Health Notes

New Recommendations When it comes to Juice

by Dr. Elizabeth Walenz on June 13, 2017

Growing up, I drank juice. Summer time was the time for juice, Kool-Aid stands, and a happy meal from McDonalds with orange drink. Today, new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) limit the amount of juice toddlers and kids should drink.

But before we know what limits they’re talking about, we first need to define what “juice” is. If you are in the juice aisle at the grocery store, there are several options.

With drinks classified as “100 percent fruit juice,” water and fruit are the predominant components and there may be extra vitamins or minerals added, such as vitamin D or calcium. If a beverage contains less than 100 percent fruit juice, it has to list the amount of fruit juice and then be labeled as a fruit drink, beverage or cocktail.

Juice is simply carbohydrates or simple sugars and water. One thing we know about any sugar, is that it is bad for teeth. The number one chronic illness in kids is dental cavities, and sugar and juices are big contributors.

Juices contain no fat or cholesterol, and if there is no pulp, there is no fiber. At one point, there was a mentality that a serving of juice could equal a serving of fruit. However, fruit juices are missing a lot of the important nutritional components contained in a serving of actual fruit, namely fiber.

So what does the AAP recommend? It depends on your child’s age:

Daily Juice Recommendations
American Academy of Pediatrics
Under the age of 1 No juice, but fruit is great. Try mashed up blueberries or banana as a first food. The only liquid a child needs in the first year is breast milk, formula and after 6 months of age, water.
1-3 years old 4 ounces per day. This is to be served as a single serving from an open cup to the child at snack time. We do not recommend juice in a bottle as that can contribute to cavities. We also do not recommend juice in a sippy cup that the child totes around throughout the day. This can lead to drinking juice throughout the day, filling up on simple sugars and then the child not much of an appetite for meals.
4-6 years old 4-6 ounces per day
7-18 years old 8 ounces per day

 
Recommendations also include avoiding unpasteurized juices. Pasteurization is the process which helps to remove bacteria from food and drinks. Unpasteurized juices can increase the risk of diarrheal illnesses caused by salmonella, E. coli and cryptosporidium.

Dr. Elizabeth Walenz, Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician
Elizabeth Walenz, MD

Juice does not have a role in treating diarrhea. If a child is vomiting or has diarrhea, Pedialyte is a better option. It does have some sugar, but it also contains the electrolytes we may lose with such illness.

The jury is still out in regards to a link between juice intake and obesity. Further studies are ongoing. Juice can be associated with malnutrition or under nutrition as kids substitute juice for the foods they should be eating.

Fruits and vegetables are important. They provide the necessary vitamins and minerals which help reduce the risk of heart disease. The fiber in fruits and vegetables can help to satisfy hunger cravings and potentially decrease overall caloric intake.

So what’s the takeaway? Head for the fruit basket instead of the juice aisle when feeding your toddlers and older children.


 

Dr. Elizabeth Walenz is a pediatrician now seeing patients at
Methodist Physicians Clinic Regency.
Contact Dr. Walenz at MethodistPR@nmhs.org.
Dr. Elizabeth Walenz, Methodist Physicians Clinic pediatrician

 

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