By Alane Palmer, ND, CNC, and Annah Gillette
Overuse of juice is a relatively recent phenomenon. Before the rise of soda, juice and other sweetened drinks during the latter half of the 20th century, water and milk were children’s primary beverages. Juice boxes have been a lunch box staple in recent history.
However, more health conscious parents are opting to say NO to conventional additives and sweeteners in their kid’s lunchboxes.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Toxic food dyes
Don’t Be Sugar Fooled! Even the ‘cleaner’ versions of juice are calorie dense without being nutritionally dense. A single 4 oz serving of apple juice is 60 calories, the same as an apple without all the filling fiber. And just because a bottle of juice says there is no added sugar, that does not mean low sugar. Reading the labels becomes necessary.
Dr. David Ludwig, the director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, said that sugar consumed in fruit is not linked to any adverse health effects, no matter how much you eat. In a recent perspective piece in The Journal of the American Medical Association, he cited observational studies that showed that increased fruit consumption is tied to lower body weight and a lower risk of obesity-associated diseases.
Fiber provides “its greatest benefit when the cell walls that contain it remain intact,” he said. Sugars are effectively sequestered in the fruit’s cells, he explained, and it takes time for the digestive tract to breakdown those cells. The sugars, therefore, enter the bloodstream slowly, giving the liver more time to metabolize them. Four apples may contain the same amount of sugar as 24 ounces of soda, but the slow rate of absorption minimizes any surge in blood sugar. Repeated surges in blood sugar make the pancreas work harder and can contribute to insulin resistance, thereby increasing the risk for Type 2 diabetes.
“If we take a nutrient-centric approach, just looking at sugar grams on the label, none of this is evident,” Dr. Ludwig said. “So it really requires a whole foods view.”
Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, who has called sugar “toxic” at high doses and fructose the most “actionable” problem in our diet, is still a fan of fruit. “As far as I’m concerned, fiber is the reason to eat fruit,” since it promotes satiety and the slow release of sugar. He adds a third benefit from fiber: it changes our “intestinal flora,” or microbiome, by helping different species of healthy bacteria thrive.
A typical recommended serving of fruit juice a day is 6 ounces. Most kids have multiple servings of juice, soda, and other sweetened beverages. This is a real problem!
So, should you put juice in your kids lunchboxes this year? There are other options! The best choice for the majority of daily beverages is pure water. Every cell in our bodies depends on water to be healthy and eliminate toxins. We don’t give our pets and plants soda, that would be silly!
We see too many children these days, and adults too that think these harmful sugars are not hurting them. If that was the case, why do we see young people with insulin levels above the normal level? Along with high insulin, can come weight gain, brain fog, a higher than normal appetite, burning sensations in the feet, hair loss, and even infertility as young girls grow up into young adults that want to have children of their own.
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