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Fruit Juice poses health risk for babies say pediatricians

Fruit Juice poses health risk for babies say pediatriciansMany at times when people talk about fruit juice you should know they are not really referring to the real thing. This is what confuses most people as well – to think that ‘fruit juice’ might be injurious to your health. What may be injurious is the so-called fruit juice which is bandied everywhere as some sort of special nourishment. But these packaged juices most of the time are not wholesome in that they are hardly natural; they contain a lot of additives such as colourant and preservatives, not to talk of artificial flavours, etc.

For this reason they may not be very healthy when consumed aplenty even by adults, let alone when they are fed to kids. And so, experts have warned that giving your children these ‘fortified’ juices may be harmful to them. Rather, they say you may give a little to the older children. Over the years it has been known that these packaged juices have in no small ways contributed to the rampant cases of obesity and poor dental health especially among children and teenagers in advanced climes.

Steven Abrams, MD, is co-lead author of a recent research, chair of paediatrics at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School as well as a neonatologist at Dell Children’s Medical Centre in Austin, USA. He says some physicians on the ‘AAP Committee on Nutrition’ wanted to recommend that juice be taken away from children’s diets completely.

Abraham says “Paediatricians are really trying to find ways to fight the obesity epidemic.” In their published recommendations they urged for moderation, stating that it should be after a child has attained one year old. Furthermore, they point out that even real fruit juice is no substitute for real fruit plucked off a plant. “For parents, the first takeaway is that there is no routine role for fruit juice in the first year of life,” Abrams added.

The experts recommend that the first food or nutrients for the child in the first six months should be exclusively from the mother’s breast milk, and that ‘fruit juices’ offer no nutritional values for babies whatsoever during the first year. It is also stressed that unless a product is 100% fruit juice it cannot be called ‘juice’, otherwise it should be referred to as drink, cocktail or beverage. The experts further advised that any of such packaged products should indicate the percentage of fruit juice it actually contains.

Very importantly they note that even 100% juice is never close to being a substitute for a real piece of fruit. Packaged juice cannot give you the desired filling, and contains more sugar than fruit pieces which is usually added sometimes. It contains no natural plant proteins that fruits have, as well as no fibre, unless pulp is deliberately added as well.

Experts however warn that in particular, grapefruit (packaged) juice should be strictly avoided by patients who are on certain medicaments metabolised by an enzyme called CYP3A4. This is so because the juice is capable of diminishing the activity of this enzyme. These drugs in this regard are such as cyclosporine, tacrolimus, atorvastatin, felodipine, fexofenadine and certain antiretroviral agents.


 Morgan Nwanguma


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