El buen hábito del agua

Cuando los chicos tienen sed, no suelen tomar agua pura, sino una gran variedad de bebidas elaboradas industrialmente, con gas y aditivos.

Estos refrescos pueden generar graves trastornos en la salud, especialmente la de los más pequeños. Tanto para los chicos como para los grandes, cuando uno tiene sed, lo mejor de todo sigue siendo tomar agua.

Si le preguntan a los chicos (y a los grandes) qué toman para saciar la sed, la respuesta en la gran mayoría de los casos preocupa: no toman agua pura. En el mercado existe una inmensa variedad de bebidas elaboradas industrialmente a partir de frutas, hortalizas, hierbas, semillas y otros componentes vegetales. Muchas son gasificadas, o a base de jugos, pulpas y jugos concentrados; también suelen utilizarse jarabes, polvos y granulados efervescentes para preparar con agua, así como infusiones y extractos.
Muchas madres les ofrecen a sus hijos este tipo de bebidas pensando que son útiles y beneficiosas para la salud porque contienen algunas vitaminas, minerales y azúcares, o simplemente porque los reconforta observar el entusiasmo que manifiestan sus hijos al tomarlas.
Sin embargo, el consumo en exceso de bebidas de elaboración industrial -más de 350 ml por día (tres vasos)- se puede convertir en una fuente de trastornos para la salud de los niños. Por los distintos ingredientes que contienen, especialmente azúcar, colorantes y conservantes, tomar habitualmente esas bebidas pueden ocasionar en los chicos:

  • Mayor riesgo de sufrir caries y erosión dental
  • Trastornos nutricionales como la obesidad o el bajo peso
  • Alteración en el crecimiento de la talla (menor estatura a la determinada por su potencial genético)
  • Diarrea
  • Dolores abdominales
  • Gastritis
  • Trastornos en la absorción de calcio
  • Disminución del calcio en la sangre, llegando en algunos casos extremos en lactantes a convulsiones
  • Irritabilidad y trastornos de la conducta e insomnio
  • Urticarias y otras alergias
  • Pérdidas de materia fecal

El consumo en exceso también puede perturbar hábitos saludables, y ocasiona desórdenes en el apetito a la hora de comer: las calorías que contienen esas bebidas interfieren en el natural ciclo hambre-comida-saciedad. En el caso de los lactantes, además, puede generar rechazo o disminución de la ingesta necesaria de leche, porque el chico la quiere reemplazar por estos refrescos.
Las bebidas de elaboración industrial suelen contener una variedad de aditivos (colorantes, acidulantes, edulcorantes, reguladores y neutralizantes de la acidez, aromatizantes, conservantes, espesantes, antioxidantes, estabilizantes, etc.) que, si bien están legalmente permitidos, su ingesta no se recomienda en los niños pequeños.
Por eso, es importante reflexionar un poco sobre los hábitos que les inculcamos a nuestros hijos y empezar a cambiar lo dulce por lo sano. Porque, si un niño sano rechaza tomar agua pura, simplemente es porque no tiene sed.
En este sentido, los niños dicen que tomar agua no les gusta cuando tienen la opción de tomar otras bebidas dulces de elaboración industrial. Es que ellos conocen estas bebidas y las piden desde muy pequeños porque los adultos se las ofrecen o los inducen a tomarlas. También por imitación de su entorno familiar o por presión publicitaria y social.
Estas bebidas suelen ser ricas en energía, pero pobres en otros nutrientes esenciales. Los azúcares que contienen se consideran calorías vacías y desplazan la ingesta de alimentos con nutrientes de mejor calidad e imprescindibles para su crecimiento y desarrollo madurativo. Por su parte, las dietéticas pueden no tener azúcares en cantidades relevantes pero con otras sustancias mantienen el hábito de consumo de bebidas industriales.
Los niños, sobre todo los más chicos, tienen una predilección especial por las bebidas dulces, pero ignoran los riesgos de su consumo excesivo. Por eso, los adultos debemos estar informados sobre estos potenciales trastornos y limitar su ingesta a no más de 120 ml por día (un vaso); y no es aconsejable ofrecerlas a lactantes y menores de 1 año.
Entonces, cuando tu nene tenga sed (y no sólo ganas de tomar “algo”) ofrecéle agua. Vas a ver que, aunque esté habituado a las bebidas azucaradas, de a poco lograrás acostumbrarlo a beber agua fresca.
Reforzar y sostener el hábito de beber agua para saciar la sed en los primeros años de vida es una muy buena costumbre para tus hijos. Poner en práctica estas recomendaciones además favorecerá la adquisición de buenos hábitos alimentarios, con grandes beneficios en la salud y en la economía familiar.

Agradecemos a la Sociedad Argentina de Pediatría por la información brindada

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