The nutrition a child receives as he or she grows from infancy into his or her teenage years has a major impact on health and mental attitudes about food. Their needs are also drastically different than what adults require, but statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that ignorance concerning the nutritional needs of children is causing cases of childhood obesity to skyrocket. One factor in this increase may be attributed to sugar consumption; processed sugar can have a negative impact on the health of your kids in a number of ways, both now and in the future.
1. A Weakened Immune System
The consumption of too much sugar can cause your children to develop signs of a cold or allergies much more often than usual. This is because eating too much sugar can upset the balance of good and bad bacteria in the body and cause inflammation, which in turn causes physical symptoms such as a cough, consistent congestion, and headaches. Reducing sugar intake may allow your children’s immune systems to recover and regain a proper balance.
While it was long believed that too much sugar causes hyperactivity in kids, recent studies are revealing this may not be true. However, too much sugar still might affect their behavior, especially when it comes to getting their fix. Eating too much sugar causes the body to produce insulin, which absorbs the sugar so the body can use it for energy. However, when the sugar is absorbed too rapidly, it can cause a drop in blood sugar, leading to lethargy and irritability in your kids.
This effect can also have another negative consequence in an important area: that of your children’s education. Blood sugar crashes that occur from eating a lunch high in sugar can cause them to want to nap when they should be learning, and low blood sugar levels may also lead to poor concentration in class as well. To avoid this, pack your children’s lunches with high-protein foods such as real turkey breast and plain yogurt with real berries. Avoid sugary drinks as well and encourage your kids to drink water during the day instead.
3. Rapid Weight Gain
If your children binge on sugary cereals, cookies, cupcakes, and soda, they are at risk for developing an expanding waistline that could persist throughout their adult years and cause a number of health problems, from heart disease to type 2 diabetes. Eating too much sugar packs on the pounds, particularly around the stomach, which may cause a pot belly. Not only is this unhealthy, but overweight children often become the object of ridicule and bullying, which can result in mental and emotional problems.
There are several ways you can cut back on your child’s sugar intake if you are concerned about their weight. For example, find alternatives to using white sugar when you bake or cook, such as replacing processed cookie dough with Hampton Creek Just Cookie Dough, which is lower in sugar and made with all-natural ingredients. This will help you control how much sugar your kids eat without having to cut out treats completely.
4. Acid Reflux
While acid reflux used to be an adult’s health issue, it is now being seen more often in children who eat too much sugar. This usually occurs when kids drink a lot of milk during the day, especially sweetened or flavored milk, which contains added sugar. This can cause digestion issues that prompt the body to make additional acid, which then backs up into the esophagus. If your kids are restless at night, develop a nighttime cough, or complain of heartburn symptoms, it might be time to cut back on the amount of milk and other sweetened dairy products they consume.
5. Oral Decay
While you might already know that eating too much sugar can cause tooth decay, it can also create other oral problems as well. When kids are lax in brushing or flossing, this can cause sugar to build up and create plaque, which affects the gums as well as the teeth. In addition, too much sugar can cause an imbalance in the pH of a child’s mouth, which may lead to gingivitis. Reducing sugar consumption, as well as monitoring your children’s brushing habits, can help prevent oral disease.
Cutting back on the amount of sugar your children may prevent disease, improve their cognitive functions, and improve their overall health. Remember to consult a pediatrician for advice on how to create a low-sugar nutrition plan that suits your children’s individual needs.