Tag Archives: hydration for children

Yin and Yang of Tea

It All Starts With Camellia Sinensis

An ancient health brew, tea is a decoction of the Camellia sinensis leaves. If you’re wondering what decoctions or hot water infusions of herbs or any plant material such as flowers, fruits, roots or twigs are, then the term is “herbal tea”. This article will focus on the true Camellia sinensis teas.

Here’s a quick look at the types of tea and their caffeine content.



The Wonders of Tea

Lay your hands on health magazine today, you’d most probably end up reading an article about the health benefits of tea. People around the globe have embraced this beverage since paramount research backs up its impressive health benefits.

Polyphenols are the powerhouse in tea that contribute to taste and health. Taste of the drink through tannins and health through a class of flavonoid called catechins (EGCG, Epigallocatechin gallate-3) that counteracts reactions which cause cell damage and subsequent disease.

Tea improves blood pressure and blood vessels functioning thereby reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease. Green tea is beneficial for weight loss through increased energy expenditure, fat oxidation, and reduced calorie intake (substituting tea with soft drinks). Research highlights bone building benefits as well, by improving the formation of new bone as well as by decreasing the degradation of existing bone. Catechins and theanine in tea boost immune function.

For ages, tea has earned a spot for cognitive benefits like mental clarity and concentration. Tea was used by early monks to aid in their meditation practice as it prevented them from falling asleep. These benefits are attributed to tea components – caffeine and theanine.

Are You Reading The Tea Leaves Right?

Although tea may offer a wide array of benefits none of us has thought whether it’s the same for children. Recent Indian-based studies highlighted that caffeine consumption has been constantly growing in India especially among children and adolescents. In fact, the researchers pointed out a probability of higher caffeine intake in urban Indian adolescents compared to the worldwide data!

Interestingly, tea/coffee contributed to more than 50% of the caffeine intake while cola beverages, chocolates, and energy drinks contributed to the remaining. The most common reasons for consumption were to keep more alert and to combat drowsiness. If you have been allowing your kids to drink tea or coffee to kick-start their day, then you might want to stop this right away.

Proper sleep is quintessential during childhood and adolescence since it is a period of rapid growth and brain development. But get this – the vicious cycle of caffeine – used to disrupt sleep – leads to fatigue – caffeine is used again to counteract the fatigue. This perpetuates poor sleep patterns and heightened caffeine consumption.

Some animal research suggests that caffeine can potentiate drug addiction. Studies show moderate to high doses of caffeine (approx. 100 – 400 mg) results in increased incidence of nervousness, jitteriness, fidgetiness, and less incidence of sluggishness in children and adolescents.

In a nutshell, effects of caffeine on children and adolescents are different from those seen in adults. Excessive caffeine intake has an adverse impact on health in terms of optimal sleep, overall growth and development, and the risk for engaging in risky behaviours.

Juice Is Better Than Soda

Let’s squeeze the truth out of this juice myth.

With soda being damned for its high sugar content and ill-effects on health, juices started gaining more popularity. Well, you can’t blame people because terms like ‘100% fruit’, ‘natural’, ‘no preservatives’, ‘no added sugar’ etc were used to deceive them.

The fact is the fruit juices found on the shelves are also loaded with sugar. A small amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants do not compensate for the high sugar content and lack of fiber.

Did you know…..?

The juice after being extracted from the fruit is massively oxygenated and undergo loads of processing before they are packaged. If they claim not to add preservatives, this is thanks to tetra-packing. But then again this requires the juice to undergo pasteurization or an equivalent process to ensure it does not spoil.

As a matter of fact, a loss in flavor and colour due to processing is compensated by the addition of sugar, ‘permitted’ artificial flavours and colours.

Learn from the labels


Notice a few details:

  • Including natural fruit sugars (not only natural fruit sugars, so there is added sugar – check the ingredients!)
  • Presence of additives like – acidity regulator, stabilizer, colour and flavor
  • Natural colour 160a (i) translated to While 160(a) is carotenes, the (i) beside it is assigned to ‘Carotenes, beta-, synthetic’
  • Nature identical flavouring substances are still not natural

Bittersweet truth

Fruits contain sugar, without a doubt. However, it also contains loads of fiber. This is beneficial in two ways – fiber fills your stomach so there is no question of overeating, and second is that the fiber ensures that the sugar is gradually used by the body.

On the other hand, juices lack fiber and it’s easy to consume large amounts of these ‘liquid sugars’. Long-term consumption of large amounts of sugar, artificial flavours and colours, and preservatives definitely takes a toll on the body and directly or indirectly lead to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart problems and the like. Don’t forget caries that accompany sugar!

Now what….

If you’re thinking that the way out is to make juices at home, stop right there. Most of us still sieve the pulp out, add heaps of sugar and chug it down in the name of fresh fruit juice. We have been hardwired that juices are sweet so most of us cannot do without it.

Instead of juice, enjoy fruit whole. That way, you also get all the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals found naturally in the fruit. Then again if some of us are willing to juice the fruit, retain the pulp and leave out the sugar then go ahead. Otherwise, juices can be savoured occasionally, and you definitely can’t add a health halo to it.

How Important is Hydration for Children?

“A recent study showed that nearly 40% of school children in India suffer from recurrent bouts of constipation.”

Sounds familiar? A popular daily carried this news in the front page! How does this problem of constipation, earlier only seen in adults, get afflicted to children? If you read the news bit carefully then you would know that children slacking on water intake happened to be one of the main reasons.

Continue reading How Important is Hydration for Children?