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Editor's Special Interest Articles

Establishing New Eating Habits

As we move into the cold and flu season -- whether your kids are in day care, elementary, or even middle- or high-school -- now is a great time to make sure they are eating and drinking the foods that are best for them. Drinking a glass of 100 percent juice is an easy, healthy way for young children to get one of the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables they need every day. And introducing 100 percent juice as a healthy beverage while kids are young and parents have the most control over their eating patterns is a great way to steer children away from soda and other sugary alternatives and towards a life-long pattern of healthy eating.

Juice, like any food, should be consumed in moderation, experts tell us. But there is more to it than that. Some juices are just easier for many kids to digest than others, and pediatricians often point to two factors to explain why: does the juice contain sorbitol, an undigestible sugar alcohol, and does it have an even balance of the carbohydrates fructose and glucose?

White grape juice, unlike apple or pear juice, contains no sorbitol and has the proper balance of fructose and glucose. And while several studies have shown white grape juice to be easier for infants and toddlers to digest, digestive concerns involve many school-aged children as well. As many as 10 percent of school-aged children complain of chronic abdominal pain -- some of which could be attributed to the type of juice they are drinking.

"Much research has been done on carbohydrate malabsorption in very young children -- 6 to 18 months of age, for example -- and the scientific consensus is that white grape juice is easier to digest than apple juice or pear juice in this population," explains Marvin Ament, M.D., chairman, Department of Pediatrics, UCLA School of Medicine. "Our study looked at a significantly broader population and showed that for some young people, the choice of juice may continue to have medical significance well into the teens."

Dr. Ament's research included 28 kids 9 months to 18 years old who regularly drank more than 6 ounces of apple juice or pear nectar and were diagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome, functional abdominal pain or chronic non-specific diarrhea. He and his colleagues found that some or all of these symptoms might be alleviated by drinking white grape juice instead of apple or pear juice. In the study, the kids refrained from drinking juice for one month and then switched to white grape juice for 11 months. Seventy percent of the kids in the study stopped presenting symptoms and remained symptom-free through the study conclusion. Those children who regularly drank less than 12 ounces of juice a day showed no significant changes one way or the other.

"Fruit juice is an important part of young people's diets, but there are some children who just cannot tolerate the particular carbohydrate profiles of apple juice or pear juice," explains Ament. "This is likely due to two factors: these juices have a high fructose to glucose ratio -- approximately two to one -- and they both contain sorbitol. When the subjects started drinking comparable amounts of white grape juice instead of apple juice or pear juice, we saw no recurrence of symptoms in almost three-quarters of the group."

These days, parents as well as school and day care administrators are looking more closely than ever at what kids are eating and drinking. With all the pressure on kids these days to make the wrong eating choices, the need to instill healthy eating habits at an early age has never been greater. As part of a balanced diet, 100 percent juice -- perhaps 100 percent white grape juice -- is a great place to start.

Courtesy of ARA Content

- Updated: December 25, 2003
Beno Clinic Chiropractic Center, P.C., along with all information provided, is for educational purposes only and is not an attempt to replace the need to seek healthcare services or to provide specific healthcare advice. We strongly encourage users to consult with their chiropractor or other qualified healthcare professionals for personal healthcare attention and answers to personal questions.
Beno Clinic Chiropractic Center, P.C.
8983 M-119 (P.O. Box 479)
Petoskey, MI 49770
Dr. James J. Beno
Phone: 231-347-4445
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