My tween’s a great fan of all drinks -ade and while I manage to keep him away from caffeinated beverages, reasonably successfully, sports drinks are a little difficult to put down. My mommy instinct has been nagging me with its disapproval for quite some time so, this morning I consulted Mr. Google who helpfully came up with an armload of info for me to sift through.
Here’s an executive summary … errr … mommy summary for the busiest people around.
What is a sports drink?
It is an electrolyte solution with some carbohydrate added to it.
What’s an electrolyte?
Electrolytes are basically mineral salts dissolved in water or other fluids. When dissolved they become charged particles or ions. Sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are the most common electrolytes present in our body.
What good are they?
To put it very simply, electrolytes are required to keep the heart, nerves and muscles functioning properly. They enable fluid distribution and balance in our bodies and help transport nutrients in and waste out of our cells.
Can’t the body make its own electrolytes?
Unfortunately, no. We receive our electrolytes from dietary sources.
Then sports drinks must be good?
In theory, when you exercise and lose body fluids through sweat or because of an illness causing vomiting or diarrhea, your body needs to replenish the lost salts and water. Sports drinks provide both, but doctors agree that Pedialyte is better :). It is the dyes or colours, high sugar content, preservatives and non-salts in sports drinks that attracts criticism.
So if I need electrolytes and I shouldn’t have a sports drink what should I do?
Firstly, if you *need* electrolytes due to a medical condition, hold off on the drink and consult with your doctor. For recreational use of sports drinks, a much-endorsed natural substitute exists – Coconut Water. It contains potassium in decent proportions, calcium and anti-oxidants. It is sterile (until you start messing with it) and tastes great when chilled. The best part is that it’s available round the year at a very reasonable cost in tropical countries like ours or even for free if you have a coconut palm in your backyard.
So now that we know the science, will my tween switch over to coco water? It’s a battle yet to be fought, but in my experience, logic doesn’t win arguments – usually, and age has nothing to do with it. The role of logic in changing minds is a topic worthy of its own post so till then, work up a sweat and chillax with a cool drink of coconut water.