Originally developed at The University of Florida in 1965 and named after their sports teams, “The Gators,” Gatorade was intended for athletes such as football players who endured rigorous workouts in the hot sun. But somehow this potent drink has become a staple of our popular culture and its combinations of sugars, salt and electrolytes can be anything but healthy for all but the most strenuous exercisers. The fact is, for just about all of us, including children, water remains the healthiest drink either with meals or during and after exercise.
“For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best,” said Holly J. Benjamin M.D., a member of the executive committee of the AAP Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. “Sports drinks contain extra calories that children don’t need, and could contribute to obesity and tooth decay. It’s better for children to have water during and after exercise and to have the recommended intake of juice and low-fat milk with meals. Sports drinks are not recommended as beverages to have with meals.
Even worse are “energy drinks ” which contain huge amounts of of stimulants, including caffeine, guarana, and taurine. Some of these drinks contain more than 500mg of caffeine – the equivalent of 14 cans of pop! Combine that with huge amounts of tooth rotting and obesity-causing sugar, and you’ve got a formula for health disaster. To make things worse, some schools actually have “pouring contracts” where they are paid to promote unhealthy sodas and sports drinks.
Good old fashioned tap water, fortified with fluoride, not only remains the healthiest drink but the most inexpensive as well.
So please enjoy the football season, but remember not to let energy drinks and sports drinks ruin the dental and overall health of you and your children.