There is a constant struggle in my house – since the kids are in competitive sports they demand Gatorade and other sports drinks, because “all the other kids drink it”. These drinks are marketed towards people who are active so my kids believe that it is a requirement to have sports drinks to get to their peak performance.
I agree that these sports drinks provide the electrolytes to replenish our bodies but unfortunately they have more than electrolytes in them.
Gatorade and other sports drinks are made up of mostly chemically treated & refined sugar (as much as a typical soda), artificial colors, and other ingredients that are really harmful to your body.
Artificial colors like Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens. They are also known to cause hyperactivity in the kids. The sad part is that they are found in most foods targeted towards kids like cereals, candy, drinks etc. It is very important to read the labels and avoid all foods that contain these food dyes.
Also, some flavors of Gatorade use brominated vegetable oil as a stabilizer. Brominated vegetable oil has been linked to some serious diseases like thyroid problems, fertility issues, and psychological symptoms. It also has been linked to certain types of cancer, and increased risk of diabetes and obesity.
According to a research done by Berkeley researchers, sugar in sports drinks may be contributing to the child obesity epidemic. When consumed often, the sugar content of Gatorade can also contribute to tooth decay, especially in children.
Healthy Alternative to Sports Drinks:
Water: Water is the most underrated drinks but it is one of the most natural, most powerful sources of hydration. Help your kids develop a habit of drinking water during their sports practice and games. Even if the day is hot and humid, water can provide sufficient rehydration, especially if exercise lasts less than an hour
Coconut Water: Coconut water contains all 5 essential electrolytes. Minerals such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur and manganese are all available in coconut water. These minerals re-hydrate and create balance in the body.
Watermelon juice: Watermelon is the most popular summer fruit. Watermelon juice is rich in electrolytes and is very helpful for maintaining fluid balance; it also improves circulation and aids in muscle recovery after a physical exercise session.
Chocolate Milk: According to one study, Chocolate milk rehydrates your body as much as a sports drink, but it also offers a boost of protein, which helps your muscles repair after intense exercise. The sugar and sodium in chocolate milk also supply you with electrolytes, which helps you recover and rehydrate more quickly. You can easily make chocolate milk at home by combining cocoa powder, maple syrup or cane sugar to organic milk of your choice.
Make your own Sports drink: It is very easy to make a sports drink which will provide you the right balance of electrolytes without the nasty and harmful ingredients. Take 1 cup of coconut or regular water; add a cup of orange/apple juice. Squeeze half a lemon and add ¼ teaspoon of salt. Add 1 tsp of honey. Mix well and store it in the fridge. Kids can enjoy this drink anytime during hot summer days.
There might be a market for these sports drinks for some heavy duty athletes but I believe it is best to avoid them for our kids. Do you have any other healthy alternatives to the sports drinks that worked for your kids?