The Little Seed That Could

flax.jpgToday, Sara Cabot of Little Lettice offers a primer on flax seed:

“In my last post I wrote about the importance of eating a good breakfast, and how protein can help children concentrate through the morning at school. Another nutrient that helps mental health and the ability to focus is omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA). Egg yolks and fish contain this essential fatty acid, which is another reason why they make excellent breakfast items. However, for a couple of my kids, eating too many eggs can cause constipation, and eggs do contain a fair amount of cholesterol. A good solution I have discovered is flax seed.

Flax seed is not technically a grain, but it has a similar vitamin and mineral profile, while being far more nutritious. Here are some of the great properties of flax seed:


  • It is high in ALA (alpha linolenic acid), which is an omega 3, and also very high in fiber.



  • Flax seed oil is a good natural remedy for constipation, but be sure to administer under the direction of a pediatrician because it really is HIGH in fiber! (It is quite strong tasting so it is recommended mixed into orange juice to disguise the taste. You need to store it in the fridge.)



  • Flax seed meal is what we have at home. We sprinkle a couple of teaspoons on our oatmeal or granola in the morning. You need to store the meal in the fridge or freezer to ensure freshness.



  • Whole flax seeds are the best option as you can store them for up to a year and then grind them in a coffee grinder when needed. Store in a cool dark place.


    NB. Even though flax is high in insoluble fiber, which helps constipation, it also contains soluble fiber (dissolves in water) so make sure you drink enough water or else constipation can ensue.

    More on toddler constipation

    Constipation may become a problem oftentimes for the following reasons:


  • Your toddler doesn’t have enough fiber in his diet in the form of whole grains, whole fruits, whole vegetables, etc.



  • Milk comprises too large a proportion of your toddler’s calorie intake



  • Your toddler has had some resistance to being potty trained and has been ‘withholding’ his stool. This can often be linked to resisting food as the toddler realizes he can control both ‘input’ and ‘output.’


    Having dealt with toddler constipation, I know that this is an extremely worrying time for parents. Many pediatricians will recommend a medication called Miralax to deal with this problem. However, if you prefer to use natural methods, flax seed oil is a good, healthy option because you are giving your child omega 3 oil at the same time.

    Other natural ways to combat constipation are:


  • Make sure your toddler drinks enough water.



  • Check your toddler’s milk intake and adjust accordingly.



  • Feed your toddler good high fiber foods such as beans, lentils, and so on. Also, sweet corn, though actually pretty low in nutrients, is a good source of fiber.



  • Dried fruit like prunes, figs, and apricots are great, especially if you simmer them in water beforehand and give the fruit as a dessert and keep the juice as a drink.



  • Try to give more whole grains rather than refined.


    Always keep in mind that we are all biochemical individuals (i.e., we all have different nutritional needs) and what works for one child doesn’t for another. These are anecdotal recommendations from a mother of four; be sure to consult your pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s health and nutrition.”

  • Christine Koh3 Comments