Story by: Norton Children’s on December 3, 2020
A child’s urinary system plays an important role in filtering and eliminating waste products from the body.
A balanced diet filled with key power foods can have a big impact on keeping the body healthy. Our specialists at Norton Children’s Urology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, recommend five power foods to improve urinary health.
Water. Drinking plenty of water is the most important way to improve your child’s urinary and digestive systems. Drinking enough water helps flush bacteria from the urinary tract, which prevents infection and helps the digestive tract function regularly. Children should drink one 8-ounce cup of water for every year in age (a 2-year-old should drink two 8-ounce cups of water). This should be increased with increased activity or in the warmer or colder seasons.
Sprucing up your child’s water with fruit, cucumber slices or a sprig of fresh mint can help them choose water over other options.
Recipe: Infused water
Cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, oh my! Berries promote urinary tract health and provide protection against infection with an important compound that helps fight bacteria and keeps it from sticking to the lining of the urinary tract.
One of the best ways to get a large amount of berries into your child’s diet is through smoothies. Fresh or frozen berries offer a tasty option for your child, no matter what is in season.
Recipe: Berry smoothie
Eating yogurt and other cultured dairy products (fermented with “good” bacteria) regularly may decrease the risk for urinary tract infections by up to 80%. When selecting yogurt for your child, it is important to look for a statement on the packaging that says “contains live and active cultures.” Yogurt contains good bacteria, also called active cultures, that help prevent certain infections and boost the body’s immune system. Yogurt is an effective way to keep your child’s digestive system in good working order.
Yogurt popsicles are an enjoyable and healthy treat. The freezing process does not kill a significant amount of the active cultures in yogurt. In fact, during the freezing process the cultures go into a dormant state, but when eaten and returned to a warm temperature within the body, they again become active and are capable of providing the benefits of cultures in a refrigerated yogurt product.
Recipe: Frozen yogurt pops
Lack of regular bowel movements can cause pressure in the urinary tract and block urine flow, allowing bacteria to grow. A diet high in fiber paired with drinking enough water promotes healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. Fiber won’t work without enough water in the diet. Some of the best sources of fiber for children are whole-grain breads, apples, bananas, other fruits and legumes (dried beans, lentils, etc.).
Recipe: Bran muffin bites
Oranges, lemons, strawberries and green leafy vegetables packed with vitamin C prevent bacteria from growing in the system. In addition, vitamin C helps cuts and wounds heal, boosts the immune system, helps your child’s gums stay healthy, keeps infections at bay and helps the body absorb iron from food sources.
A great rule for picking fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C is to choose ones that are brightly colored. Vitamin C is water soluble, so any excess is flushed from the body in your child’s urine — but when consumed in excess can cause an upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea. Children ages 1 to 3 should not get more than 400 milligrams each day and children ages 4 to 8 should not get more than 650 milligrams a day.
Recipe: Sunshine smoothie
This story was reviewed by Jeffrey T. White, M.D., pediatric urologist, Norton Children’s Urology.