Benefits of dietary fibre for children in health and disease

Iva Hojsak, Marc A Benninga, Bruno Hauser, Aydan Kansu, Veronica B Kelly, Alison M Stephen, Ana Morais Lopez, Joanne Slavin, Kieran Tuohy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fibre is an essential nutrient in the human diet that is crucial for human health. It provides a range of functional benefits, including stool bulking, and physiological benefits through fermentation of diverse fibre types by the gut microbiome including cholesterol lowering, glycaemic control and weight control. The by-products of the fermentation of fibre in the gut confer health benefits that extend beyond the gut to the immune system and organs such as the liver, kidneys and the brain. A lack of fibre in the diet has been associated with several disorders in children including constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and immune-related disorders. In paediatric practice, concerns exist over tolerance of dietary fibre which may lead to unnecessary restrictions, especially for children receiving nutritional support. One reason for this may be the terminology which has historically been used. Fibre is often described in terms of its physico-chemical properties (solubility, viscosity), rather than its physiological effects/functionality (fermentability, bulking effects). To describe fibre in these latter terms represents more clearly the important role it plays. Most international guidelines recommend a daily quantity of fibre, failing to mention the quality aspect of the fibre required for health. Here we consider the evidence base for the current recommendations for daily fibre intakes for healthy children, those requiring nutritional support and those with functional gastrointestinal disorders. We also consider the importance of the gut microbiome and the role of fibre in maintaining gut microbial health and its role in health beyond the gut.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-979
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Volume107
Issue number11
Early online date2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

Copyright:
This record is sourced from MEDLINE/PubMed, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Keywords

  • child health
  • gastroenterology
  • paediatrics

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