Parent Alert: Ensuring a Healthy Digestive System for Kids

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Like most parents, from the first moment your children come into this world and for the rest of your life,you will try to do your best caring for their health. After all, their well-being is in your hands.That’s why learning all about the way their body functions and how to make it work properly is your first priority.

Knowing how to ensure a healthy digestive system for kids is one of the most important things we can do for them. Improper digestion causes many different health problems that can cause unpleasan tissues in the adulthood. That’s why it’s imperative to start caring for your kid’s digestive system as soon as they are born.

How Does Our Digestive System Work?

digestive systemKnowing how the digestive system functions is important for understanding how to keep it healthy. Here is a quick overview.

Digestion is essentially a process of breaking down food into different components. This process helps the body separate useful substances from unfavorable elements for further absorption and rejection.

Some parts of our digestive system deal with mashing up the food for easier separation process. Others do the separating itself. More organs are responsible for absorption, rejection, and ejecting the unnecessary food components. Each organ has its own special task and if even one of them malfunctions, the whole digestion process will be disturbed.

1. The Mouth: Everything starts with putting the food into the mouth. The teeth are doing the important job of physically breaking the food down into pieces in order for it to smoothly pass further down.

Many kids tend to chew fast or avoid chewing altogether since they can’t wait to get back to playing. Improper chewing can cause serious digestive tract problems. Teach your child to chew slowly.

2. The Salivary Glands: The salivary glands are located in the child’s mouth and are responsible for creating saliva. There are four sets of salivary glands in the human body. Saliva moistens the food and makes the chewing process easier. It also contains enzymes that start breaking down the food into different components to simplify further work of the digestive system.

3. The Esophagus: The esophagus is a pipeline that connects your throat to the stomach. The length of the esophagus is about eight inches. This part of the digestive system is made of strong muscles that mash the food by contracting.

The muscles on top of the esophagus stay contracted when the person is not swallowing. Once the process starts, they relax to let the food inside. When the food is going down the esophagus, the top muscles contract again in order not to allow the stomach acid to go upwards.

4. The Stomach: The stomach serves a primary function in the digestive process. Once the food is received from the esophagus, it churns the food and partially digests it in both chemical and physical way. The physical digestion is done by muscle contraction and the chemical – by the enzymes that the glands on the stomach walls secret.

Another important function of the stomach is protection from different types of the diseases. The hydrochloric acid or HCL is released by the glands ruins the harmful bacteria that enter the stomach.

5. The Small Intestine: The small intestine is a tube that connects the stomach to the large intestine. Most of the food that comes from the stomach gets further digested and absorbed into the bloodstream inside the small intestine. This part of the digestive system is about 20 feet long.

6. The Liver: Liver is an organ that filters the blood coming from the digestive tract before allowing it to flow to the rest of the body. The liver metabolizes drugs and secretes chemicals used by other parts of the human organism. It’s our largest internal organ and an extremely important one.

7. The Gallbladder: The gallbladder is responsible for storing bile produced by the live. The bile is squeezed into the small intestine to help digest fats. This organ is not vital to survival. People who had their gallbladder removed continue living a healthy life with some diet restrictions.

8. The Pancreas: Pancreas is a vital part of our digestive system. It’s a gland that secretes important enzymes for digestion. It also produces and releases hormones into the blood stream. These hormones called insulin and glucagon help control glucose levels in our blood.

9. The Appendix: Appendix is a somewhat controversial organ since its exact function is unknown. There is a theory that it contains good bacteria that helps restore the digestive system after diarrhea. Another theory is that this organ used to be important in the past but we stopped needing it after a certain stage of evolution. The appendix can be removed without any consequences.

10. Large Intestines: The large intestine also called colon absorbs the water from unnecessary food components and helps them take form of stool for further ejection through the anus. Rectum is the lowest part of the large intestine where the stool is stored until the body is ready for defecation.

How Do You Ensure a Healthy Digestive System for Kids?

Now that we these important digestive system facts, it’s obvious that most of the organs are vital for the process. Keeping all of them in good shape depends on the habits and proper diet. Ensuring a healthy digestive system for the kid is his parent’s job. Here are some things for you to consider and implement.

1. Talk and Explain

talk and explainOnce your child gets old enough to understand what you are saying, start talking. It’s imperative to let the child know the importance of proper digestive system function and how much it depends on his actions. Tell the child about the way his body is struggling to digest the food and the side effects improper digestion can cause.

