Common Speed Bumps in Children’s Nutrition
For our second last week of our blog series on children’s nutrition it is important to look at just exactly why sugar and soft drinks are just no good.
The trouble with soft drink
The main issue with soft drink is the resorption of calcium due to the phosphate content. Calcium is needed for healthy teeth and bones among a myriad of other functions.
Tooth decay occurs due to the high sugar content which encourages plaque formation. Also the acids that most soft drinks contain can also damage teeth. A soft drink being slowly sipped maintains a sugary environment in the mouth for extended periods of time, and is worse than a bar of chocolate quickly eaten.
On average cola drinks contain 30-40 mg of caffeine, you may not think that is much and while this is not a hazardous amount for adults, it is for children. Caffeine promotes urination, and can sometimes cause dehydration. Furthermore it is a stimulant, making it difficult to sleep. Children can also become addicted and a break can lead to headaches and other withdrawal effects. Soft drink consumption has been linked to heart disease, obesity and diabetes
Other deleterious substances are the additives used in soft drinks. Many of them are suspected of being carcinogenic. Sulphites (a preservative) can be a trigger for asthma. Fructose used in soft drinks can trigger irritable bowel syndrome, a painful intestinal disorder.
The trouble with sugar
Children love sugar, but the more sugar you eat the more desensitized your taste buds get and the more you need to have in order to replicate that intense sweetness.
Taste buds and preferences can be genetic but inevitably children like what you’ve trained their taste buds to like (if you have been pandering to their sweet tooth); the good news is you can also coach them to like healthy foods too. It takes kids 5-6 times seeing and tasting something new before they will really like it.
Some children are more sensitive to the effects of sugar then others, making them hyperactive and experiencing frequent urination and insomnia. High sugar diets can lead to obesity and diabetes , as well as the afore mentioned tooth decay.
Try using sugar alternatives that at least contain some nutrition. Sweeteners such as honey and coconut sugar are still a form of sugar but contain iron, magnesium and zinc, furthermore coconut sugar has a GI of 35 compared to cane sugar which has a GI of 68. Enjoying natural sugars such as in fruit is a great way to ween your child off sweeteners. Try adding bananas and halving the sugar in your next batch of muffins.
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Hu F.B (2009) Sugar Sweetened Soft Drink Consumption And Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes And Cardiovascular Risk. Official j of the Inter Chair on Cardiometabolic risk; 2(2):15-18.