As warm summer days start arriving, so does the need to keep your family hydrated. But choosing the wrong post-soccer game drink can lead to bad dental health. Check out these sports drink alternatives and dental health tips for you and your kids.
Have you ever taken a look at the nutritional facts on a can of Sprite or Gatorade?
Every time I do, I shudder.
Young children are supposed to consume 12 to 16 grams of sugar per day. Preteens and teenagers should have between 21 and 35 grams, depending on their age and gender.
But some of these sodas, sports drinks and sweetened iced teas have more than half, if not all, of the sugar your child is supposed to consume per day.
Most people are aware that consuming too much sugar can present some serious health issues, such as obesity and diabetes. Add an unhealthy mouth to that list, as too much sugar can lead to tooth decay.
So what types of drinks should you and your kids avoid this summer? What are some tips on how to manage your family’s intake of these beverages? Check out my advice below.
What drinks should you avoid?
- Sports drinks. Although great for replenishing electrolytes after a soccer game in the summer heat, these drinks are also packed with sugar. Experts say if your child is running around for less than an hour, stick to water. However, if it’s more, limit his or her sports drink intake to one serving (8 fl oz — which has 14 grams of sugar), or cut it with water.
- Iced tea. A serving of sweetened AriZona Iced Tea has 23 grams of sugar. So unless it’s unsweetened, stay away.
- Sodas. In addition to having a ton of sugar (a 16 fl oz bottle of Coca Cola has 44 grams), most sodas also contain sulfuric acid, which is bad for tooth enamel.
- Fruit juices. Don’t be fooled by the allure of “vitamin-packed” fruit juice. For example, most people are unaware that a serving of Tropicana Pure Premium O.J. has 22 grams of sugar.
- Lemonade. One serving of sweetened lemonade has on the ups of 25 grams of sugar. Yikes!
- Koolaid. Don’t touch this unless you want your child to be bouncing off the walls. This artificial mix has 24 grams of sugar…per serving.
What are some better options?
- Water. Your kids probably think it’s a little boring. But a glass of ice cold water is the best way for them to keep hydrated both on and off the basketball court.
If you are looking for something a little more fun, try…
- Infused water. Be creative! Squeeze some lemon and lime into a glass of ice cold water. Or throw in some raspberries. Or cucumber slices! The possibilities are endless. Check a website like Pinterest for ideas.
- Unsweetened iced tea. Tea is great for you! It’s a low-calorie, low-sugar drink that’s packed with antioxidants. Don’t give your kids the caffeinated stuff before bedtime, but it’s a great substitute for other sweet drinks during the day.
Are there any other tips worth knowing?
- Cut with water. If you are going to have any kind of sugary drink, dilute it with water. That way, you still get some of the flavor without all of the sugar. I do this when I give my kids Gatorade when they are sick.
- Try something fun. I remember, when I was a child, my mom made old-school iced tea outside, and let us kids join in for the fun. Here’s how it’s done.
- Avoid diet anything. These are packed with aspartame, which may be worse for you than sugar itself. Some soda companies are even nixing the ingredient all together.
- Choose fruit bars over push pops. Fruit bars are a great substitute for Flintstones push pops. Although they contain the same amount of sugar, at least they have some nutrition.
- “Sip all day and get decay.” Sipping sugary drinks all day increases the acidity in your mouth, making you more prone to cavities. So if you are going to let your child have a sugary drink, make them down it all at once.
Heck, ripping off a Band-Aid is better than inching it off, right?
The moral of the story: everything is fine in moderation. Be aware of the health consequences of too much sugar on your teeth, and be prepared with healthier ways to stay hydrated this summer!