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Be Well for Parents - March 2011 Digestive Health Issue

Color Me Healthy: Encourage Kids to 'Taste the Rainbow'

By Andrea Adler, RD, CSP, LD

Fruits and vegetables are important in your child’s diet. They provide the wide variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals that kids need to maintain good health and energy levels. In the future, they will help protect your children against the effects of aging and may reduce their risks of developing cancer and heart disease.

Fruits and vegetables come in a wide range of colors that signal the nutrients they contain. So remember the rainbow when planning kids’ meals:

Rev up the red. Fruits and veggies such as apples, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelons and strawberries are rich in fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, antioxidants, and the phytochemicals lycopene and anthocyanin. These nutrients help to improve heart and memory function as well as urinary tract health.

Opt for orange and yellow. Fruits and veggies such as corn, oranges, peaches, sweet potatoes, papayas and mangos are rich in fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, and the carotenoid and bioflavonoid phytochemicals. These nutrients help to improve heart and immune function as well as vision.

Go for the green. Fruits and veggies such as cabbage, leafy greens, peas, broccoli, zucchini, kiwi, cucumbers and avocados are rich in fiber, folate, potassium, and the phytochemicals lutein and indole. These nutrients help to improve vision, and strengthen bones and teeth.

Bring on the blue and purple. Fruits and veggies such as blueberries, eggplant, plums, blackberries, purple grapes/raisins, purple cabbage and purple figs are rich in fiber, vitamin E, antioxidants, and the anthocyanin and phenolic phytochemicals. These nutrients can promote healthy aging and help to improve memory and urinary tract health.

Work in white, tan and brown. Fruits and veggies such as bananas, cauliflower, onions, brown pears, white corn and mushrooms are rich in fiber, selenium and phytochemicals such as allicin. These nutrients can improve heart function and can help to maintain normal cholesterol.

When planning and preparing healthy meals, let your kids help. Doing so will encourage them to experiment with new tastes and textures that are good for them. And don’t consider color alone; get creative. Young kids, in particular, enjoy food cut into interesting shapes and meals arranged like pictures on the plate.

Choose Fruits & Veggies in Season

Specific fruits and vegetables are ripe at different times of year in this region:


Blueberries (late spring)
Cantaloupe (late spring)
Green beans (late spring)
Strawberries (mid-spring)
Tomatoes (mid-spring)

Broccoli (late spring)
Corn (late spring)
Leafy greens (mid-spring)
Squash (late spring)
Watermelon (mid-spring)

Cabbage (late spring)
Cucumbers (late spring)
Peaches (late spring)
Sweet potatoes


Blueberries (mid-summer)
Leafy greens
Strawberries (mid-summer)

Broccoli (early summer)
Corn (late spring)
Grapes (late summer)

Green beans
Peas (mid-summer)
Sweet potatoes
White potatoes


Corn (early fall)
Grapes (early fall)
Peaches (early fall)
Sweet potatoes

Green beans (mid-fall)
Tomatoes (mid-fall)

Cantaloupe (early fall)
Eggplant (early fall)
Leafy greens
Squash (mid-fall)
Watermelon (early fall)



Cabbage (early winter)

Sweet potatoes

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Children's Hospital Tip: Leave Baby Fat Behind

About one-third of 2-year-olds are overweight or obese. Begin obesity prevention early by breastfeeding as long as you can. Start babies on healthy solids such as veggies and brown rice. Keep portions small (the size of your child’s fist). Avoid sugared beverages. Don’t park kids in front of the TV; encourage activity. But never put a chubby toddler on a diet without medical supervision.

Parents Children's Health Essentials – March 2011 Issue

Antibiotic May Relieve Irritable Bowel Syndrome

It has many names: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), spastic colon, irritable colon, nervous stomach. No matter what you call it, IBS is not an easy condition to cope with, producing abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation.

Most IBS sufferers are young women, and some have a family history of IBS. The condition appears to be caused by a colon that contracts more readily, producing the undesirable symptoms. Although IBS can be embarrassing, it is not life-threatening, yet its tendency to flare and fade throughout life can be frustrating and discouraging.

If IBS affects you, you may spend years avoiding certain foods — as well as stressful situations — to avoid triggering symptoms. Now it appears that for some people, taking an antibiotic may bring substantial relief.

Benefits substantial for some

A large, well-received study has shown that the antibiotic rifaximin (Xifaxan®) provided significant relief for 40 percent of IBS patients whose symptoms included diarrhea. The multicenter study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 6, 2011.

“Rifaximin only works in some patients, so it is not a panacea. However, it has few side effects or drug interactions, so it may be worth trying,” says John Vargo, MD, MPH, Cleveland Clinic’s Chairman of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Research suggests that 30 to 80 percent of IBS patients might benefit from rifaximin. The broad-spectrum antibiotic is currently used to treat traveler’s diarrhea.

The FDA is ruling on rifaximin for IBS in March 2011. If approved, it will be the first new medication approved for the treatment of IBS with diarrhea in 10 years.

Fewer side effects

When it comes to antibiotics, rifaximin causes fewer side effects than other drugs because it stays in the intestines. After two weeks on the drug, study participants remained free of IBS symptoms for several months. Moreover, even after two or three courses of treatment, there was no evidence that bacteria were becoming resistant to the antibiotic. This suggests that when the drug works, it may continue to work for a long time.

Rifaximin is not suitable for people with IBS and constipation. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in trying the antibiotic to see if you are one of the people for whom it works.

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Parents Children's Health Essentials – March 2011 Issue

Free Guide to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affects people of all ages — children and adolescents as well as adults. Two million Americans suffer from its most common forms, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Learn more about how IBD is diagnosed and managed in this helpful guide.

Recipe: Grilled Pizza


1 package prepared whole-wheat pizza crust (found in refrigerated section)
½ cup prepared pesto sauce
4 ounces soft, low-fat goat cheese, cut in small cubes
1 large ripe tomato, sliced thin
⅓ cup canned roasted red pepper, drained well and cut in thin strips
6 ounces precooked chicken breast, cut in small chunks


Spray or brush grill grate with oil. Preheat grill to medium-high.

Brush or spray a cutting board or large pan with olive oil. Spread out pizza dough with oiled fingers into the desired crust shape.

Prepare vegetables, chicken and cheese in small cups or bowls. Set aside.

When you are ready to grill, put pizza dough on grill and cover. Cook for approximately 2 to 3 minutes, or until the top begins to bubble and the bottom is lightly browned. Flip over and brush with pesto sauce. Working quickly, add the tomatoes, roasted red peppers and chicken. Dot with cheese. Cover and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Take off the heat and enjoy!

Makes 6 Servings

Nutrition Information

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 428
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Total Fat: 12 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5 g
  • Sodium: 540 mg
  • Calcium: 95 mg
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Potassium: 410 mg
  • Magnesium: 80 mg
Did You Know?

Grilling animal products causes formation of potent carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) within food. These substances can trigger the cancer process. Grilling vegetables and other nonmeat foods and decreasing cooking time for animal foods lowers this risk. Experiment with different vegetables and fruits on your grill this upcoming season for a healthy grilling experience.

Recipe created by Digestive Disease Institute registered dietitians

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Parents Children's Health Essentials – March 2011 Issue

Let's Move It! Free Mobile App

Let Cleveland Clinic and your mobile phone keep you motivated. More than just a pedometer, our free mobile app offers walking challenges, a calorie tracker and videos to encourage and inspire.