With hundreds of thousands of learners back at school, parents are reminded to restock their fridges and pantries with foods and beverages that provide brain-boosting nutrients to help their children perform at their best. SA’s recently released National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (SANHANES) refers to the poor state of children’s school lunches in this country.
Of particular concern is the high intake of sugary cool drinks – about 2 in 3 learners buy sugary drinks at least twice a week, with each soft drink containing up to 14 teaspoons of sugar. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) that is 40g more sugar than the recommended maximum daily limit for children. Drinking too many sugary drinks is considered to be the leading cause of obesity in adolescents, especially among schoolboys.
The study points out that the prevalence of obesity has doubled in teenage boys in the past six years, making them more prone to chronic lifestyle diseases such as diabetes. According to nutritional experts, these beverages are loaded with empty calories and provide little or no essential nutrients. They are linked not only to weight gain but also to poor health and tooth decay in children. The experts recommend water or herbal teas as a healthier alternative to fizzy drinks or sugar-filled fruit juices, with Rooibos tea topping the list.
Ernest du Toit, previous spokesperson of the SA Rooibos Council says Rooibos is as effective as water for hydrating the body and has additional health properties that water doesn’t have. “Rooibos is affordable, tasty and amazingly beneficial for children. It is rich in antioxidants which helps to protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals and can 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. “Added to this, Rooibos contains no caffeine, fats or carbohydrates, is a natural immune-booster and relieves allergy symptoms, which are common in children,” remarks du Toit. Sugary drinks have also been found to have an adverse effect on children’s brains.
A study conducted by the University of California revealed that consuming excessive quantities of sugar-sweetened drinks can have a major impact on children’s brain function and impair their ability to concentrate and learn at school. In contrast, Rooibos tea will keep your child’s mind sharp since it shields the brain from stress and it protects against a process known as lipid peridoxation (where free radicals damage brain cells and nerve tissues.) Du Toit adds that Rooibos is also incredibly nutrient-rich. “It is rich in Vitamin C, calcium, manganese and fluoride, helps to build strong bones and teeth, and is safe to consume without limit.”