Health Risks of Gatorade

Gatorade is probably America’s number one sports drink, but is it really the best for America’s health? When athletes sweat, they lose body fluids. The effectiveness of Gatorade lies in the fact that it replenishes the lost fluids and also adds electrolytes to hold water in the body. Salts prevent dehydration, which make them popular ingredients in sports drinks.

Yet, when unnecessary, experts do not recommend drinking Gatorade. With its high salt and sugar content, Gatorade can place unnecessary stress on the body. Those that chronically drink Gatorade without performing exercise can suffer from unwanted health results.

The University of Florida designed Gatorade in the 1960s to replenish salts lost during exercise and physical exertion. If the body does not require increased salt intake, the high sodium levels in Gatorade can cause muscle cramping. Of course, electrolytes help prevent cramping when one is exercising, but without the exercise, sodium promotes cramping.

Furthermore, increasing sodium content in the body has the reverse reaction of potassium content on the body; more sodium depletes the quantity of potassium. Potassium is an important substance that our body needs to survive. A healthy human being requires twice as much potassium than sodium. Incongruently, 8-ounces of Gatorade contains 30 mg of potassium to 110 mg of sodium.

Even longer-term misusers will place unhealthy stress on the kidneys. When there are excess salts in the body, the kidneys work harder to process the salts and bring the body back into balance. Eventually, pushing the kidneys too hard can cause kidney stones.

Aside from the high quantities of salt in this popular sports drink, Gatorade also contains 14 grams of sugar, most of it fructose. Americans are already, on average, experiencing increased weight gain. Fructose not only promotes tooth decay and high blood pressure like other simple sugars, but it also converts to fat more readily than any other sugar.

Similarly to the relationship between sodium and potassium, increased fructose content inhibits copper production within the body. Copper deficiency affects heat health and connective tissues.

The problem is not that Gatorade is an unhealthy drink, but that it is overused and misused by the general population. Gatorade is effective when one is sweating and therefore, losing fluid and electrolytes. However, chronically drinking Gatorade in other situations has a detrimental effect on human health.