Is fruit juice really healthful for our kids? Here's why experts are tightening fruit juice intake guidelines for children.
Fruit juice is the drink all parents count on — it’s full of nutrients and the kids love it. Unfortunately, you might want to think twice the next time you squeeze out fruit juice to beat the heat.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has released new fruit juice intake guidelines, advising that the drink isn’t as healthy as most parents believe. They now recommend tougher restrictions for kids of all ages than those set out previously.
The new report explains that even 100% fruit juice doesn’t equal fresh fruit, as we might think. While fruit juice may contain nutrients like vitamin C and calcium, it lacks the protein and fiber which are important for your children’s growth.
In fact, too much fruit juice might have negative effects on younger kids! Dr Elsie Taveras, commenting on the changes in The Straits Times, said, “We have studies that show infants who drink more juice in that early life period are more likely to go on to drink soda and sugar-containing beverages.”
Here are the new guidelines recommended for parents, broken down by age of child:
Babies from 0-1 years
Children aged one and below should be given no fruit juice, unless advised by doctors for treating constipation.
Previously, the AAP advised zero intake only for babies below 6 months. However since then, research has shown possible links between fruit juice consumption and obesity, as well as dental cavities.
Though fruit juice can be nutritious, the report states that it has “virtually no role” during your child’s first year. Not only that, those expensive juice products that claim to be designed for infants are “not of value”!
Toddlers aged 1-3 years
Daily intake of 100% juice products should be no more than 4 ounces, or about 118 ml.
The researchers warn that for older toddlers, juice should not be sipped throughout the day as we do with water, nor drunk at bedtime. This is because it can over-expose their teeth to the carbohydrates in fruit juice, leading to dental cavities.
Parents also shouldn’t use it to calm upset children, or to manage diarrhea. In fact, drinking too much fruit juice can cause diarrhea or abdominal distention.
Children aged 4-6 years
Daily consumption of 100% fruit juice should be no more than 4-6 ounces, or about 118-177 ml.
Children aged 7-18 years
Daily 100% fruit juice intake should not exceed 8 ounces, or around 236ml. This comprises 1 cup of the daily recommended 2-2½ cups of fruit servings.
If you’d still like some clarification, here’s a helpful video from the American Academy of Pediatrics that sums up the changes:
Tips for parents
Here are some tips to help you and your family adapt to the new fruit juice intake guidelines!
Replace fruit juice with milk or water — Chilled, low-fat or non-fat milk is a great option to beat the heat. And of course, nothing beats a cup of water for refreshment and re-hydration.
Turn to fresh fruit — Fresh, whole fruit is packed with fiber and essential in kids’ diets! For infants, you can mash or puree the fruit to make it easy to swallow, or cut into wedges if you are following baby-led weaning.
Don’t dilute — You might be wondering if you can ‘cheat’ a little on the guidelines by mixing fruit juice with water. Unfortunately, according to the report, diluting doesn’t necessarily decrease the dental health risks to your kids.
Blend, don’t juice — Juicing removes the fiber of the fruit whereas blending retains it!
Wait an hour to brush — Fruit juice softens the enamel protecting teeth from decay. Wait at least an hour before brushing to let the enamel harden once more.
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