You can create digestive system for kids worksheets to help them understand what’s going on inside their bodies. Even if the child doesn’t seem to be listening, continue talking. Your words will stay in the back of his mind and the knowledge will eventually kick in.

Another fun way to teach your kid about the digestion process is the digestive system games. You can find plenty of them online. Knowing how the system works will help the child understand the important of caring for it.

2. Fiber is Everything

Eating foods that are high in fiber will help your child forget about digestive problems. Kids from one to three need about 19 grams of fiber daily. Children from four to eight should be consuming 25 grams of fiber on a daily basis.

applesWhile adults don’t have problems eating whatever is necessary for their health, kids are another story. They need something tasty. Here is a list of high-fiber foods that your child will appreciate.

  • Apples with the peel
  • Kiwi
  • Beans
  • Cereal with high fiber content
  • Whole grain bread as part of sandwiches or muffins
  • Baked potatoes with peel
  • Berries with seeds, such as raspberries

3. The Power of Probiotics

Probiotics are essential to the proper functioning of your kid’s digestive system. And while parents can pop a supplement, it’s better for your child to get natural probiotics from the food they eat.

Fermented foods are packed with probiotics. Find your child’s favorite yogurt and make it part of his daily diet. If your child is refusing to eat foods that contain this vital component, then you can consult your doctor. A doctor can recommend using a kid-friendly supplement. It might be in a form of a chewable pill with a yummy flavor.

4. The Importance of Proper Chewing

chewingTeach your children to chew food properly as soon as you start giving them chunks instead of mashed meals. The digestive system is designed to work properly only when all the organs are doing their job. The teeth must break down the food into the smallest pieces in order to simplify the job of other organs, such as esophagus and stomach.

When kids swallow large chunks of food, they can experience digestive problems, such as bloating and constipation. Be an example to your child and show him that chewing is a long yet fun process. The longer the child chews, the more enzymes the salivary glands can produce, the easier further digestion process will be and the more taste the kid can enjoy.

5. Don’t Mess with Stress

stressStress often becomes the reason for different types of digestion problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease. Children are emotional and easily susceptible to stress. That’s why it’s up to the parent to minimize stressful situations especially when it comes to food or defecation.

If you don’t want to be researching such serious treatments as Digestive Science IBS Relief System or browse through supplements like Fiber Choice Prebiotic Fiber, you need to reduce the stress as much as you can.

Yelling at your kid for not eating enough or eating too much will not create any healthy habits. It will only cause stress that will turn into problems with his digestive system. Talk to your child about proper eating when he is away from the table.

Special attention should be given to potty training. Putting too much pressure on a child to learn to use the bathroom will most likely have a reversed effect. Don’t make the bathroom experience stressful or you will end up forcing the child to retain stool that will cause further digestive system problems. Reassure your child and make him feel as relaxed as possible.

6. Be Watchful

If your child is having persisting problems with digestive system and you can’t find a reason, think about intolerance. Many children are intolerant to certain foods. So keeping a diary of your kid’s diet is a good idea. You will soon understand what makes their stomachs upset and can start avoiding such foods. Get a doctor’s advice about the intolerance problem.

Kids are often intolerant to:

  • Gluten
  • Lactose

7. Encourage Activity

encourage activityOne of the most important factors that affect our digestive system is exercise. People who don’t move around often have such digestive problems as constipation That’s why creating digestive system activities for kids is absolutely imperative to their health. Exercises are good for all their organs and digestive system is not an exception.

Physical exercise stimulates the GI tract activity and the food is digested better and faster. Creating fun digestive system games for kids can ensure healthy toilet habits. It’s important not to exercise for about an hour after eating a meal. The best time for different activities is before you eat not after.

Strenuous exercise on a full stomach can lead to such problems with digestive system is reflux, nausea and even vomiting. Basically, choosing the wrong time for playing games can have a reversed effect on the digestive system of your child.

8. Water is Everything

waterSlow chewing and a high-fiber diet are important for proper digestion, but all will be in vain if your kid’s body doesn’t get enough water. In fact, high-fiber foods without appropriate amounts of water can make the matters worse instead of helping the digestion process. Dehydration is a problem that must be avoided at all costs, so make sure that your child is getting plenty of fluids.

This is especially important for children who live in a warm climate or exercise a lot. Sweating takes the fluids out of their body and makes them dehydrated. Children tend to be active, so they usually require more water than adults do.  A child might not always notice that he is dehydrated. That’s why it’s up to the parent to control the situation and offer him water as often as possible.

