Parents are inundated with information and promotional information about what to feed their kids. Similarly, kids are dazzled with imagery of high sugar drinks and products that can been damaging to their health in large quantities. Coca-cola, for example, is only just removing brominated vegetable oil from their products – an additive that is also found in flame retardants. The substance was dropped from the US Food and Drug Administration’s “Generally Recognized as Safe” list of food ingredients in 1970, by the way.
In today’s technologically advanced society, it can be easy to forget the variety of uses of earth’s most freely occurring natural produce – water. To a child, water is boring – it has no taste or color. It is important that parents teach their children the importance of drinking water and to ensure that they are drinking enough each day.
The body is composed of 60% water – and most of this comes from the food we consume. The rest will come from drinking.
There are many benefits of keeping the body hydrated, of course:
Maintains and regulates bodily systems. Nearly every bodily system is regulated by water. Water repairs the cells of the body, it maintains the muscles, preserves the health of the skin. In addition, water helps the kidneys remove toxins from the body and facilitates bowel movements. Water is simply the fuel that makes the body go. It is always important to enforce this fact upon your children so they are aware of the benefits and the good that comes with every drink.
Calorie free. With obesity on the rise in children across the US and Europe, water offers a calorie-free alternative to staying hydrated. An Australian study observed that children between the age of 4 and 12 who drank 500 ml or more of fruit juice were twice as likely to become overweight and obese. Since water is basically calorie-free, you gain all the benefits, but none of the problems!
Healthy for bones and teeth. Juice, soda, energy drinks and flavored mineral water all include sugar that can lead to tooth decay, particularly in excessive quantities. In addition, the fluoride in tap water strengthens teeth and bones.
It is cheap and available. Water is a free natural resource – you are always saving money when opting for water instead of another beverage.
These are the benefits, but how much water should your child be getting?
- 5-8 years olds – 5 glasses (1 litre)
- 9-12 year olds – 7 glasses (1.5 litres)
- 13+ year olds – 8 to 10 glasses (2 litres)
There are a number of ways to get your child drinking more water:
- Make it available. Whenever your kids come home from school, do their homework, watch TV, and beside their bed when they sleep. Offer them a glass of water for easy access.
- Add ice or a lemon slice to the water to make their regular cup of water more interesting. Be careful with other additives, however.
- Equip your child with a water bottle, for sports and general use throughout the school day. For younger children, if you can get a water bottle decorated with a favorite character – whether from a television show, toys or movie – this can work wonders to keep children interested in drinking water.
- Teach children how to pour their own cup, giving them independence and free access to water whenever they want. Put their bottle in the bottom of the refrigerator for easy access.
- In the summer, put a frozen water bottle in your child’s lunch box. Over the course of the day, it will melt and serve as an ice cold refreshment for later on.
These are just a couple of ways to ensure your child is drinking plenty of water. The best way to approach it is to consider its accessibility and perhaps getting slightly creative with how you present it to your child. Take efforts to stick in reminders about the benefits of water on your child’s body.
Harvey Bowden is managing director of Harvey Water Softeners and is an expert on water quality in the home. Check out his consumer’s guide to softened water here.
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