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March is National Nutrition Month – with lots of attention on eating more fruits and vegetables and limiting sugary drinks. But what about juice? Little kids with their juice boxes and adults with their “juicing cleanses” are good things, right? Not so much, it turns out.

Juicing, cleanses, smoothies

No research to date suggests that juicing and cleansing have any long-term effect on weight loss or other positive health outcomes. In fact, studies have shown that consuming solid foods, as opposed to liquid, makes people feel more full and satiated, leading people to eat less afterward. Smoothies can be a good option if they exclude sugary additives and are made with reasonable portions of whole vegetables and fruit, a plant-based protein powder and good fats like those in almonds, say health experts.

Mostly sugar

While whole fruit has sugar in it, it also has beneficial nutrients and importantly, fiber, which helps to slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Eating a high-fiber diet has been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Drinking 12 oz. of apple juice, however, is about the same as eating three large apples at one sitting – which most people wouldn’t do. That’s a lot of sugar hitting the bloodstream with no fiber to head it off at the pass. To burn off the calories in 12 oz. of apple juice, a 150 lb. adult must walk about 2.5 miles and a 75 lb. child about 5 miles.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no juice at all for kids age 1 and younger and a maximum of 4 oz. (½ cup) of juice per day for kids ages 1–6. Even better, experts say, is swapping out fruit juice for a piece of fruit and a glass of water. Find more information on healthy beverage choices at healthylincoln.org/beveragefacts

Walk it off

With childhood obesity reaching epidemic proportions worldwide, limiting sugary drinks like juice is a step in the right direction to keep kids from developing diabetes and other chronic diseases. Speaking of steps, taking a daily walk is one of the best ways to promote healthy weights in both kids and adults. A fun way to get in those steps and share some time with family or friends is to visit the Pioneers Park Nature Center on the third Saturday in April and May, when the park naturalist will take you on a hike to explore the center’s plant and wildlife.

For other ideas on active fun, visit LNKTVHealth.lincoln.ne.gov and check out the Get Up and Go videos.

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