The Dangers Of Sport Drinks
Advertisers devote a lot of money toward campaigns to convince athletes, exercise enthusiasts, and even children that sports drinks are a healthy way to replenish the body’s electrolytes naturally lost during sweating. While it’s certainly important to rehydrate, sadly there are many negative health implications and myths associated with popular sports drinks.
One common myth is that sport drinks replenish glycogen stores. This often leads to the question, “If I don’t drink sports drinks, how can I replace the glycogen stores in my muscles?”
It is important to replace glycogen if you are doing a training session but most people are not working out at a level that requires the amount of sugar found in a sports drink! For athletes, I do not believe you should replace your glycogen stores with refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup. There are other options that will work better such as mixture of coconut water, honey or maple syrup (which have other nutrients other than glucose), natural (gray or pink) sea salt and lemon or grape juice.
It is important to note that exercise naturally causes free radical damage. This does not mean you should give up exercise but it is important to feed the body anti-oxidants and other micronutrients post workout to regenerate cells.
Carbohydrate loading to ensure good glycogen storage (and protein, the another macro-nutrient some athletes focus on) is only one part of the picture.
Here is the low-down on some of the ingredients in these toxic chemical cocktails:
It takes a lot of work for your body to convert the sweeteners in sports drinks into the glycogen your muscles require after a heavy workout. In order for the body to process refined sugar, it must rob itself of key nutrients such as B vitamins, zinc and manganese to complete the process. If the body is lacking enough of these key nutrients, which it often is if we consume a diet of highly-processed convenience foods, over time the insulin sensitivity receptors on the cell are reduced and inhibited. This causes sugar to remain in the bloodstream creating advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which are substances that damage tissues in the arteries, eyes, skin, and joints (1), and have been proven to play a causal role in the complications associated cancer in patients with Type ll diabetes (2). Among other things, sugar has also been proven to be incredibly addictive (3).
In addition to being used as a food preservative, this chemical is also used in fertilizer and as a fungicide. Sodium citrate is another compound used in commercial sports drinks as a preservative and emulsifier and it has been linked to diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Unfortunately, both of these additives lower body pH and create an acidic internal environment, which forces your body to tap into its calcium and magnesium reserves in order to buffer the acid in the body and restore your tissue pH to normal levels. A decrease in calcium and magnesium can put you at increased risk for osteoporosis.
Brominated vegetable oil
Many commercial recovery drinks contain brominated vegetable oil to stabilize their hotly debated artificial colours and flavours and preserve their opaque hue. The vegetable oil component is usually derived from soybeans, but bromine is not naturally found in any foods so it’s artificially attached. There is no safe amount that can be tolerated in the diet. In fact, consuming excessive amounts of brominated vegetable oil has been shown to cause symptoms such as mental fatigue, skin pustules, memory loss, slurred speech, tremors, ataxia, and muscular weakness (Vorhees, 1983), as well as a transitory state resembling paranoid schizophrenia in extreme cases (4).
Most people have heard that food colouring is not the best thing for you to consume but the damage to your body maybe more significant than you think. Accumulated evidence suggests that children with ADHD type symptoms improve when removing artificial food colouring from the diet. (5) Studies have also shown that food colouring can have an effect on the DNA, liver and brain in animal studies. (6) (7) (8)
For a delicious and affordable home-made sport drink recipe, click here.
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk RHN hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. The show is aired in 78 countries worldwide including the USA on the Z Living Network.
Julie is the award winning, bestselling author of Meals That Heal Inflammation, Slimming Meals That Heal and her latest book Hot Detox. Julie has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows, including The Dr. Oz Show and is a resident expert for The Marilyn Denis Show.
1. Alison Goldin, Joshua A. Beckman, Ann Marie Schmidt and Mark A. Creager: “Advanced Glycation End Products: Sparking the Development of Diabetic Vascular Injury.” Circulation August 8, 2006, Volume 114, Issue 6
2. Hanbei Chena, Lifang Wub, Yakui Lib, Jian Mengb, Ning Lina, Dianqiang Yangb, c, Yemin Zhub, Xiaoyong Lia, Minle Lib, Ye Xud, Yuchen Wud, Xuemei Tongb and Qing Sua: “Advanced glycation end products increase carbohydrate responsive element binding protein expression and promote cancer cell proliferation.” Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology Volume 395, Issues 1–2, September 2014, Pages 69–78
3. Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG: “Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake.” Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2008;32(1):20-39. Epub 2007 May 18.
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5. Laura J. Stevens, MS, Thomas Kuczek, PhD, John R. Burgess, PhD (Purdue University, West Lafayette) Elizabeth Hurt, PhD, L. Eugene Arnold, MD (Ohio State University Medical School): “Dietary Sensitivities and ADHD Symptoms: Thirty-five Years of Research.” CLIN PEDIATR April 2011 vol. 50 no. 4 279-293
6. Tsuda S, Murakami M, Matsusaka N, Kano K, Taniguchi K, Sasaki YF: “DNA damage induced by red food dyes orally administered to pregnant and male mice.” Toxicol Sci. 2001 May;61(1):92-9.
7. Ashida H, Hashimoto T, Tsuji S, Kanazawa K, Danno G.: “Synergistic effects of food colors on the toxicity of 3-amino-1,4-dimethyl-5H-pyrido[4,3-b]indole (Trp-P-1) in primary cultured rat hepatocytes.”
J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2000 Jun;46(3):130-6.
8. Tanaka T, Takahashi O, Oishi S, Ogata A.”Effects of tartrazine on exploratory behavior in a three-generation toxicity study in mice.“ Reprod Toxicol. 2008 Oct;26(2):156-63. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2008.07.001. Epub 2008 Jul 17.