Make the Healthy Choice
Stop choosing sugary drinks. Choose water and low-fat milk instead. This simple step can have a big impact on your health and your family’s health. Sugary drinks include sodas, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and juice.
Water is fuel for your body! It is the best choice before, during, and after physical activity. Save sports drinks for long periods of high intensity activity. It is easy to add flavor to your water – add fresh lemon, lime, or orange wedges to add some natural flavor! Anyone older than 9 years of age should drink 7-10 cups of water every day. Children ages 4-8 years should drink 4-5 cups of water every day and children 3 and under should drink 2-3 cups every day. Be a role model for your kids and drink more water – it will not only help you, but help them be healthy too!
Milk contains nine essential nutrients, making it one of the most nutrient-dense beverages. Milk contains calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and niacin, which are all important for healthy body functions. Calcium is a mineral found naturally in some foods and drinks. It works with other vitamins and minerals to build strong bones and teeth. The best source of calcium in the diet is milk and milk products. It is recommended to drink low-fat or fat-free milk products. Other foods that also contain calcium include turnips, beets, kale, broccoli, cottage cheese, pinto beans, almonds, and oranges. If you or your child has an allergy to milk or milk products, ask your physician about
Juice and Fruit-flavored Drinks
Real fruit is always the better choice because it provides more nutrients and less calories. If you must drink or serve juice, choose 100% real fruit juice, but make sure you read the label! Juices labeled “drink” or “punch” may contain less than 5% real fruit juice. “Fruit-flavored” drinks are sweetened with sugar and contain little to no fruit juice at all.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
- Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits for infants younger than 6 months and no benefits over whole fruit for infants older than 6 months and children.
- Fruit juice is NOT appropriate in treating dehydration or diarrhea.
- Excessive juice consumption may be associated with malnutrition, diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal distention, and tooth decay.
Sports drinks are flavored beverages that usually contain sugar, and electrolytes (like sodium, potassium, and calcium). Most people do not need sports drinks. They are recommended only when you have been doing continuous, intense physical activity for an hour or longer. If you drink sports drinks when you have been participating in routine physical activity, or just to satisfy thirst when you are not active, you increase your risk of excess weight gain.
Energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks and are NEVER recommended to children and adolescents. Energy drinks are flavored drinks that usually contain stimulants (like caffeine), sugar, added vitamins or minerals, and maybe even protein. Energy drinks may cause increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, trouble sleeping, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, upset stomach, and caffeine toxicity.