9 Probiotic-Rich Foods For Kids

9 Probiotic-Rich Foods For Kids

There’s no shortage of information about the benefits of probiotics and probiotic-rich foods, but what about your kids? Do they need probiotics too?

What Are The Benefits of Probiotics For Kids?

Probiotics are often marketed to parents as a way to prevent colds, the flu, diarrhea and constipation.

Studies show probiotics may also treat health conditions like colic, reflux, allergies, asthma and eczema. In fact, a February 2018 meta-analysis in the journal PLOS One suggests taking probiotics during late pregnancy and while breastfeeding may reduce a baby’s risk for the skin condition.

The buzz about probiotics comes down to one thing: gut health. The gut microbiome is a vast collection of approximately 100 trillion microbes, or microorganisms, that live on and in the body, but most are found in the gastrointestinal tract or simply, the gut.

One class of microbes are bacteria. The gut contains both harmful bacteria that lead to disease and helpful bacteria that strengthen the immune system and help kids stay healthy.

A course of antibiotics or eating a diet high in processed foods, sugar and refined grains can throw off the balance between healthy and harmful bacteria in their gut and leave your kids susceptible to illness.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that although probiotics are likely safe, it’s not clear how effective they are or what the long-term effects may be for kids. What’s more, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements, so if you do give your kids probiotics, you really don’t know what you’re giving them.

It’s always a good idea to check with your pediatrician first, but getting nutrients from food sources, including probiotics, is always better than a supplement.

These 9 probiotic-rich foods (some are dairy-free) are healthy and delicious and will give your kids a dose of gut healthy, immune boosting bacteria.

1. Kefir

Kefir tastes a bit tangy and with a thicker consistency than milk but not quite as thick as yogurt, kefir can be served alone or mixed with fruit for a healthy breakfast smoothie.

Since most brands of kefir are sweetened and high in sugar, read labels carefully. Your best bet will likely be plain, unsweetened kefir which you can add your own fresh fruit to for more fiber and sweetness.

2. Green Peas


Green peas are an excellent source of fiber, protein and vitamins A, C, B6, and K, magnesium and folate.

Surprisingly, they’re also probiotic-rich. In fact, a December 2018 study in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found that a particular strain—leuconostoc mesenteroides subsp. mesenteroides—can boost gut health. The study was conducted in mice however, so it’s not clear if the same findings can be replicated in humans.

3. Sourdough bread


Sourdough bread is made with a fermentation process that uses wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria that’s naturally present, making it a good source of probiotics.

Your kids may not immediately take to the taste of sourdough bread so serve a small piece with a pat of grass-fed butter, which has a dose of probiotics too.

4. Yogurt

A March 2018 study in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy found that babies who ate yogurt on a daily basis reduced their risk for allergies and eczema by up to 70 percent. The authors note however, that it’s unclear what type of yogurt and how much is actually beneficial.

Experts I’ve interviewed say most store-bought yogurts don’t contain enough probiotics by the time you purchase them. The nurse practitioner in my children’s pediatrician’s office recommended they try Activia, so that’s what we buy.

5. Fermented Pickles

Most kids love pickles, but most pickles on store shelves won’t cut it.

To get the benefits of probiotics, you’ll want to look for pickles in the refrigerated section and those brands that are labeled “naturally fermented,” like Bubbies.

6. Kimchi

A popular Asian side dish, kimchi is a naturally fermented cabbage that contains probiotics and is rich in vitamins A, C, K, B6, folate and iron.

Since kimchi is a bit spicy, give your kids a small amount and see if they like it.

7. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut, another type of fermented cabbage, is a good source of probiotics as well as fiber, calcium and magnesium, vitamins B6, C and K, folate, iron and potassium.

Most store-brands of sauerkraut don’t contain probiotics however, so look for those that state they’re naturally fermented.

8. Miso

A traditional Japanese condiment that’s made from fermented rye, beans, rice or barley, miso is one of the probiotic-rich foods. A good way to introduce miso to kids is to offer miso soup since it has a mild flavor and is quite delicious.

9. Coconut milk yogurt

If your kids can’t consume dairy or your family is dairy-free, coconut milk yogurt is one of the best probiotic-rich foods.

Like many types of yogurt however, coconut milk yogurt can be high in sugar so read labels carefully. Or find plain, unsweetened versions and add fresh berries for added fiber and a hint of sweetness.

