Nutrient absorption – parents often stumble upon this phrase especially when it comes to child health and development. This is when the body digests molecules, minerals and other nutrients from food into the cavity of the upper intestine1.
But, why is the absorption of nutrients so important?
Without proper nutrient absorption, this could potentially lead to various health problems. This could include intestinal failure in children which happens when the small intestine is unable to properly soak up the nutrients, vitamins or water from their diet. Additionally, malabsorption can also happen in your child when their body cannot absorb the nutrients into their digestive system3.
So, here are six ways you can improve your child’s nutrient absorption.
1. Add healthy fats to your child’s meals
Not all fats are bad. In fact, fats are a crucial substance within a child’s early childhood or infancy period as it support their neurological development and brain functions4. According Milner and Allison (1999) in The Journal of Nutrition Volume 129, fats supplies essential fatty acids and assists in the absorption of key vitamins A, D, E and Ks5, which all require fats to be absorbed!
However, parents must be wary when adding fats to your child’s meals – KidsHealth recommends dedicating one-third of their meals to fat. To keep their fat intake within the right range, try serving more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish and low-fat dairy products as these are naturally low in fat6.
1 (n.d.). Nutrient absorption | List of High Impact Articles | PPts | Journals. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.imedpub.com/scholarly/nutrient-absorption-journals-articles-ppts-list.php
2 (n.d.). Pediatric Intestinal Failure | Children's National Hospital. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://childrensnational.org/visit/conditions-and-treatments/stomach-digestion-gi/intestinal-failure
3 (2015, November 21). Malabsorption - HealthyChildren.org. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/abdominal/Pages/Malabsorption.aspx
4 Milner, J.,Allison, R. (1999). Role of Dietary Fat in Child Nutrition and Development .... Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/129/11/2094/4721978
5 (n.d.). Role of Dietary Fat in Child Nutrition and Development .... Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/129/11/2094/4721978
6 (n.d.). Fats (for Parents) - Nemours KidsHealth. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/fat.html
Alternatively, when cooking their meals try to roast instead of frying as frying food actually adds more fat to the meal – remember, too much fat can also lead to unhealthy weight gain which can lead to health complications later in life7.
2. Know the right food pairings
Just because one substance is able to boost nutrient absorption does not mean you should load up your child’s plate with just that. When preparing your child’s meals, pay close attention to what you pair together. Children should be eating a balanced diet to ensure they get an adequate amount of nutrients from different food groups8 as the body itself cannot churn out all the essential vitamins on its own.
Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health states that half of a child’s plate should be colourful vegetables and fruits, while the other half should be whole grains, as well as healthy protein9. Some quick tips based on their Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate Guide include choosing whole or sliced fruit, minimally processed whole grains, plant-based protein options, limiting red meat and using healthy oils from plants such as extra virgin olive oil.
3. Teach them to chew slower
7 (n.d.). Helping Your Child Who is Overweight | NIDDK. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/helping-your-child-who-is-overweight
8 (2016, December 1). The Importance of Healthy Early Eating Habits. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://novakdjokovicfoundation.org/the-importance-of-healthy-early-eating-habits/
9 (n.d.). Kid's Healthy Eating Plate | The Nutrition .... Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/kids-healthy-eating-plate/
This is an interesting tip you may not have known – chewing properly can actually aid in smoother digestion and nutrient absorption10! Basically, chewing properly means eating slower to ensure you break down your food better. So, just practice the art of chewing with your child and they will surely adopt it into a habit
The science behind this is that when you chew your food properly, digestive enzymes are released in the stomach that allows it to break down the food for your body to convert it into energy11. Also, with thorough food chewing, the mouth releases more saliva that is packed with these digestive enzymes and in turn, improves the digestive process.
We know, sometimes it may be hard to get a hungry child to eat slower, so try rewarding them after every meal where they chew properly.
4. Stay away from sugar
You have heard this one before – sugars are bad. According to the American Heart Association, children below the ages of two should have no sugar at all, while those aged between two and 18 should only have less than 25 grams of sugar per day12.
