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Sip Smart for Good Health

November 14, 2019 Posted in: Wellness

Sugary, caffeine-laden drinks are all around us – on TV screens, internet ads and even in some celebrities’ hands. What’s more, these drinks are increasingly marketed to adults and kids alike. How much is too much when it comes to the caffeine and sugar found in colas, energy drinks and other beverages? 

This guide offers the nitty-gritty on these drinks to help you decide for your self – and your kids – when to indulge and which beverages to leave on the grocery store shelves. 

The Caffeine Question 

Caffeine can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Kids who consume too much caffeine can become agitated, nervous or irritable. And the same goes for adults. It may also cause headaches and interfere with sleep – and too little sleep can negatively affect our ability to concentrate and perform essential tasks at work and school.  

Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day is considered safe for adults. The actual amount of caffeine content in beverages varies widely, but 400 mgs is roughly equal to four cups of coffee or 10 cans of soda.  

An 8-ounce soda contains about 24 mg of caffeine. Energy drinks, however, often pack more caffeine than sodas. For instance, one of the most popular energy drinks on the market contains 77 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce serving. The exact amount of caffeine is also missing from nutrition labels on some energy drinks, leaving you guessing about the true caffeine content. 

Like soda, there are no nutritional benefits to energy drinks. Research is inconclusive on the additives in these drinks, such as guarana. We don’t really know how these substances affect development – or how specific individuals might react to them. 

Sugar High 

Sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks can be tempting, no matter your age. But the high sugar content can contribute to obesity, and citric acid in some sports and energy drinks, and even excessive fruit juice intake, can lead to early dental decay.   

It’s recommended that people limit their added sugars (meaning sugars that aren’t found naturally in fruits and vegetables) to less than 10 percent of their daily calorie intake if you’re eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s 50 grams or about 12.5 teaspoons of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends stricter guidelines: No more than 150 calories (9 teaspoons) a day for men and no more than 100 calories (6 teaspoons) a day for women. Kids need even less. 

That’s why it’s best to limit your intake of soda, energy and sports drinks – no matter your age. The best options are always water and low-fat milk. Juice should be 100 percent and limited to 4 ounces per day for kids younger than age 6 and 8 ounces per day for older children. 

When you reach for water instead of a soda, it sends the right message to your kids that making smarter choices will lead to a longer, happier and healthier life! 

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