How Much Fiber Do Kids Need?  Fiber eases constipation but there are other reasons why kids need it in their diets.

How Much Fiber Do Kids Need?

Fiber eases constipation but there are other reasons why kids need it in their diets.

If your kids have ever been constipated, you probably tried to get more fiber in their diets. Although fiber-rich foods can combat constipation, they’re an important part of a healthy diet and something kids should be eating throughout the day.

Studies show however, many kids aren’t getting nearly enough. When it comes to whole grains which are one source of fiber, 39 percent of children and teens consume none at all, a January 2014 study in the journal Nutrition Research found.

Highly processed foods, fast food and frozen foods that make up a majority of what kids eat are partly to blame but without plenty of fruits and vegetables every day, they can’t meat their fiber needs.

Read on to learn why fiber is so important to your children’s health, how much they need and how to get it in their diets.

Why Do Kids Need Fiber?

Fiber Satisfies Hunger

If your kids constantly ask for snacks, it could be that they’re not getting enough fiber in their meals.

Fiber is filling, slowly digested and satiates hunger so if they’re not eating enough, they’ll be hungry in no time.

Fiber Prevents Constipation

Perhaps the most compelling reason for your kids to eat foods high in fiber is that fiber prevents constipation. Without enough fiber, your child’s poop can become hard and difficult to pass.

Fiber May Improve Academic Performance

Eating plenty of fiber may support your kids’ brain health. A January 2015 study in the Journal of Nutrition found for children between ages 7 and 9, consuming adequate levels of fiber was positively correlated to cognitive control, such as the ability to multitask.

Fiber Prevents Childhood Obesity

Eating a diet rich in fiber can help to ensure your children maintain healthy weights.

Fiber keeps kids feeling fuller longer so they’re less likely to reach for refined carbohydrates and sugary fare to stave off hunger.

Fiber May Prevent Cancer

Studies show getting enough fiber may ward off certain types of cancer, including colorectal cancer.

What’s more, a March 2016 study in the journal Pediatrics suggests increasing fiber intake during the teen and early adult years may lower the risk for developing breast cancer. Women who consumed about 28 grams of fiber a day during high school had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer than those who consumed 15 grams or less a day.

Fiber Is Heart-Healthy

Studies show eating fiber can lower the risk for high cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.

Heart disease may not be on your mind now, but the way your children eat today can affect their diets and eating habits for the rest of their lives.

Fiber Supports Stable Blood Sugar Levels

If your kids are frequently cranky or seem to melt down, it could be due to a lack of fiber in their diets.

Refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice, crackers and snack foods can spike blood sugar levels. Over time, eating these high glycemic foods could increase your kids’ risk for developing type-2 diabetes, a 2007 study in the journal PLoS Medicine found.

Fiber Boosts Gut Health

A diet rich in soluble fiber helps to produce healthy bacteria in the gut. A healthy gut strengthens your child’s immune system, can prevent certain GI issues like diarrhea and may prevent health problems due to leaky gut later on in life.

A November 2016 study in the journal Cell suggests diets low in fiber cause healthy bacteria to begin to eat away at the natural mucus in the gut lining which leaves the colon susceptible to infection.

Insoluble Fiber vs. Soluble Fiber: What’s The Difference?

There are two main types of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Kids need both but they each play different roles in your children’s health.

Insoluble Fiber

Often referred to as “roughage,” insoluble fiber is found in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts. As the name suggests, insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water, is undigested and bulks up waste which makes it easier to pass.

Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber, which is found in foods like beans, legumes, oats and fruits (avocado included), absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance that softens waste. Soluble fiber also sticks to cholesterol and sugar, which prevents or slows down the absorption in the bloodstream.

How Much Fiber Do Kids Need?

Kids need between 19 grams and 38 grams of fiber a day, depending on their age and gender. The American Health Association has recommendations here.

You should speak to your children’s pediatrician or a pediatric nutritionist however, to make sure they get the right amount of fiber.

How To Get More Fiber In Your Kids’ Diets

The American Academy of Pediatrics says instead of counting grams of fiber, aim to get 5 fruits and vegetables each day. If your children are picky eaters however, it can seem like a lofty goal. With some simple tweaks to your their diets however, you can make sure they gets enough fiber.

