The problem with apple juice

An apple a day - but not the drinking way!

Judging by the popularity of apple juice in the supermarket aisle, many parents mistakenly believe apple juice is ideal for children. Not so! Apple juice is one of the two fruit juices known to cause childhood diarrhoea which is one reason why a child may fail to thrive*.

Nutritionist, Leanne Cooper says parents should find alternatives to apple juice, particularly during hot summer months when it's so important to keep children well hydrated.

Get the real juice
1. It takes about four pieces of fruit to make one glass of juice. So it isn't surprising that even a small juice can make your child feel full and less inclined to eat a meal.
2. Too much milk and juice will displace food, and can lead to nutrient imbalances.
3. Too much apple and pear juice can lead to severe diarrhoea.
4. Some juices can contribute to dental decay and childhood obesity.

The core of the problem
One major concern with young children drinking too much fruit juice is the risk of diarrhoea. The main sugar in fruit is fructose along with lesser amounts of glucose and sorbitol. Leanne says without boring us with the chemistry, the short story is that apple and pear juices tend to cause malabsorption in the intestinal canal, which causes diarrohea and a loss of both nutrients from recently eaten food and fluid.

What's the alternative?
Recommendations vary, but Leanne says when looking for a safe juice for your child, choose citrus juice, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry or white grape juice as they do not contain sorbitol. This is particularly important when your little one already has a tummy upset. Orange juice is especially good because it has equal parts of glucose and fructose and no sorbitol.


How much is ok?
Leanne recommends no juice at all for babies under six months. For infants older than six months she says no more than one glass a day of diluted fruit juice (one quarter juice to water). It's worth remembering though, that your child will not be disadvantaged if you decide not to give them fruit juice at all, provided they have a diet rich in fresh fruit.

Leanne Cooper is our OHbaby! resident nutritionist and mother of two active boys. Find out more by visiting her at
*(NHMRC, 2003)


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