Are Sports Drinks Good Or Bad For You

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Good Living Doc

Owner of the Good Living Warehouse, Chiropractor Extraordinaire, Nutrition Coach, Consumer Health Advocate, Writer, Science Junkie.
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sports drinks 1You’ve seen the commercials…

A top performing, highly trained, and perfectly developed athlete is on the field of competition. His muscles are burning, his body is strained, he’s dripping with sweat, but he is not tired. No, in fact, he’s just getting started…

You see, he has Gatorade, and that is the secret behind his superior performance, strength, and ultimate victory.

The makers of sports drinks everywhere would have you believe that YOU can be an athlete too, if only you drink Gatorade like all the world-famous superstars with million-dollar paychecks. Convincing you of this is the reason they pay mega-bucks for celebrity endorsements.

Powerade is also competing for your energy and hydration dollars. They were the official sports drink of the 2012 Olympic Games. This doesn’t mean that Powerade is somehow better than Gatorade, however, or that it’s more nutritious for you. It just means they were willing to pay more for the ad spots.

Are Sports Drinks Nutritious

The sports drink claim-to-fame is that they supply the body with much needed hydration, carbohydrates, and electrolytes, all of which are depleted when you work out. However, the ads make it sound as though pushing a baby stroller around the block or climbing a flight of stairs is reason enough to need something other than water.

Gatorade especially has convinced millions that water is simply not adequate for hydration, as though the human body suddenly stopped functioning as it has for tens of thousands of years and now needs extra help from modern-day engineered nutrition.

Let me make something perfectly clear…

The human body is hardwired to get hydration ONLY from natural sources like water. It has never, and will never, need additional help from Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water, Ensure, Boost, Pedialyte, PediaSure, or any other chemical formula produced in a laboratory.

Well what about electrolytes? We need sports drinks to replenish our electrolytes!

There are plenty of electrolytes in foods like celery, apples, bananas, lemons, almonds, kale, and coconut water (nature’s Gatorade). As usual, nature has provided us with everything we need to stay in perfect balance. These are foods the body understands, unlike manufactured concoctions made entirely of artificial chemicals and sugar.

Gatorade’s own website states that there is no fruit or fruit juice in any of their products. How then can sports drinks come in a variety of fruity flavors and bright colors? CHEMICALS! 

Why should you care?

These are the things in all processed foods that have been linked to cancer and other diseases. Cancer is not a mystery. It’s not just a crazy and unexplainable, random occurrence. SOMETHING has to cause it!

What The FDA Says About Sports Drinks

sports drinks 3The FDA and other organizations tell us that such chemicals are completely safe as long as they are consumed within safety guidelines, but every foreign chemical that enters the human body affects us on a cellular level regardless of whether obvious toxicity can be observed. Safety levels of any additive can easily be surpassed when ingesting dozens of processed products repeatedly.

About 10,000 different chemicals are allowed by the FDA as food additives. 3000 of them HAVE NEVER BEEN REVIEWED FOR SAFETY by any federal agency.

Many of these chemicals are never even brought before the FDA until there is a suspected problem. They are simply declared safe without any evidence to deem them as such.

Brominated Vegetable Oil is one such additive used in sports drinks that has been banned in Europe and Japan, and an enthusiastic campaign is also underway to ban it in Canada. This chemical has been a topic of controversy in the US for years, but no effort has been made by any agency to eliminate it from our food.

**EDIT: PepsiCo announced in late January that it would be removing BVO from its Gatorade products. This is proof positive that food companies are beginning to listen to public outcry regarding chemicals in our food. What will come of this, and what they will replace it with, remains to be seen, but it is a small win for consumers. We will be keeping an eye out for further developments in this story.

The exact chemical composition of BVO is not readily available, but it does contain bromide (which is used in flame retardants), and has been shown to cause terrible side-effects like neurological disorders, reduced fertility, and altered thyroid function. Studies have also shown that BVO accumulates in breast milk and causes heart lesions in animals!

Feel protected? Me either.

Will Sports Drinks Make You Fat?

The fact is that engineered nutrition makes us fat and keeps us that way.

A report from the University of California at Berkeley states that people who drink a 20 ounce sports drink every day for a year stand to gain an average of 13 pounds. This is not surprising when the ingredients are mainly water, high fructose corn syrup, and salt.

This is where many people trying to lose weight unknowingly sabotage themselves. Low calorie diet foods and drinks are often filled with sugars that cause insulin levels to spike. This insulin spike leads to weight gain and an inability to burn fat as energy.

Aside from that, the “energy” sports drinks are supposed to give you are short-lived. High fructose corn syrup, sucralose, and other simple sugars will give you a quick burst of energy, but that high will be followed by an equally powerful low. The crash results from the body’s attempt to regain balance after blood levels and organ function are artificially changed. This will only serve to diminish energy and overall performance.

Pure water is a far better alternative.

Nature’s Gatorade – Coconut Water

sports drinks 2Coconut water has been shown to be not only a great means for rehydrating, but also for replenishing electrolytes as it contains naturally occurring potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Coconut water has also shown remarkable health benefits because it (is):

  • Contains cytokinins (anti-aging)
  • Balances blood sugar and insulin
  • Boosts immunity
  • Has anti-cancer properties
  • Aids kidney function
  • A natural anti-inflammatory
  • Rich in digestive enzymes
  • Helps prevent osteoporosis
  • Good for the skin and eyes
  • Protects and enhances heart function

And the list goes on.

Coconut water is the ONLY “sports drink” I recommend.

Coconut water is one of nature’s perfect foods, but (as always) has to be consumed in its pure, unprocessed state. Drinking it directly from the coconut is best. These will be found in the refrigerated produce section of many supermarkets. They will be white, smooth, pointed on one end, and flat on the other, because they are harvested before the coconut has matured.

A bottled form is a good alternative as long as it’s unprocessed and not from concentrate. We drink this one.

So drop the toxic sports drink and get some plain ol’ refreshing water instead, or give nature’s Gatorade a try for the added health benefits.

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