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THE TRUTH ABOUT “NO SUGAR” HYDRATION & SPORTS DRINKS

In ENDO 2018, the 100th annual meeting, researchers presented new data showing “sucralose, a popular artificial sweetener, promotes metabolic dysregulation….low-calorie sweeteners promote metabolic dysfunction similar to that of regular sugar, despite the lack of calories”. In other words, just as sugar is bad for the body and creates problems, so do artificial sweeteners. These artificial sweeteners cause havoc in your body’s normal response to glucose and insulin, and rather than helping you they harm your body and make you prone to diabetes.

As adults, especially adults with diabetes, choosing hydration drinks or sports drinks with artificial sweeteners or dextrose (corn sugar) is a bad idea. We all need to hydrate, but without jeopardizing our health to do so. Therefore, it takes a bit more planning and forethought.

You can understand why a toddler with a stomach virus may benefit from a sugar-fueled electrolyte solution to avoid getting dehydrated. Using drinks like Gatorade and Pedialyte is common practice in staving off dehydration in children, but both have dextrose. 

When trying to keep a sick child hydrated, parents pull out all the stops and this is why parents often choose these popular hydration drinks for their children, they are sweet and taste good. The truth is, they are not as healthy as people believe they are. 

ARE SUGAR-FREE HYDRATION & SPORTS DRINKS GOOD FOR YOU?

It depends on the quality of the drink. Cheaply made hydration drinks, electrolyte drinks and sports drinks are often a concoction of artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and artificial flavorings.

Let’s take Powerade Zero, for example. If you have diabetes, this is a drink you may reach for to hydrate and replace electrolytes thinking it would be a great alternative for a drink without sugar. Here is a breakdown of the less than desirable ingredients found in Powerade Zero.

Sucralose

  • Sucralose has been linked to interfering with gut bacteria. There is a delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in our stomach and intestines that allow each other to co-exist without consequence. It is called a microbiome. Upsetting this balance could lead to stomach or intestinal illness.
  • Recent studies have also shown sucralose to alter glucose and insulin levels in the blood, which is the very thing that diabetic patients are trying to avoid.
  • Sucralose has been linked to higher incidences of some cancers, including Leukemia.
  • The Centers for Science in the Public Interest have recently downgraded the safety rating of sucralose from “caution” to “avoid.”

Acesulfame K

  • It’s a little known artificial sweetener that hides among other sweeteners; it is often blended in with other artificial sweeteners to give them a more “sugar-like” taste.
  • The first ingredient that goes into manufacturing Acesulfame K is a solvent called methylene chloride. Methylene chloride is the solvent used in paint strippers and paint removers; it is also used as a propellant for bug spray and aerosol paint sprays. Yuck!

Blue 1

  • Also known as Brilliant Blue FCF is a water-soluble, artificial blue dye used in food, drugs, and cosmetics.
  • So when you reach for that sugar-free drink feeling like you are doing a good thing by avoiding sugar, you might need to think again. It’s important to note, though, that all sugar-free sports drinks are not created equal.

Many popular brands of hydration drinks are loaded with unhealthy items and because these brands are targeting a younger demographic they make them sweet. Many of these sports drinks for example have dextrose added.

Dextrose

Dextrose is referred to as simple sugar and is derived from corn. And most, if not all of the time, it’s GMO corn. It can be found in processed foods, sports supplements, baking products and pastries. There are some benefits of consuming dextrose. Since this compound is identical to glucose, it provides quick energy and benefits athletes because of their high energy output. It is used to treat low blood sugar.

All simple sugars, including dextrose can cause spikes in blood sugar and contribute to diabetes and insulin resistance. Dextrose is quickly absorbed into your system and can skyrocket blood glucose levels, which is bad for diabetics.

WHAT IS THE HEALTHIEST SPORTS DRINK?

The healthiest sports drink is one that is made with all organic, real ingredients. The one that is crafted with care and not mass-produced with little quality control.

Let’s take HYDRATE, for example. Hydrate was created by Olympic athlete Kris Buchanan. It consists of six real, organic ingredients.

Organic Lemon Juice

  • Nothing quenches your thirst like the flavor of real fruit juice.

Organic Coconut Water

  • Coconut water is low in calories, rich in potassium. Compared to typical sports drinks, coconut water has fewer calories, less sodium, but higher amounts of potassium.
  • The potassium in coconut water acts as a co-transporter for sodium.

Organic Stevia

  • Stevia is plant-based and has shown potential health benefits as a healthful sugar alternative for people with diabetes.
  • Stevia has been approved for use in the United States (U.S.) and does not appear to pose any health risks when used in moderation.

Aquamin Magnesium

  • Magnesium is an essential nutrient, and is especially beneficial for supporting heart and bone health.
  • It has 72 other trace minerals that have a multitude of health benefits.

Himalayan Pink Salt

  • One of the purest, whole food forms of salt on the planet with 80+ trace minerals.
  • It nourishes cells, thyroid and adrenals.
  • It helps overall hormone balance.
  • Helps with digestion.

Ascorbic Acid

  • (Vitamin C) – A new study from Deakin University has found that it can help those with type 2 diabetes by lowering elevated blood sugar levels across the day and minimizing spikes in blood sugar after meals.

DOES SUGAR HELP WITH DEHYDRATION?

Some people are under the assumption that sugar or glucose is necessary for proper hydration. That is partially true, and here’s why. Glucose assists in transporting sodium, chloride, and water across the intestinal barrier. However, this doesn’t mean that every time you want to rehydrate, you have to sacrifice your blood sugar levels—more on that in a minute.

Yes, sugar helps with hydration in the sense that it helps transport sodium, which our bodies need; however, it isn’t sodium’s only reliable method of transportation. Without getting too technical here, I’m going to explain the concept of co-transportation, which is why sugar is not needed for electrolyte absorption. Nutrient and mineral transportation inside the body is a complicated process, and some substances need the help of other substances to cross specific barriers.

Here is a list of other co-transporters that can help deliver sodium to the intestines to assist in hydration.

  • Butyrate: This is gut bacteria that assist with water and sodium absorption
  • Phosphorous:  It transfers electrolytes through cells in the large and small intestines. 
  • Potassium and chloride: These electrolytes pair up with sodium transporters throughout your body. 

The manufacturers of quality, natural hydration drinks study these concepts and know what minerals need to pair with sodium for effective absorption.

A FINAL WORD

Well, there you have it—the blueprints for the best and worst electrolyte replacement drinks. There are many hydration drinks to choose from, and not all of them are the same. There are many variations of ingredients that are used. You can use these lists as a guide in choosing what kinds of ingredients you want to see in your hydration drink and what types of ingredients you don’t.

One thing is for sure I don’t want anything used in my drink that is used to make the paint thinner and you shouldn’t either!

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