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It’s no big secret that children are picky eaters. If chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese were on the menu every day, how easy parents’ lives would be. But a diet high in processed and refined foods, and low in fruits and veggies has far reaching consequences, especially on little bodies.

First, the more children don’t eat fruits and veggies, the more likely they’ll not want to eat them later in life.

Second, a diet low in fruits and veggies means a diet low in many nutrients and fiber.

Third, when children don’t eat enough fruits and veggies, they get constipated.

A recent study found that primary school children who didn’t like fruits and vegetables were 13 times more likely to develop functional constipation than children who did like fruits and veggies. As a parent, you might not even realize your child is constipated. Maybe your children are in school or day care, so you can’t keep track of every potty break. Ask about their bowel movements. At least one healthy bowel movement daily (quantity counts!) is an indication that they are not constipated.

Studies are finding that constipation in children is increasing. This is largely due to dietary habits, including water intake. Children who drank less than 400mL (13.5 ounces) of fluid daily were also more likely to be constipated.

Be persistent in trying new veggies from time to time. Children’s tastes change, and often, a veggie that was detested last month seems to go down without a hitch the next. For the pickiest of eaters, there are many recipes out there that help you “hide” the veggies by adding them to other foods in stealthy ways. You may even find yourself trying new veggies by using these tricks.

In addition, a fiber supplement can help increase stool bulk and promote bowel regularity. Look for a great tasting fruit and veggie fiber that can be mixed into a smoothie or added to juice.

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We do our best to safeguard our kids from sniffles and sneezes, but what about a constipated colon? Constipation among children is more common than you might think, and most of the time the causes are the same as those for adults—things like eating too little fiber, not drinking enough fluids, taking certain medications, a change in daily routine, or simply not setting aside enough time to go to the bathroom.

Teaching kids early about the importance of good bowel health is the first step toward helping prevent occasional constipation, and it begins with making sure they eat plenty of fiber. Fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps to strengthen the colon muscles to ensure healthy bowel movements. It also helps absorb and eliminate harmful toxins in the gut. For picky eaters, a natural fiber supplement may be the best option.

In addition to eating more fiber, a diet rich in Omega oils can help keep the colon lubricated to ease elimination and avoid straining. A daily probiotic is also recommended to maintain a healthy bacteria balance in the intestines and promote regular, healthy bowel movements. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is also essential for keeping stools hydrated and thus easier to pass. Finally, make sure kids know the importance of good bowel health, and encourage them to take their time on the toilet and avoid straining or pushing.

When constipation does strike, a natural herbal laxative made with traditionally used ingredients such as flax fiber, fig, prune and peach leaf can help get things moving again and ease abdominal discomfort. Probiotics may also be included for additional bowel support.

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‡This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. The material on this page is for consumer informational and educational purposes only, under section 5 of DSHEA.

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