Is Juice Healthy For Your Kids?
Fruit – to Juice or not to Juice?
Fruit juice is often promoted as a healthy alternative to fizzy, sugary soft drinks and many parents believe it is a good choice for their children. Is it really more healthy? There’s no doubt that it is the better option. The sugar in soft drinks can play havoc with blood sugar levels and lead in the long run to serious health problems such as diabetes.
I’m sure you’ve heard of insulin: this is the hormone that controls our blood sugar. When our blood sugar levels fluctuate in extremes from over-eating refined carbohydrates, the natural feedback system involving insulin is stressed. Type 2 diabetes is the result of this pattern continuing over many years. Artificial sweeteners and other additives in many soft drinks or ‘energy drinks’ pose another set of health risks.
Pure fruit juice is a more natural product and certainly contains none of the additives found in soft drinks. However juice is still full of sugars (fructose) which can cause the same extreme response in blood sugar and insulin levels as sucrose, or ‘white’ sugar.
Eating whole fruit has a moderate effect on our blood glucose compared to drinking the juice only. The insulin response from drinking the juice is double that from eating the whole orange. In hot weather it is possible to drink more than two litres of fruit juice in day. We would never eat the equivalent in whole fruit – perhaps 25 apples or oranges. When we are thirsty the presence of sugar in a drink actually slows down the rate of entry of water into the body.
As with so many aspects of nutrition moderation is the key! If we do drink fruit juice in any quantity it is best to drink it diluted with water. This is especially important for young children. Even a mixture of half juice and half water is a sweet drink. When we need to drink large quantities of liquid the best one is good old-fashioned water.