Forget about carbonated and sports drinks. All they do is give your child too much sugar to digest. The majority of fluids you offer you kid must be pure water. Control the amount of juice your child drinks. Four to eight ounces of juice a day is more than enough to get the vitamins.

9. Healthy Food Habits

Start teaching your kids healthy food habits as soon as they start eating on their own. Here are some helpful tips that will make a difference in your child’s eating habits:

  • Be a good example. Kids tend to copy their parents’ behavior.So if you gulp your food down fast in front of a TV, don’t expect your children to sit down at the dining table and carefully chew their meals.
  • No eating in front of TV. When a person is watching TV while eating, he gets distracted from the process and misses the time when he is full. This leads to overeating.
  • Food is not a punishment or a reward. Don’t punish your kids by taking away their favorite food and don’t reward them by buying candy. This approach will not form any healthy eating habits. By saying that your kid will get a piece of cake after eating vegetables will make him think that vegetables are not important.
  • breakfastAlways eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and skipping it can make your child absent-minded in school. Such approach may also lead to binging on food at lunch, since by the time it comes, the kind is quite hungry.
  • Arrange family dinners. Sitting down to eat with the family is a great way to avoid snacking in front of a TV or on the go. It will also teach your kids the social skills they will need in the future and bring your family closer together.
  • Eat slowly. Slow eating is important for the proper work of your kid’s digestive system. The food needs to be thoroughly chewed. While the child is chewing, the stomach is secreting enzymes for breaking down the food. If he gulps down his meal too fast, the digestive system will work improperly.
  • Listen to your body. It’s easy to miss the messages the body is giving you. Teach your children to listen to their stomachs and understand when they are full and don’t require any more food. This is a useful skill that will keep them from overeating in the future.
  • snacks must be healthySnacks must be healthy. It’s hard to keep children from grabbing snacks in between the meals. Make sure to teach them that snacks must be healthy and never keep unhealthy snacks at home. Fruits, vegetables, cheese and juice make great snacks, while chips, soda and cookies should stay on the store shelf. If possible, try to avoid snacking altogether.
  • Don’t force it. Never force a child to finish what’s on his plate if he doesn’t want it. You will teach him a bad lesson. If the kid is full, forcing him to overeat will lead to obesity in the future. If he is just being naughty, let him go. He will come back and ask for food when he is hungry.
  • Skip the restaurant. Try to cook more meals at home rather than going out to the restaurants and fast food eateries. When you cook a meal yourself, you are sure you are using quality ingredients that don’t have too much sugar, unhealthy fat and salt as food at the restaurants usually does. Involve your kids in the cooking process. They will be glad to eat the food they helped you cook.

Digestive System Facts for Kids

kidsIf you want your children to be more aware about their digestion process in order to help them form better lifestyle habits, teach them some fun and interesting digestive system facts for kids. You might even learn something new yourself.

  1. It takes four to eight seconds for the food to travel from your mouth to your stomach. All depends on how solid it is. The quickest food is porridge with milk, the slowest food is a fat-packed hamburger.
  2. There are over 400 species of bacteria in our colon. Most of it are good bacteria that help our bodies function. Sometimes the bad bacteria take over and causes diarrhea.
  3. A woman’s small intestine is longer than male’s. That’s why they suffer from bloating more often than men do.
  4. The liver is one of the most important organs in our bodies. It has over 500 different functions.
  5. Our stomachs can hold up to one and a half liters of food that can stay there for two to three hours before passing to the small intestine.
  6. The surface area of the small intestine is about 2,700 feet.
  7. The large intestine is about five feet long.
  8. Our salivary glands produce one to three liters of saliva every day.
  9. Hydrochloric acid produced by our stomachs can dissolve metal, but is useless against plastic.
  10. Esophagus will push the food down to your stomach even if you are hang upside down.
  11. The mouth is responsible for cooling or warming the food to the temperature acceptable by the rest of the digestive system
  12. An average person eats about 1,100 pounds of food a year.

Another way to teach your children about what happens with the food after they put it in their mouth is to give them a fun digestive system for kids video to watch. There are plenty available on the Internet.

Ensuring a healthy digestive system for kids is every parent’s job. If you will do your best teaching your children proper eating habits, give them enough information about their bodies and set the right example, you can be sure that your kids will enjoy a worry-free digestion process.

Invest your time into educating your children and giving them the important life lessons that will help them in the future. Remember, no one can teach your kids better than you can by showing them a good example.  

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