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  • Water versus Pop!

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    Water versus Pop!

    Why staying hydrated is better than going off with a bang!

    Picture the scene…

    A sweltering hot day in the height of summer. The kids have been enjoying the sunshine all day, in and out of the paddling pool. You have friends round and life is good.

    But you are aware of so many things; you keep slathering the kids in sun cream – as they’re squirming and attempting to break free from your iron grip, you slap on layer after layer of factor 50. You try and limit the number of sugary drinks that they consume – ‘their teeth!’ – but bowing to pressure and the inevitable ‘let them be kids’ argument, you reluctantly allow them to consume whatever they wish.

    But there is a problem.

    You are left dealing with the tantrums before bed, the bad moods, the snappy child and the ‘hyperactive’ one. You put it down to excitement but there is something else niggling at the back of your mind…

    Yup, you know the answer! The sugar and the colourings in juices and fizzy drinks can all contribute to how children behave. A sudden sugar ‘overdose’ can make children behave in a very different way and trying to manage or control this behaviour suddenly becomes a parent’s worst nightmare.

    Fighting your way OUT of the nightmare, never to return.

    In the UK, we drink 6 million litres of fizzy drinks every year. That is enough fizzy stuff to fill half an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

    With so much hype from one end of the scale to another, it can be tough knowing which is right. Are fizzy drinks the sweet poison that we are led to believe? Is water the only answer?

    Research and studies

    As you would imagine, the academic world is awash with studies and research carried out across the globe, documenting the effects of soft drinks on children, their health and behaviour. As much as detractors will have us believe that sodas or fizzy drinks are OK to drink, the plethora of studies suggest otherwise.

    You may recognise your own kids’ behaviour in this, or your own…

    Do fizzy drinks make us cross and angry?

    Tough question to answer BUT some studies suggest there IS a direct link between drinking soft drinks high in sugar and a host of other ingredients, and how we behave. One American study of 5-year-olds showed that there were cases of increased aggression, along with difficulty concentrating, when these children drank fizzy drinks.

    And the likely culprit is…?

    Caffeine. In many of the sugary, fizzy drinks that we and our children consume is the ingredient caffeine. Best known for being in coffee and tea – and we’ve all said at some point or another that we ‘simply cannot function without our morning coffee’ – caffeine is derived from a plant source.

    Found in 60 plants, such as the cocoa plant, it is used in drinks and food, as well as in medication. It is used to relieve drowsiness and enhance the effects of painkillers.

    A staggering fact is that 90% of us will have a life filled with caffeine, whether we know it or not, and regardless of whether or not we choose to consume it.

    Messes with the hormones

    We all have hormones and in children, hormone levels are not always stable or harmonious. This is part of growing up. A surge in one hormone triggers the changes needed for the body and brain to grow, from the magic switch that tells the voice to break, to a young girl starting menstruation.

    Caffeine interferes with these hormones, in particular the hormone and chemical in the brain that enables us to perceive risk.

    In other words, we become unable to make a clear enough judgement and thus, when in a situation where we feel under threat, we become aggressive in order to protect ourselves rather than seeing the other options. There are amazing and in-depths studies of caffeine that show how it affects our bodies and judgement.

    The fact that it is added to so many foods and drinks is also, at last, beginning to cause concern.

    Going off pop!

    So it is no wonder that children and adults who consume large amounts of ‘fizzy pop’ can, occasionally, go off pop themselves.

    The solution to staying hydrated is water. Straight from the tap, with lumps of ice and maybe a slice of lemon, lime or some strawberries, it’s the best cocktail we can ask for. Make it fun for kids too – part of life as the drink of choice automatically served at mealtimes – and water will soon become the drink that everyone talks about.