Let’s not sugar-coat it… How bad are sports drinks for you?
Many of our patients don’t feel properly educated, and as their health professionals, we want to ensure the public hears the truth about foods that are marketed as ‘healthy’. If we want to see a decline in the need for fillings and dental services, education has to start from a young age.
It’s also very hard for parents to do this when they are bombarded with marketing tactics claiming that ridiculously unhealthy drinks are actually healthy for them, and their children.
This is why we wanted to look into sports drinks, their contents and how bad they really are for you. To start this conversation, let’s first of all look at the sugar content of these drinks and how they compare to drinks that are typically considered unhealthy.
Sugar content in sports drinks vs. Red Bull and Coca-Cola
All information in 750ml volume as of February 2017.
Powerade Isotonic: 45g sugar
Gatorade: 43.14g sugar
Mizone Isopower Low Carb: 29g sugar
H2Go flavoured water: 18.8g sugar
Red Bull: 81g sugar (serving size is 27g/can)
Coca-Cola: 82g sugar
While we can see that a Powerade contains just over half of the sugar contents of a coke, 45g sugar is still a very high amount!
Sports drinks & energy drinks cause permanent tooth damage
We all know that consuming sugar contributes to tooth decay, but just how bad are sports drinks for your teeth? Based on a study by Dr Poonam Jain, sports and energy drinks can cause irreversible damage to tooth enamel, leaving your teeth vulnerable to increased risk of decay. This evaluation is based on a study performed by Dr Jain, which found that teeth submerged in the drinks for 15 minutes per day showed irreversible damage after only 5 days. This is not an unreasonable time if you are constantly sipping throughout a sports game.
You can read more about this particular study here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-drinking-energy-and-sports-drinks-like-bathing-teeth-in-acid/
Is there an alternative to these sports drinks?
Many sports drinks have sugar alternatives; however, the more synthetic additives you can avoid the better. It is always recommended that you choose natural over artificial, and even though these drinks do not have added refined sugar, they usually have added artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose.
Xylitol is one of the best sugar replacements for your teeth as it is derived from plants. It also naturally occurs within our body already and is manufactured daily as part of the metabolism. Other body health benefits include that xylitol does not require insulin to break down which make it very beneficial for diabetic patients. The calories are also minimal compared to other carbohydrates.
However, at Dental Pearls, we want to encourage our patients to choose water over any other drinks. Also, staying hydrated before and during a game is one of the best ways to stay energised and maintain your stamina.
Get help from your dentist
It’s also important to always ask your dentist if you are unsure about a product and visit them every six months for your general check-up. This will ensure that any damage that is done to your teeth can be treated early on, and any lifestyle changes can be implemented before irreversible damage occurs.