“The beta-carotene in sweet potato is converted into vitamin A the same day it is eaten,” said Erick Boy, the head of Nutrition at HarvestPlus, a global program to improve nutrition.
“This vitamin A is used by the cells lining the gut to help form a barrier to invading germs. These cells are regenerated every few days, so cells that have been weakened due to lack of vitamin A are quickly replaced by healthy cells when there is enough vitamin A.” (Also Read: Quick Fix: Bananas For Diarrhea)
The study found a 42 percent reduction in the likelihood that children under the age of five who ate orange sweet potato within the past week would experience diarrhea.
The study appeared in journal World Development.
For children under three years of age who ate orange sweet potato, the likelihood of having diarrhea was reduced by more than half (52 percent).
Orange sweet potato also reduced the duration of diarrhea. For children who had diarrhea, eating the vegetable reduced the duration of illness by more than 10 percent in children under five, and more than 25 percent in children aged under three. (Also Read: Soothe Diarrhea With These 4 Power Herbs)
“Using orange sweet potato to provide vitamin A is a fraction of that cost. Given the popularity of the vegetable, which is because kids love its sweet taste, we think it is a sustainable solution to improve nutrition and child health in many countries complemented by supplementation where it is cost-effective,” Alan de Brauw, senior research fellow at International Food Policy Research Institute, said.