Here are some ideas:

1. Serve vegetables for breakfast.

2. Offer fruit, nuts or seeds for snacks.

3. Add avocado to smoothies, sandwiches, salads and stews.

4. Swap refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and snack foods with whole grain alternatives.

5. Eat more beans. Add them to eggs, in place of meat on taco night or as snacks. Swap out eggs and oil in brownie recipes with pureed beans.

6. Add chia seeds to smoothies, baked goods or make a chia seed pudding.

7. Serve salads more often.

 

 

 

 

6 Reasons Why Avocado Is Healthy For Kids  Wit 20 vitamins and minerals, filling fiber and healthy fats, avocado is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

6 Reasons Why Avocado Is Healthy For Kids

Wit 20 vitamins and minerals, filling fiber and healthy fats, avocado is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids.

Avocado is one of those superfoods, super-fruits (yep, that’s right!), kids should eat—and eat more of. Like other types of brightly colored, good-for-you fruits (think: raspberries, blueberries and blackberries), avocado is one of the healthiest to add to your kid’s diet.

When it comes to avocado, you probably think guacamole. And although that’s certainly one way to get your kids to eat it, avocado is trendy right now—popping up in smoothie recipes, on toast or as a healthy swap in sandwiches.

Although the green color alone can be enough for you kid to snub it, like kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts, stick with it and continue to offer it regularly. Here are 6 reasons why avocado is healthy for kids and how to get it in their diets.

1. They Pack a Nutritional Punch

When it comes to getting nutritional bang for your buck, avocados are a great choice. With 20 vitamins and minerals including vitamins B5, B6, C, E, K, folate and potassium, your kids will get a lot of nutrition without a lot of calories.

2. They’re Heart-Healthy

Avocados are an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, healthy fats that can help reduce bad cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease later on in life.

3. They Can Boost Brain and Eye Health

Polyunsaturated fats like those found in avocado are vital for brain growth and development during pregnancy, for babies and children.

Avocados also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which are carotenoids or plant pigments, found in the eyes that can improve memory and processing speed, one study found.

4. They’re Naturally Nutritious

Avocados are naturally sodium, sugar and cholesterol-free.

5. They Give Vegetables a Boost

Eating avocado along with nutrient-dense vegetables helps kids to better absorb the fat-soluble nutrients from them like vitamins A, D, K and E.

6. They’ll Satisfy Your Kid’s Hunger

Studies show kids don’t eat enough fiber, especially because they’re not eating enough fruits and vegetables. The amount of fiber kids need vary by age, so be sure to check out the chart with recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020.

Avocado is a great source of fiber: one ounce has nearly 2 grams. Since fiber is digested slowly, it helps kids feel fuller longer. Studies show fiber may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and obesity. Getting enough fiber every day also keeps your kid’s GI system moving and working properly which prevents constipation.

How To Get Avocado In Your Kid’s Diet

Mash or Dice

Avocado’s smooth texture and mild taste make it a great first food for babies. Mash it up or cut into cubes and let baby feed himself.

Swap

Instead of mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup on a sandwich, add a slice of avocado.

Toast

Add mashed avocado to your favorite toast, top with vegetables and breakfast is served.

Blend

Add some avocado to a breakfast smoothie to help your kids feel satiated until lunch.

Add

Avocado can be easily incorporated into salads and soups, added to eggs, vegetable, rice, or bean dishes.

Sweeten

Avocado makes a sweet chocolate pudding. Try this recipe.

5 Health Benefits of Figs

5 Health Benefits of Figs

Figs probably aren’t the type of fruit you feed your kids every day. In fact, when you think about figs, you probably think fig Newtons—the cookies you used to enjoy as a kid and maybe feed your kids now. Although those cookies are delicious, they aren’t the healthiest treat to eat.

Yet real figs—fresh or dried—are, plus they’re tasty, sweet and have a chewy and slightly crunchy texture at the same time.

While apples, pears and pumpkin get all the attention this time of year, consider serving up figs at your kids’ next meal. Here’s why.

Filling fiber

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9 out of 10 kids don’t eat enough vegetables and 6 in 10 don’t eat enough fruit—two of the best sources of fiber. Since fiber slows digestion, it keeps your kids feeling fuller longer and may prevent weight gain and obesity.

Adding figs to your kid’s diet can be a great way to add more fiber. A half-cup of raw figs contain nearly 3 grams of fiber while the same portion of dried figs have more than 9 grams.

