(HealthyResearch.com) – Exercise can take a lot out of a person, especially when the weather is hot. But is a sports drink always the right choice to stay hydrated? The answer might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually not so simple. There are times when water alone won’t do. There are also instances when sports drinks can do more harm than good. Here’s how to make the right choice.
Proper hydration is vital to keeping body temperature, blood volume and muscle movements all within normal working range. We can lose water during strenuous exercise or from prolonged vomiting and/or diarrhea. Some regions can reach dangerously high temperatures during the summer months, which can also lead to excessive sweating.
When the body loses a mere 3% of its total water, the effects of severe dehydration begin to set in. Body temperature rises. Muscles cramp. If left unaddressed, the person can experience heat exhaustion or even suffer a stroke.
But that’s not all. Along with all that water we lose when we sweat, we also lose small amounts of salt, says MedlinePlus. When a person sweats excessively, they risk losing unhealthy amounts of both. If they replace the water they’ve lost but not the salt, they can develop a condition called exercise-associated hyponatremia. This causes dangerously low sodium levels and excessive fluid accumulation throughout the body.
Exercise-associated hyponatremia can be life-threatening, but it’s also 100% preventable. In the case of any extreme exertion, sports drinks help replace lost salt alongside fluids, ensuring that electrolytes remain in balance. VeryWellFit recommends trying NOOMA Organic Electrolyte Drink, Gatorade or Harmless Harvest Coconut Water.
When Sports Drinks Are Overkill
Sports drinks aren’t always the right call. In fact, they can sometimes do more harm than good. Medical News Today warns that people should only turn to sports drinks if they’ve been exercising heavily for at least an hour. Otherwise, they run the risk of putting unnecessary salt and sugar in their bodies.
Other times when sports drinks might be necessary include prolonged exposure to hot temperatures or illnesses that cause dehydration through the form of vomiting and/or diarrhea. (If you’re unsure if you should drink sports drinks for an illness, talk to your healthcare provider).
Excess salt consumption can increase hypertension risks and may also increase systemic inflammation. Too much sugar can add to this inflammation and contribute to weight gain, and there’s good evidence that sports drinks and other high-glycemic foods can trigger asthma attacks. People with asthma, high blood pressure and other inflammatory conditions should consume sports drinks with caution.
Sports drinks can be a healthy addition to most rigorous exercise routines, but they’re not appropriate for all situations. People who are watching their sodium or sugar consumption should be especially careful when they choose between a sports drink and water. The same is true for anyone who has kidney or liver issues, which play a critical role in electrolyte level maintenance throughout the body.
It’s important to grab the right drink for the right workout. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to grab a Gatorade. In most cases, just plain water will do.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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