leafy vegetables, is meanwhile a key antioxidant for a healthy nervous system and an important nutrient to support developing cells. 7

Minerals are needed to develop healthy teeth, bones, and muscles when children are in their formative years.  A significant development of teeth, bones and muscles happens during a child’s first 10 years.1 An example of a mineral is calcium which is an abundant mineral in the body and essential for building strong bones, teeth and muscle. Another important mineral is potassium which plays a role in multiple key functions in the body. It is found in vegetables and fruits.

Fiber is important in helping children develop and maintain good functioning intestines as well as supports their body’s immune system and also helps children in having a regular bowel movement.5, 6 Fiber also helps in reducing the risk of constipation and other digestive disorders. Fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, also vegetables such as broccoli, collard greens, and swiss chard make great sources of fiber.

References:

  1. National Institute of Nutrition ICMR. Dietary Guidelines for Indians – A Manual.; 2011. http://ninindia.org/DietaryGuidelinesforNINwebsite.pdf endorsed by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations http://www.fao.org/nutrition/education/food-based-dietary-guidelines/regions/countries/india/en/
  2. World Health Organisation. Healthy Diet Fact Sheet No. 394. September 2016. http://www.who.int/elena/healthy_diet_fact_sheet_394.pdf. Accessed October 7, 2016.
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/. Accessed October 7, 2016
  4. FAO of the United Nations. Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition.; 2010. http://www.fao.org/docrep/019/i1953f/i1953f.pdf
  5. Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis RH, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews. 2009;67(4):188-205. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x.
  6. Stewart, Nathan, ” The health benefits of dietary fiber consumption of adults in the United States” (2014). Graduate Research Papers. Paper37.http://scholarworks.uni.edu/grp/37
  7. https://pediasure.com/child-development-nutrition/powerful-nutrition-kids

Food Pyramid For Kids

Food Pyramid For Kids

Did you know that 60% of adult height is determined during the first five years of an individual? This is why it is important to support the adequate nutrients needed by a child during this said period.

The Food Pyramid is the perfect visual tool used to design a child’s healthy diet. It provides a framework for the types and amounts of food that can be eaten in combination to provide your child adequate nutrition.1

The Food Pyramid is divided into four levels of foods according to recommended consumption3

  1. Cereals, legumes, beans, dairy products at the base should be eaten in sufficient quantity
  2. Vegetables and fruits on the second level can be eaten generously
  3. Animal source foods and oils on the third level are to be eaten moderately
  4. Highly processed foods, found at the top of the pyramid, are high in sugar and fat should be eaten sparingly

To complement the Food Pyramid, it is recommended that regular physical activity be added to a child’s fitness regimen.1 The Pyramid provides information on the food types and amounts necessary to meet daily dietary requirements. Each food group is represented by a band or level. Narrow bands at the apex indicate lower quantities, while wider bands at the base mean that more from that food group need to be consumed.

Including plenty of water each day is important too because water accounts for 70% of our body weight and also helps in the upkeep of our health.1

It is very important that an individual ensures getting appropriate foods and incorporates the principle of good nutrition such as variety, a balanced intake of nutrients and moderation. The best way to meet the daily requirements is to eat a varied diet that combines cereals, fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, legumes and dairy products.1 to 3

Eating a variety of foods daily as guided by the Food Pyramid should provide all the nutrients needed by the body.

References:

  1. National Institute of Nutrition ICMR. Dietary Guidelines for Indians – A Manual.; 2011. http://ninindia.org/DietaryGuidelinesforNINwebsite.pdf endorsed by Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations http://www.fao.org/nutrition/education/food-based-dietary-guidelines/regions/countries/india/en/
  2. World Health Organisation. Healthy Diet Fact Sheet No. 394. September 2016. https://www.who.int/elena/healthy_diet_fact_sheet_394.pdf. Accessed October 7, 2016.
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/. Accessed October 7, 2016

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