Find substitutes for sugary drinks

By Drum Digital
22 January 2016

By Vida Li-Sik 

It is time to rethink what we allow our children to drink at school and make sure they consume brain-boosting nutrients that allow them to perform at their best.

The hot weather Mzansi is experiencing makes it important our children stay hydrated.

Water tops the list as the best drink to consume, and although it will be hard, it is important to discourage learners from consuming fizzy drinks, which is still their preferred beverage.

Why? SA’s recently released National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (SANHANES) shows that two in three learners buy sugary drinks at least twice a week. Each soft drink contains up to 55 g of sugar – 40 g more than the recommended maximum daily limit for children - according to the World Health Organization.

Drinking too many sugary drinks is the leading cause of obesity in adolescents, especially among schoolboys. Obesity in teenage boys makes them more prone to chronic lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. Tooth decay is also an extra worry.

It is not easy to persuade your children to reduce or cut out sugary drinks.

Nutritionists recommend water or herbal teas as a healthier alternative, with Rooibos tea topping the list.

Rooibos is as effective as water for hydrating the body and has additional health properties that water doesn’t have, says Ernest du Toit, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council.

“Rooibos is affordable, tasty and rich in antioxidants which help to protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals. It can also reduce the risk of a variety of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Rooibos also prevents DNA damage, inflammation and is helpful in combating diabetes.

An added bonus is that Rooibos contains no caffeine, fats or carbohydrates, is a natural immune-booster and relieves allergy symptoms, which are common in children, he adds.

The SA Rooibos Council offers the following Rooibos iced tea- and Popsicle recipes:

Rooibos iced tea:

- One litre of Rooibos tea using four to six teabags.

- Sweeten the tea with honey and leave it in the fridge to cool overnight.

- Experiment with this basic iced tea, by adding mint, lemon, orange, granadilla, mango or apple, or a combination of flavours until you find one your children love. You can even get them involved in mixing their own flavours.

Note: Juiced or squeezed fresh fruit usually delivers the best results, but you can also use preservative-free fruit juice. Mixing it with cold Rooibos will make it go further and keeping a jug of it in the fridge should mean you don’t have to keep buying juice. The good news is that cold rooibos can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks without spoiling.

Rooibos ice-lollies:

- Pour some Rooibos iced tea into Popsicle containers or ice-cube trays and freeze it to use as a refreshing and healthy after school or sports treats.

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