Helping Student Athletes Go, Fight, and Win

As fall sports place physical demands on student athletes and their families, it is worth thinking twice about how we replenish lost nutrients.

We feed our athletes and our soccer moms and dads far too much fast food as we rush around getting them to games and practices.

Then, we send them to the courts and fields where we put tremendous stress on their bodies, speed up their metabolism, and increase their need for good nutrition.  Popular sports drinks don’t help.  One popular sports drink label shows 34 grams of sugar in a 20 ounce bottle!  Sugar in the absence of the balanced array of nutrients needed to metabolize it is little more than an addictive drug.  Meanwhile, the electrolytes in the same popular beverage include only sodium, potassium, and phosphorus.  Hardly the array of mineral nutrients needed to fuel the cellular energy producing pathways of glycolysis, the Kreb’s cycle, and electron transport. So in school sports where young athletes are running, lifting weights, tackling, jumping, dancing, or engaging in any wide array of athletic performance, it is unlikely that the nutritional demands they are placing on their growing bodies are being met with the sports drinks and snacks commonly made available at their workouts.

The idea promoted by sports drinks manufacturers is that by hydrating the body and restoring the electrolyte balance, we can replenish what our kids are losing when they sweat and burn energy playing sports. This sounds good in theory, but when you consider that the body needs more than a dozen mineral nutrients that can be described as “electrolytes,” in addition to as many as 90 vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients, nutrients missing from typical school lunches, it is imply preposterous to think that we can replenish what is missing with a sports drink that provides sugar and 3 electrolytes.

There are two points I want to make:

  1. Sugar can dehydrate us.  As an osmolyte, it can be used to modify the water balance in cells.  In fact, sugar in high concentrations is used in laboratory cell cultures to mimic drought stress.   As sugar levels in sports drinks increase, so does potential for dehydration.
  2. The body contains many ions that act as electrolytes, but popular sports drinks are only replacing sodium, potassium, and phosphorus ions. This means when your student athlete sweats out magnesium, manganese, cobalt, iron, copper, and other mineral nutrients, these elements are not being replenished.

If we really want to help students retain their athletic potential, we would do better to avoid the cheap sports drinks, buy some melons from one of our local farmers,  and hand slices to the kids at half time.  Natural fruit juices harvested from plants grown on good soils are loaded with both mineral and phytochemical electrolytes.

Furthermore, we know that burning lots of energy and speeding up our metabolism also creates oxidative stress.   How many antioxidants does your sports drink contain?  Keep in mind that your athlete is generating not just trillions, but septillions of free radicals, so to prevent oxidative stress from slowing her down, you better make sure she has copper and zinc in her sports drink.  With copper and zinc, he or she can put enzymes like superoxide disumutase to work removing free radicals.

So try to eat fresh whole foods, take supplements when you must eat fast and processed foods, and if the custodians won’t let you bring fresh fruit into the gym, at least choose a sports drink that is low in sugar and contains and a rich blend of nutrients.

Good nutrition can improve performance, reduce the risk of injury, and even speed up recovery time when injury does occur.

If local melons are out of season or the coach thinks they are too messy to have on the courts and fields, consider the Rebound Sports Drink available from our Youngevity Store.   Sold alone, or as part of a Healthy Body Sports Pak, Rebound stick packs offer a nutrient rich, convenient and cost effective alternative that provides vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbs to support optimal levels of performance*.



*This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA


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