10 (2018, October 22). Health Expert Luke Coutinho Tells Us To Chew Your Food .... Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.ndtv.com/health/health-expert-luke-coutinho-tells-us-to-chew-food-slowly-know-why-is-it-important-for-your-health-1935480
11 11(2018, October 22). Health Expert Luke Coutinho Tells Us To Chew Your Food .... Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.ndtv.com/health/health-expert-luke-coutinho-tells-us-to-chew-food-slowly-know-why-is-it-important-for-your-health-1935480
12 (n.d.). Sugar Recommendation Healthy Kids and Teens Infographic .... Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/sugar-recommendation-healthy-kids-and-teens-infographic
However, simple sugars that are found in nutritious foods such as fruits or vegetables13 are good and support overall growth. It is the bad sugars you need to look out for. The bad sugars are known as “refined sugars” which are added sugars in items including candy or soda14. These sugars contain no nutrients and are usually high in calories which can decrease nutrient absorption due to intestinal irritation or damage15.
5. Cut processed foods
Processed food are food items that have been refined from its original form16 such as processing fruit into a breakfast bar, canned food and fast food. These foods usually contain added sugars which we know does not benefit a child’s growth.
Additionally, certain processed foods contain high amounts of salt and fat to enhance flavour, as well as increase their shelf life17. The fat types in these foods are mostly saturated fat, which have less to little benefit18.
However, not all processed foods should be avoided. Items such as milk need to be processed and pasteurised to remove harmful bacteria19. Just be wary of the food labels when grocery shopping to check the nutritional information.
6. Supplement their diet with Mamil® D-Gest Pro+
Good intestinal health supports nutrient absorption – that’s a fact. This is because one of the main functions for a gut is to absorb nutrients from food into the body20.
13 (n.d.). Carbohydrates and Sugar (for Parents) - Nemours KidsHealth. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sugar.html
14 (n.d.). Carbohydrates and Sugar (for Parents) - Nemours KidsHealth. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sugar.html
15 (2016, August 2). Added sugars drive nutrient and energy deficit in ... - NCBI. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4975866/
16 (2019, March 29). 8 ways to avoid processed food - Children's Health. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.childrens.com/health-wellness/8-ways-to-avoid-processed-food
17 (2019, October 29). Up to two-thirds of packaged foods too high in fat, sugar and .... Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2019/10/29/Up-to-two-thirds-of-packaged-foods-too-high-in-fat-sugar-and-salt-JRC
18 (n.d.). Types of Fat - Harvard TH Chan School of .... Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/types-of-fat/
19 (n.d.). Eating processed foods - NHS. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/what-are-processed-foods/
20 (n.d.). Prebiotics, probiotics and your health - Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/prebiotics-probiotics-and-your-health/art-20390058
Hence, the focus on your child’s gut health is imperative - the good bacteria (probiotics) within the gut needs to be nurtured and supported by prebiotics21 for them to properly absorb nutrients to ensure the ability of the body’s crucial functions.
Mamil® D-GestPro+ can help with boosting your child’s gut health. It is an affordable, yet beneficial choice for parents- it is sucrose-free and contains a prebiotic mix that supports gut health for children aged up to nine-years-old.
Mamil® D-GestPro+’s formulation contains:
- A unique prebiotic mixture: It is formulated with a unique Oligosaccharide mixture GOS/IcFOS (9:1) that increases good bacteria and helps maintain a healthy gut flora.
- Milk from grass-fed cows: It is sourced from cows that are predominantly grass fed, which means it is high in protein, calcium and vitamin D.
- DHA*: This is a key component that is essential for your child’s growth and brain development.
Remember, without good gut health, it could lead to poor nutrient absorption which could hinder their growth and development. So, boost your child’s intestinal environment with Mamil® D-GestPro+ today.
Need more information on Mamil®; D-GestPro+? Visit Our Benefits website!
*Mamil® Step 3 DHA content, based on 3 servings/day
21 (n.d.). Prebiotics, probiotics and your health - Mayo Clinic. Retrieved September 30, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/prebiotics-probiotics-and-your-health/art-20390058