Food manufacturers aren’t stupid. They are so savvy and smart with their marketing and labeling tricks that it is at least a full time job to try and stay ahead of their ever changing ingredient games.
Food manufacturers know full well that parents are increasingly seeking low sugar drinks for their children. With more than 1 in 3 Western children now overweight or obese, the numbers continuing to rapidly rise and overconsumption of sugary drinks being blamed as a primary cause, Big Food is using this perfect storm of ill health and poor food choices to heavily market low carb and low sugar sports drinks to these vulnerable families.
Be very cautious when buying these types of drinks for your children! A label on a sports drink that reads “Low Sugar”, “Reduced Sugar”, “Low Carb” or something to that effect indicates that an ingredient switcheroo has taken place. Sugar may be reduced, yes, but something even more insidious has likely replaced it.
That “something” is very likely aspartame (nutrasweet) or its components, aspartic acid and/or phenylalanine. Food manufacturers hide these neurotoxic ingredients under “artificial” or “natural” flavorings on the label. That’s right – your favorite sports drink may contain aspartame and you don’t even know it!
How to know for sure? You really don’t. The “artificial and natural flavorings” labels are just too broad and allow way too much leeway to food manufacturers for any level of comfort to be achieved for anyone seeking a healthy beverage.
Just know that if the sugar has been reduced from the regular version of the product you are buying, then in all likelihood, aspartame or some other dangerous sweetener like Splenda, acesulfame-K, or the latest one, neotame, has been added even if not so labeled.
Parents who would never buy a diet soda for their children are unknowingly scooping up these low sugar sports drinks for their children thinking it a more healthy choice!
Don’t be fooled! If you are at a sporting event with your child, it is always better to opt for the sugary sports drink rather than a “low sugar” or “low carb” version with neurotoxic additives.
Sugar may make you fat, but at least it doesn’t fry your brain!
Better yet, why not bring your own healthy homemade sports drink for your child?
Sports Drinks Substitutes
Here are five healthy ideas to use as substitutes for sports drinks.
- Kombucha is the best, rehydrating sports drink I’ve ever encountered. However, kombucha needs to be in clear glass at all times, so bringing a glass container to a children’s sporting event is not very practical. Water kefir is another option that is faster to make.
- Coconut water is a natural, isotonic beverage that quickly replenishes minerals. It tastes sweet and may be a bit of an acquired taste for some, though many children take to it right away.
- Haymakers Oat Water (from Nourishing Traditions): 1 gallon filtered water, 1 cup organic rolled oats, 1 cup lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar, 1 cup molasses (optional). Mix all ingredients and leave on the counter overnight (stir occasionally). Strain in the morning, chill, and serve. Haymakers Punch is another option that is delicious and hydrating.
- Quick Sports Drink (personal adaptation from Nourishing Traditions): 8 oz filtered water, 2-4 TBL liquid whey, juice of 1 lemon, 1 lime, or an orange), 1/4 tsp sea salt. Mix together well, chill.
- Add a pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of a fresh lemon to a bottle of filtered water if you are in a rush.
Thank you to Stanley, author of Tender Grassfed Beef, for emailing me a comment that inspired me to write this post a lot sooner than I probably would have!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist