Energy drinks and their supposed health benefits first began to make a huge splash in the media with the rise of Gatorade and Powerade. The competition that arose between the brands has sparked a huge interest in incorporating sports drinks in our fitness.
Besides the constant marketing war, we’re also seeing sports teams proudly wearing sports drink branding as a sponsor of the team. There has been a lot of speculation and inspection as to the actual health benefits these drinks produce. That’s what we’re going to be taking a look at this time.
What are the real health benefits of sports drinks, if there are any?
What do they provide to us in and outside of the sporting environment?
Are there any risks?
Of course, it’s no surprise that the biggest appeal used in the marketing of sports drinks is the supposed benefits it has to an active lifestyle.
What are the facts behind these much touted benefits?
No doubt one word you’ve heard often in the marketing of sports drinks is about the electrolytes they provide. In fact, most sports drinks are flavoured water with added electrolytes. These electrolytes are the minerals your body needs including sodium, calcium and magnesium which we lose as we sweat. They help in proper muscle function. It’s important to make sure you get your electrolytes in sustain or particularly intense workouts. Many sports drinks also contain a lot of complex carbohydrates that help to fuel workouts as well.
One of the less known benefits of sports drinks is its medical benefits. It can have a real effect in assisting treatments or fighting the side effects of treatments. For example, one of the most common medical usages of sports drinks is in relation to cancer. Chemotherapy is a common treatment of cancer, as we all know. Nausea is one of the major side effects of undergoing chemotherapy.
Medicines treating this nausea have seen trouble in the past. Some drugs, like those involved in the Zofran lawsuit, result in kidney damage. So one of the treatments some are relying on is using sports drinks to rehydrate which can fight nausea. The carbohydrates can also help people gain energy when feeling too sick to consume real meals.
Of course, like just about anything we can consume, there are definite risks associated with drinking too many sports drinks. Many popular brands are full of sweeteners for instance, to make drinking them all the easier. However, these sweeteners can include high fructose corn syrup. HFSC has led to all kinds of things like abnormal weight gain and liver fibrosis.
The sweetness of the drinks also leads to a whole host of dental problems which can also lead to heart disease. Sports drinks have real benefits, but that doesn’t mean they are entirely without risk. It’s all about using them in moderation and sometimes substituting them with water. Water can provide a lot of the benefits but without the risks the sweeteners add.
With all this information, guess it’s on us to make an informed choice on what is best for our health and bodies.
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.