Sports Drinks

The sports drink trend that began more than two decades ago has brought about changes that reach far beyond the supermarket shelves. We have seen this product line expand from one major brand to a vast array of brands, flavors, colors and claims of miraculous recovery from post exertion electrolyte depletion. Advertising would have us believe that this is the preferred method for maintaining balanced electrolytes, restoring fluid balance and providing us with energy. Many kids and adults consider them an essential libation. We are consuming them in record quantities.

There are a number of problems with this trend. Sports drinks are generally loaded with either sugar or artificial sweeteners, dyes, caffeine and a host of additives. Also, the concentration of electrolytes is far greater than our bodies need or find healthy. Children in particular do not need high concentrations of potassium, which are hard on the gut. Nausea is frequently an issue. Many people think that giving up soda for sports drinks is a healthy upgrade. Actually the opposite is true.

These drinks that have large quantities of sugar have no place in a healthy diet. Artificial sweeteners are worse than sugar in some ways and the case against them gains ground daily. They frequently act as triggers for migraines and asthma just to name two. Dyes fall in the same category. Even with reasonably weak toxins, ingested in sufficient quantities repercussions of some kind are to be expected.

When we add calories and the expense of purchase we can make a pretty good case for seriously limiting if not eliminating sports drinks from a healthy diet. As with many other popular food items, an occasional indulgence is not the issue. Our habits define us and there are healthier habits to develop.

Making your own sports drink is not only easy and cheap but healthy and green as well. Squeeze half a lemon or lime into your reusable drink bottle. Add a teaspoonful or two of sugar or honey if you like. Sugar is 15 calories a teaspoonful and even at 2 teaspoonfuls provides only a fraction of the sugar found in most drinks. Oranges, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, kiwi and mango also make excellent additions. Most of these are good with no additional sweetener. Any fruit added to water will provide the hydration and electrolyte replenishment most people need, particularly children. Eating a piece of fruit is another healthy option.

The bonus here is a green one. Using your own bottle keeps plastic out of our landfills. Taking your own also saves money. The cost savings can be considerable.