How much fibre does your child really need?

When it comes to healthy eating, it’s important not to forget to include enough fibre in your child’s diet on a daily basis.

 There are many different sources of fibre you can include in your children’s diets.

When it comes to different food groups, many parents are aware of the importance of including protein in their children’s daily diets but often not as aware of the importance of fibre. Fibre is a crucial component of your child’s diet – no matter their age. It is especially well known for its beneficial action on the function of the colon.

Good to know: The recommended intake for children equals the child’s age plus 5g per day.

Fibre: Two groups

Fibre can be divided into two groups, as follows:

Water-soluble fibre: This type of fibre is digested by the digestive enzymes in the small intestine and it performs different functions from non-soluble fibre in the body. Water-soluble fibre is the better fibre to treat constipation in children.

Non-soluble fibre: This type of fibre is not digested in the small intestine and remains largely unchanged. It increases the volume of the intestine, and accelerates the rate at which the contents of the intestines, move, especially in the colon. Overuse of non-soluble fibre in children or having too little water with the fibre, may increase the symptoms of constipation.

Let’s look a the different sources of fibre

There are different sources of fibre. Take a look…

Seeds of legumes

Legumes contain large quantities of both types of fibre. Sugar beans, butter beans, white beans, kidney beans and other boiled dried beans have a high soluble and non-soluble fibre content.

Oats

Rolled oats and oat bran are especially rich in soluble fibre.

Fruit and vegetables

Pectin is the kind of soluble fibre that is mainly found in ripe fruit and vegetables. Ripe fruit contains more pectin than unripe fruit – apples are the richest source of pectin.

Good to know: Whole wheat, high-fibre bran, and the skin of fruit and vegetables are examples of insoluble fibre.

Working out quantities

While it can be tricky working out exactly how much fibre your child needs, this equation by Dr Kath Megaw, Clinical Paediatric Dietician is helpful. A three-year-old child, for example, would require 8g of fibre per day. This can be made up of, for example, 20g oats, ½ an apple, a ¼ cup of mixed veggies, and one small banana. –

The fibre content in fruit

TypeServing Fibre content (g)
 Fig 1 large 9
 Orange 1 medium 6
 Grapefruit 1/2 medium 6
 Apple 1 medium 5
 Fruit salad (melon, banana, orange) 3/4 cup 4.8
 Raisins 1/4 cup 3.1
 Pear 1 medium 3
 Strawberries 1 cup 3
 Banana 1 medium 3
 Peach 1 medium 3
 Fruit juice 200ml 0.3

The fibre content in vegetables

 Type Serving Fibre content (g)
 Broccoli 1/2 cup 5
 Peas 1/2 cup 4.5
 Butternut 1/2 cup 4
 Potato 1 medium 3.6
 Sweet potato 1/2 cup 4.4
 Green beans 1/2 cup 3
 Carrots 1/2 cup 2.4
 Spinach 1/2 cup 2.4
 Cabbage 1 cup 2