Friday, November 09, 2007

Is Red Bull and Gatorade bad for health???

I have had a lot of people ask me if drinking Red Bull and Gatorade is good for health. Some of them have read some research pieces which state that energy drinks like Red Bull and Electrol drinks like Gatorade, are not good for health.

My answer to them has been a yes and a no. But before I start, the most important thing to note is that these are not social drinks, these are for endurance athletes or in some cases for dehydration patients. You are not suppose to have this when you hit a party or hang out with friends.

Let me give my example to explain this point, the only time I have a energy drink is when I have done a long run, its the way I reward myself once a week. Energy drink is not something I have at social occasions, its better to have a soft drink which has empty calories than a energy drink (soft drinks/sodas are avoidable as well, but they are a lesser evil, its always better to settle for some fresh fruit juice or lime juice!). The problem does not occur with the first glass of energy drink (read Red Bull, Edge....), its when you hit the second and third drink. These are very high sugar drinks, which only a endurance athlete can stomach and burn, not meant for everybody (once in a while is ok, but should not be habitual). Its really sad to see F1 drivers drinking a energy drink before the start of a race, absolutely avoidable. I would not recommend having it during your exercise routine, its not a hydration drink (remember!!), the only time you can afford to have it is after a workout, when a good sugar burst makes you feel a better.

Another very disturbing trend is when I see people mixing Red Bull and Vodka. That is a complete no no, its a deadly combination. Alcohol is a depressant and Red Bull gives you a sugar boost, so the drink pulls you in different direction and is completely avoidable. Most people do not even realise what they are doing to their bodies, when they have this combination. There are enough research articles to support this point of view.

Now coming to Gatorade or similar hydration drinks, these are not really substitutes for water or softdrinks, they have salts which in excess can cause imbalance in your body's water retention (it gets more complicated if you have problems with your blood pressure). These are again meant for athletes and are good after facing some really hot and muggy climate. And are again meant to be had in moderation. Soft drinks which give you empty calories (and which damage your enamel) do not result in any imbalance even if you have 1.5liters at one go, but a similar quantity of Gatorade (without loss of fluids) can result in a big imbalance in body water & salt levels.

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