I have been getting a lot of kids and adults this time of year with stomach aches, foggy thinking, increased achiness, headaches, and many other issues. After doing some detective work and using our bowel transit time at the clinic using beets or charcoal, we have diagnosed many with a slow colon or classically called constipation. The easiest way to increase the transit time is to use vitamin C, and then while you can get the material moving better, you add in more fiber. The trick is the balance between the vitamin C and the fiber for a while until you can get the muscles of the colon stronger to handle the amount of fiber you are adding in. For those who have a lot of trouble with this balance, I often add probiotics (good bacteria) into their gut as well.
But this problem got me to thinking; in the winter, how can you get more fiber in when there aren’t as many fresh veggies? What if your child is more of a fussy eater?
So in order to not rely on supplements for your entire life, here are some tidbits of information on what you are eating to help your gut work better. First, start your day off with a large glass of lukewarm water. Hydration is key because that is the colon’s job to remove liquid from waste material, but if there is no water, it becomes even more dry and hard to move along. Shoot for 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water per day. Second, have a fresh salad as often as you can with a homemade oil and vinegar dressing. If you use an organic vinegar, I think you may be surprised even your kids might like it. If not, it is real easy to whip up a homemade ranch dressing to keep in the fridge as well. Use dark greens, spinach and add some tomatoes, olives, an avocado, or other garnishes to add a little more veggie variety. But best of all, get an adequate source of roughage in your diet for your fiber intake.
Here are some great high-fiber food ideas/options for you and the kids:
Baked beans (or adding in white beans, black beans and others to many dishes- often they just disappear in them and they are tasty too) (1/2 cup 8 grams)
Whole wheat egg noodles
Apple (4 grams)
Pear (4 grams)
Carrots (1/2 cup cooked 3.4 grams)
Strawberries (1 cup 3 grams)
Orange (2.4 grams)
Popcorn (1 gram for 1 cup)
Raisins (1 tablespoon 1 gram)
Or, hide ground flaxseed in bran muffins, granola bars, pancakes, and other baked goods.
The goal each day to keep your colon healthy is to aim for 25-35 grams of fiber per day and is best in a food form but a natural supplement like psyllium husk and seed is a good option until you learn the balance that is good for you.