So you’ve just finished a hard
day of work, driving, loading, unloading, truck maintenance and the whole nine
yards. And in 100-degree plus summer heat.
You need to get some of those fluids you’ve lost through the
sweat glands back. So what’s the best way to quench your thirst – water or
The answer varies depending on whom you ask. But there is
more and more information out there that says Gatorade and other sports drinks
are the way to go.
“Sports drinks are among
the most widely used forms of nutrition supplementation for athletes and
exercise enthusiasts alike, and with good reason—they work,” Robert M. Hackman Ph.D., wrote recently in an
article for HealthWell. Hackman is the executive director of the Center for Complementary and Alternative
Medicine Research at the University of California, Davis.
Most sports drinks trace their history – and Gatorade traces
its name – back to the University of Florida football team, the Gators. The
players consumed a liquid that contained sugar and salt – or, to put in
highfalutin’ scientific terms, carbohydrates and electrolytes. The mixture
helped them perform better in the heavy, humid Florida heat.
Most sources seem to regard sports drinks as better for
people exerting themselves during hot weather than plain water, and far better
than drinks such as sodas.
According to About.com,
the drinks don’t put more water into your system, but because they taste better
than plain water, you’re likely to drink more.
typical sweet-tart taste combination doesn't quench thirst, so you will keep
drinking a sports drink long after water has lost its appeal,” the site’s
researchers wrote. The drinks also restore some electrolytes lost when you
Hackman says the drinks really are better than water for your body.
“Properly formulated sports drinks can speed water into the
body – more quickly than by drinking water alone,” Hackman said. “The key
element is the carbohydrate solution that ranges from 6 to 8 percent. This
concentration appears to ‘turn on’ a glucose pump in the intestines that pumps
both water and carbohydrates into the bloodstream at a faster rate than plain
water is absorbed.”
But that doesn’t mean that you should drink as much as
possible. In some cases, drinking too much, whether sports drinks or water, can
actually be dangerous.
Timothy David Noakes, of the
University of South Africa in Cape Town, told Reuters news service recently
that drinking too much water while engaging in heavy physical activity can lead
to a condition called hypoatremic encephalopathy, in
which the brain swells because of a lack of salt in the blood. Some athletes
have actually died of the condition.
The best course
to follow, according to medical authorities, is to drink if you’re thirsty.
Usually, 12 to 24 fluid ounces per hour during exercise is enough.
Most scientists seemed to agree that both
sports drinks and water are better than fruit juices, sodas, tea, coffee and
alcohol. Many of those actually dehydrate the body more, created a potential
danger and the possibility of heat-related illnesses.