by: Tara Fuller
Enhanced waters — they’re everywhere, and according to Dr. Donald Shifrin of Pediatric Associates in Bellevue and member of the American Pediatrics Association, kids don’t know how to drink water anymore.
“We find kids don’t like to drink water because they’re not use to it” Shifrin said, adding that there’s just so many juice boxes and drinks, Kool-Aid and POG to name a few — and “they’re all sugar.”
Bottled water enhanced with vitamins, herbs, antioxidants and fiber are responsible for 30 percent of beverage sales last year, according to Nutrition Action Health letter this past June. “No wonder Coca-Cola bought VitaminWater, PepsiCo acquired SoBe and Cadbury Schweppes snapped up Snapple,” it wrote.
The problem, said Shifrin, is kids just don’t like any other drinks, so when you go to any Little League game, lacrosse, soccer, etc., “what you see is Propel, Gatorade — all the stuff filled with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) because it’s supposed to be good for you.”
Trans fats are bad, and because labels are now required to list them, just about everybody knows they are not good for you. But because HFCS hasn’t received the same notoriety, people are still confused about it — some may hear the word corn and actually think it’s natural or even good for you.
But according to health professionals such as nutritionist and college professor Jean McCurry, “It’s nasty stuff.”
The problem with HFCS, she said, is that unlike glucose (sugar) which is broken down by the entire body’s cells for energy, HFCS is only broken down by the liver. So in addition to sugar spikes that are shown to be linked with diabetes II, the largest organ in the body is required to work harder than it should — aging an organ that is vital for life.
Some drinks such as VitaminWater now uses an ingredient called crystalline fructose to replace HFCS. But don’t be fooled, McCurry added. Crystalline fructose contains near 99 percent fructose compared to only 50 to 80 percent in HFCS—making your liver work even harder.
Shifrin said if you’re thinking you’re doing your body any good by drinking water enhanced with vitamins, think again, because it has at most only 25 percent of your RDA and is essentially “the same as spraying your cereal with vitamins.”
“It’s basically flavored water,” said Shifrin. He suggested that those who want flavored water should mix water with cranberry or orange juice because it’s much healthier.
Another ingredient parents should keep an eye out for, said Shifrin, is guarana.
Guarana is advertised as a natural source of caffeine as well as having health benefits. But throughout the U.S. it has been linked with reports of nausea, abnormal heart rhythms and ADHD, according to health professionals.
Although makers of drinks enhanced with guarana argue that a serving of their drinks is no more harmful than a cup of coffee, the problem is these drinks are bottled with a lot more than single-serving size.
In addition to larger-than-life bottle sizes, they are typically consumed cold which may increase serving consumption — so for all those nighttime gym goers who can’t seem to go to sleep at night, you might want to check out your water label — you just might being juiced-up on sugar, HFCS and guarana.