Sports Drinks Safe Alternatives or Junk Food

Anti-obesity, health advocates are at it again. They have successfully won a battle on having sodas banned in elementary schools by the 2008-2009 school year. They are furthering their cause by trying to also ban sports drinks in schools such as 'Gatorade' and 'Powerade' and flavored waters. They are claiming that sports drinks contain as much as two-thirds of the sugars in sodas, and more than three times the sodium.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) has apparently agreed with this cause, enough, by introducing a bill in congress that would allow the government to decide what is best for the nation's children, in setting nutritional standards for all foods, drinks, and flavored vitamin waters in schools. The hotly debated topic ensues in congress between nutritional health care advocates and the trade group that represents the bottlers of these drinks. Are they really 'safer alternatives' or just 'junk food'? It certainly is garnering some attention in congress, and for other interested bystanders as well.

The trade group representing the manufacturers of these drinks, of course, are adamantly opposing this bill. They proclaim these drinks are lower in sugar and calories than sodas, and are appropriate, even essential, to young high school athletes.

But, there is more evidence coming from the University of California at Berkeley, that adds fuel to the health care advocates cause, that warns about the possible weight gain associated with consuming to many of these drinks. They conclude that students who drink one 20- ounce of the drinks in question per day, for a year, without sufficient physical activity may experience a weight gain of up to 13 pounds.

Nutritionists, and health care advocates are not at all surprised with these findings. They say that looking at the ingredient label pretty much says it all. Read what the first three to four ingredients are in a recipe, they are listed in the order of their prevalence in the mixture. Most sports drinks and flavored waters consist mostly of water, many different types of sugar, acid flavor enhancers, and sodium.

Bucket loads of money is being spent by beverage manufacturers, on brainwashing advertisements, to get consumers to believe that these drinks are healthy, and essential. They claim they are needed to replenish those lost electrolytes, due to physical exertion. But, there is simply no real scientific evidence to support this theory. So, you can then begin to understand why the makers of these drinks do not want any official congressional sanctioning, of the notion, that sports drinks are linked to obesity.

Children who are involved in a long and physically demanding game, or any lengthy physical activity, and are drinking simple carbohydrates such as high fructose corn syrup (HFC), glucose, dextrose (the list can be quite lengthy), will experience a rise in normal insulin levels. Elevated insulin levels causes a short spike in energy levels followed by a sudden energy crash. This sluggishness can affect a child's overall athletic performance.

Sports drinks also contain enough sugar, just like sodas, to corrode teeth. Physical exertion causes dry mouth conditions, as not enough saliva is present in the mouth to fight off the acidic effects that sugar can have on teeth.

Children, or adults, simply do not require a short-term energizing boost in heir insulin levels in, relation to the amount of mild physical activity they are expending most of the time. Walking the dog, washing the car, or a quick game of hoops does not qualify as a vigorous enough activity to warrant the use of a sports drink. And, many children, and adults, lead very sedentary lifestyles, that buying into advertising claims about the safety, or essential need for such a product can help add to an ongoing obesity problem.

The only situation where a sports drink might be helpful, is after an individual has truly engaged in a vigorous physical workout that lasted for at least an hour. If you are actually sweating profusely, or if hot and humid weather conditions combined with high physical exertion are present, you might treat yourself with a sports drink. Otherwise, there are healthier food options for energy, and water alone does a wonderful job of re-hydrating you. To replace lost minerals, give your body some pure unrefined salt.

There really is no getting around it, manufactured beverages the way they are currently being sweetened are not healthy hydrating fluids for your body. And, they should never be used in total replacement of pure water. If you think you must have a sports drink, try a watered down version instead. However, plant the seed of knowledge in your mind,right now, that nothing satisfies your body more efficiently than plain and simple water.
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