Rich in vitamins and minerals

Both raw and dried figs are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals, yet dried figs have higher levels. For starters, figs contain calcium for strong teeth and bones and potassium which supports your child’s growth and the function of nerve cells in the body and the brain. Potassium also lowers blood pressure, which can help the 2 to 5 percent of kids who have hypertension but often go undiagnosed. Figs also contain other important key nutrients like magnesium and vitamin K.

Prevents colds and infections

With cold and flu season upon us, feeding your kids figs may prevent them from getting sick. In fact, a 2015 study conducted with grass carp suggests figs may have an immune boosting benefit.

Treats common ailments

The fruit itself as well as extracts and components of figs have been used to treat more than 40 types of ailments of the digestive, endocrine, reproductive and respiratory systems in the body as well as gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract infections. Although serious health conditions aren’t a problem for most healthy kids, the research speaks to the healing properties of figs and may give your kids an edge.

Prevents constipation

If your kids aren’t eating enough fiber, there’s a good change they are frequently constipated. Because of their high-fiber content, figs are among the many foods that prevent constipation. In fact, participants who consumed a paste made from figs saw a significant improvement in constipation, according to a 2016 study.

How To Eat Figs

There are so many ways to incorporate figs into just about any meal. Here are a few to try:

  • Swap your regular fruit for figs in lunch boxes or as an after-school snack.
  • Chop figs and add them to oatmeal, salads or plain, Greek yogurt.
  • Roast figs for a side dish or an after-dinner dessert.
  • Slice bread and make a crostini with a bit of goat cheese, figs and a drizzle of honey.
6 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

6 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

When you think about pumpkin, you probably think about carving a pumpkin with your kids, baking pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, or savoring a warm, sweet pumpkin spice latte.

This time of year, you’ll find pumpkin-flavored everything but the real kind of pumpkin—yes, it’s a vegetable—is one of the healthiest foods you can feed your kids. Even better—there are ways to serve it so even the pickiest of eaters will devour it.

1. Packed with nutrition

Pumpkin contains 22 vitamins and minerals and is rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant and plant pigment that gives pumpkin its bright orange color and converts to vitamin A in the body.

2. Improved immunity

Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and zinc, which may boost the immune system, particularly important when your kid is swapping germs all day in daycare and school.

3. Filled with fiber

It seems brands may vary but one cup of pumpkin has only 50 calories and 3 grams of fiber. Since fiber is slowly digested, it helps your kid to feel fuller longer. The fiber in pumpkin also promotes digestion, can prevent constipation and may improve gut health. Having a healthy gut improves the immune system and helps the body to stave off a slew of health conditions and diseases.

4. Loaded with lutein

Lutein, a carotenoid or antioxidant, is well known to be beneficial for eye health. Yet in recent years, new research suggests lutein may also improve brain health and cognition which could give your kid a boost in learning, memory and concentration.

In fact, two recent studies from Abbott and the University of Illinois found children who had higher levels of lutein performed better when they were faced with tough cognitive tasks and had higher scores on standardized tests.

5. May prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease

According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 193,000 kids and teens under age 20 are diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and experts agree, those numbers are on the rise.

Studies suggest along with a healthy diet and exercise, eating pumpkin may also ward of type-2 diabetes. A 2009 study in mice suggests pumpkin may be effective in improving glucose tolerance and insulin resistance. Another study in mice published in 2012 in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggests pumpkin seed oil may reduce high blood pressure and be protective of the cardiovascular system.

6. A better night’s rest

Tryptophan is usually associated with turkey and responsible for that post-Thanksgiving dinner slump, yet tryptophan is also found in pumpkin seeds. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that converts to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for sleep and a happy mood. Although there’s no guarantee, feeding your kids pumpkin for dessert may help them sleep through the night.


How to Serve Pumpkin to Kids

Add pureed pumpkin to smoothies, breads, muffins, pancakes and waffles. Pumpkin is a moist, tasty alternative to oil and eggs in baking recipes.

Set aside individual portions of pumpkin seeds for school lunches or after-school snacks.

Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of salads, savory soups and oatmeal.

Spread pumpkin seed butter on sandwiches for a nut-free alternative.

Mix dried fruit, pumpkin seeds and nuts for a healthy trail mix.