Updated: November 14, 2018 4:59:26 pm
To satisfy your kids’ thirst pangs, opt for water and milk over juices, fresh or artificial.
By Dr Seema Khanna
Water, milk and fresh fruit juices have no comparison with artificially flavoured beverages. Water is an important component for most processes in the body. Without enough water, your body can’t function properly.
Benefits of water include:
* Keeping body temperature within normal range.
* Keeping the skin hydrated and healthy.
* Helping to eliminate waste through urine, sweat and keeping the bowel movement active.
As water is a zero calorie drink, it is excellent for managing weight as well. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day is important for kids as it keeps them hydrated and energetic throughout the day. In neonates, water should be given after the age of six months.
Milk is the most important nutrient for kids
There are different types of milk which can be given to children. Cow’s milk is considered a staple food for children. It is consumed as a beverage, poured on cereal and added to smoothies. It is the best source of calcium and is absorbed well in kids. It is also rich in good quality protein, phosphorous and B vitamins. About 250 ml of milk gives 170 calories and 80 gm of protein.
However, cow’s or buffalo’s milk is not suitable for everyone. Children with milk allergy or lactose intolerance may show symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea and rashes all over the body. Other non-dairy options are available for these types of children, such as soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk and rice milk. Milk contains linoleic acid and omega 3 fatty acids which reduce the risk of diabetes and heart diseases. There are two main types of protein in milk—casein and whey protein. Both are high quality proteins and help in body building and boost immunity.
Higher or good consumption of milk is linked to greater whole body muscle mass and better physical performance in children and adults too.
Fresh fruit juices are recommended instead of canned juices
However, this should be limited to 100-150 ml. Juices help to relieve constipation due to their water content; they also contain sorbitol, which is a non-absorbable carbohydrate. Prune juice, apple juice, pear juice are most recommended juices for children who have bouts of constipation. Smoothies made of guava are also recommended as apple and guava contain pectin which is a good laxative. They also contain vitamin C and iron.
Artificial juices are squeezed from fruits and vegetables and then lots of sugar, preservatives, artificial flavours and enhancers are added to keep them fresh and increase their shelf life. The acidic values of these juices are very high, hence these juices may rather create gastritis or acidity in a layman’s language. These juices with added sugar may increase the body weight in children. Artificial sweeteners, which are added in these juices, if consumed for a long period of time, may hamper kidney and liver functions.
According to a research in the American Academy of Pediatrics, fruit juices should not be given to children under the age of 1 and from ages 1-6 years. Intake of fruit juice should be limited to 100 ml per day.
Soft drinks are added with additives like phosphoric acid, a colourless, odourless crystalline liquid. This gives soft drinks a tangy flavour, prevents the growth of mold and bacteria which multiplies easily in a sugar solution. Phosphoric acid is made from mineral phosphorus, which is found naturally in the body. The mineral plays a major role in the body’s growth. But, too much phosphorus can decrease the amount of calcium in the body leading to bone loss. It can also impair your body’s ability to use other minerals as well.
Sweet carbonated drinks are also linked with weight gain. As and when there is a requirement of fluid for kids, water and milk should be a priority as compared to juices (fresh or artificial).
(The writer is a consultant nutritionist.)
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