Prior to the 1960s, professional athletes, marathon runners, high school jocks, and little league ballplayers all reached for the same thing when they grew thirsty: water. But in 1965, sports drinks took the hydration game by storm.
Nowadays, people have all but replaced water with these sugary drinks. While popular among star athletes and weekend warriors alike, are these drinks any more effective in keeping us hydrated than water? What kinds of effects do they have on our teeth? Here we take a look at the most important factors to consider when deciding whether to reach for water or your favorite sports drink.
Sports Drinks Have Significantly More Electrolytes and Carbohydrates
Electrolytes. Almost all of us have heard the word, but what exactly are they? Electrolytes are minerals that create an electrical charge when absorbed by the body. These elements help aid the brain in sending nerve signals to the rest of the body, ensure proper muscle contraction, and regulate acidity in the blood (also known as pH levels). The electrolytes and extra carbohydrates contained in drinks like Gatorade and Powerade can be beneficial for individuals participating in intense, continuous exercise for several hours at a time.
However, the truth is, most of us don’t need either.
Some studies have found that because of the carbohydrates and electrolytes they contain, sports drinks can improve the performance of endurance athletes like runners, cyclists, and soccer players. But for regular individuals who aren’t planning on running a marathon or cycling for several hours in sweltering heat, water performs just as well. Several scientific studies have shown no difference in the hydrating power of the two drinks with mild to moderate activity. .
Sweeter Isn’t Always Better
While the sugars found in many sports drinks may help them taste great, they also produce acids that dissolve and damage your teeth. By contrast, water can actually help wash away the bacteria responsible for tooth decay, keeping your teeth and gums healthier.
As with every sweet treat, sports drinks can be enjoyed in moderation in order to protect your oral and overall health. For now though, good old fashioned water is still king of the beverages for us and our oral health.