Many companies have introduced hydration formulas which include water, electrolytes, and some form of carbohydrates such as glucose for energy. But what else are they putting in these sports drinks?
Knowing which ingredients in a food or drink are good for you or harmful is a difficult endeavor. Many ingredients in sports drinks come with a warning of health hazards if taken in quantity.
For example, one dose of artificial dye, may not harm you, but repeated use through ingestion of gallons of a sports drink may eventually cause adverse symptoms. Sports drinks, like Gatorade, have become so popular that many people consume them instead of water, even when they are not working out.
Additives are designed to improve nutritional value, help with absorption, prevent spoilage, maintain freshness, act as a preservative, retard bacterial growth, provide cohesiveness, extend shelf life, enhance visual appearance, or act as a sweetener.
Most people are aware of the toxic side effects of artificial colors and flavors from coal tar derivatives such as Red #40, a possible carcinogen, and Yellow #6, which causes sensitivity to viruses and has caused death to animals, yet these are commonly used in sports drinks.
Cochineal extract or Carmine Dye is a color additive used in food, drinks such as cola, cosmetics, and to dye fibers red. It is made of the ground up female cochineal bugs from Central and South America. University of Michigan allergist, James Baldwin, M.D., confirmed cochineal extract triggered life-threatening anaphylactic shock in some people.
Another chemical additive quite often found in sports drinks is PEG (polyethylene glycol). Sometimes used as a drug to induce mild diarrhea and cleanse the colon before surgery, it stays within the intestinal tract and is not absorbed. It is a water-soluble, waxy solid that is added to products to increase the freezing point. When given intravenously it tends to increase the ability of blood to clot, and if given rapidly causes clumping of cells and death from embolism. Warnings from the MSDS labeling indicate that “if swallowed, give water and get medical assistance immediately. Avoid all unnecessary exposure and insure prompt removal from skin and clothing.” Side effects are listed as nausea, bloating, cramps, vomiting, chills, and anal irritation. It also may interfere with drug effectiveness such as blood thinners, birth control pills, and anti-inflammatories.
For most athletes and most types of exercise, its not necessary to consume large amounts of glucose during your workout. Sports drink manufacturers have convinced many athletes and casual consumers that consuming 25 grams of sugar per serving is actually healthy for you.
Choosing an all-natural electrolyte replacement drink, free from sugar and harmful additives, will not only help your performance but will keep you healthy in the long run. You can even make your own healthy homemade sports drink with a few simple ingredients.
Electrolyte replacement isn't just for runners or athletes -- explorers, hikers and individuals who are active, especially outdoors in the sun, should replenish their electrolytes. Active.com recently published the article What to Pack on Your Next Hike, giving great suggestions on what gear, nutrition, and hydration to pack when hiking outdoors.
The previous was an excerpt from a publication: "Runners Guide To Electrolyte and Carbohydrate Replacement", by sports nutritionist, Nina Anderson (SPN) of Safe Goods Publishing. For additional information read the full publication.