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Developing the habit of consuming healthy beverages in your teenager can be a major struggle. With the energy drink market alone weighing in as an almost five billion dollar a year business, teen-directed advertising can make the voice of reason sound weak. Coupled with the peer-pressure tactics of the soft drink industry, this one-two punch can make it difficult to get your teen to realize that healthy beverage consumption at their critical age of development can serve them well for a lifetime.
To avoid a high sugar intake, milk is always a good beverage choice for a teenager. It should be noted though that while the nutrition requirements of children are best served by whole milk, a teenager will do better drinking skim milk as the calorie intake is only half that of whole milk. As an extremely healthy option, soy and rice milk are not only lactose free but complement a vegetarian lifestyle and low calorie intake diets.
Fruit juices can be healthy beverage options for your teen but care must be taken that they are the correctly prepared juices. Unsweetened juice has its own natural fruit sugars which are healthy but come across the taste buds as a bit tart for those accustomed to sugar added products. Also, be aware that few fruit juice drinks are pure juice. The vast majority of the bottled juices on the market are laden with high fructose corn syrup which is the same filler substance used in soft drinks. This particular type of processed corn syrup is difficult for the body to digest and can lead to water retention and the same infamous "pop belly bloat" as one gets with soda consumption.
Some favorite pure juices include apple and orange juice for vitamin C and cranberry juice for the valuable antioxidant content. Lemonade can be a good beverage choice for your teen as well so long as the sweetener is used in moderation.
Of the non-naturally occurring drinks on the market, Gatorade is designed to be a complimentary supplement to good nutrition. There are a number of flavors to choose from and the sweeteners are, for the most part, all naturally occurring substances. Gatorade also aids in the balancing of electrolytes and other trace mineral replenishments, especially in an active lifestyle and during exercise.
For the teenager who has already become accustomed to caffeine in their beverages, it is best to work toward getting them to drink tea instead of caffeinated soda or coffee. Tea, while still containing less caffeine than any of the other of these options, still provided the boost without risking overdosing as can happen with too much coffee. This is especially possible with the highly caffeinated energy drinks which often lead to caffeine toxication if more than one or two a day are consumed. Tea also offers the benefit of being one of the best antioxidant beverages available.
Finally, helping your teen discover the many benefits of water in a healthy life can help prevent dehydration from excessive sugar consumption and will provide a medium for the best possible transfer of minerals and nutrients throughout the body. If at all possible though, avoid chlorinated tap water and keep some lemon or lime juice around to provide a dash of extra flavor to help your teen develop the healthiest possible beverage drinking habits.