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Fruit juices are kids’ favourites indeed! We think fruit juice is a natural, healthy drink that can contribute to the recommended serves of 2 fruits per day. However, nutritionally speaking it doesn’t come close to the nutritional value of eating fresh, whole fruit. Forget the gains, it may make you lose vital fluid and electrolytes from the body. Surprised? Yes, too much fruit juice can trigger diarrhoea in children.
Diarrhoea is characterised as having frequent bowel movements that may be loose or watery in nature. Your child may experience abdominal cramps or belly pain. It is usually caused by bacterial or viral infections, parasites, bowel disorders, medication reaction and sensitivities or allergies to foods. Of the several reasons, consumption of excess fruit juice is assuming significant importance. Thanks to the abundance of the so-called fresh, 100% natural fruit juices on the shelves!
Fruit juice can cause diarrhoea because of these reasons:
1. High Sorbitol Content
Many juices contain sorbitol, a non-digestible form of sugar. Excess sorbitol levels cause the body to try to dilute the sugar by pulling water from the bloodstream into the intestine, which causes loose stools. Prunes are rich in sorbitol, and apple, pear, peach, and cherry juice are also fairly high in sorbitol. Cutting back on fruit juice and sugary drinks should solve the problem in a week or so.
Instead: You may try one of the low sorbitol fruits, such as pineapples, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, bananas, etc. Also, try and serve them as whole or cut fruits instead of pulp or juice form (according to age of your child). Consider the following tips to get your children to eat fruits.
2. High Fructose (fruit sugar) Levels
The diarrhoea-causing factor in fruits can also be the fruit sugar- fructose. While most people can eat fructose without difficulty, some others develop diarrhoea, gas and bloating when they consume the sugar. Many people, especially children, have a limit on the amount of fructose and sorbitol they can absorb.
Instead: Try one of the low fructose fruits like berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.), citrus fruits (oranges, limes, etc.), grapefruit, avocado, etc.
3. Allergic Response To The Fruit
Your kid may be allergic or intolerant to the fruit ingested. Diarrhoea can be one bodily reaction for the same. Orange juice can cause such an allergic response in young children.
Take due precaution: If you are trying any fruit for your child for the first time, it is best to consult the paediatrician, and take into account your and your partner’s family history with respect to food allergies.
4. Presence of Harmful Bacteria
In some circumstances, fresh juices that have not been pasteurised can become infected with harmful bacteria that can make your child sick, causing gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhoea. Hence, it is advisable to always get pasteurised juices.
Take due precaution: Make sure you thoroughly wash the fruits you buy before consumption. Bacterial and germ build-up will be more probable in stored juices, so always insist on freshly made fruit juices, and better still – homemade fruit juices. Never let fruit juice stand on the counter or in the fridge before consuming it.
Other Side Effects of Excess Fruit Juice
- Ruins kids’ appetite for healthier foods – Juice fills up the stomach so that the child doesn’t feel hungry and won’t eat. And with the notorious picky eaters that most of us have, we can imagine the problem scaling up heights!
- Causes tooth decay because of high sugar levels.
- Causes regurgitation – Acidic fruit juices if had in a hurry by your pre-schooler and followed by any rigorous physical activity (like they generally do), may result in vomiting.
Even as treatment for diarrhoea, NEVER administer sweetened fluids like fizzy drinks, athletic drinks, sugar water, and undiluted fruit juices. All of these contain sugar, which draws water into the intestine and makes the diarrhoea worse. Boiled and cooled water or ORS solution are recommended by experts for replenishing the lost fluids and electrolytes.
Juice is also not recommended for babies younger than 12 months. If your child’s age is 12 months or older, limit the fruit juice intake to 3/4 cup (6 ounces) of juice per day. Older children (age 7 and older) can have up to 8 to 12 ounces of fruit juice a day. For your pre-schooler, water is the best fluid, followed by low-fat milk. Fruit juices, if provided, should not exceed 200 ml per day.
What About Daily Vitamins and Minerals?
Hence, for the daily dose of vital vitamins and minerals, fibre and the required calories, without increasing the risk of diarrhoea, eat whole fruits rather than drinking juices. If your child likes fruit juice a lot, make sure that it’s well diluted with water and only drunk at mealtimes, and not before.
Does your preschooler enjoy fruit juice? What is his favourite fluid in case you restrict him from juices? Let us know in the comments section below.