Sports & Energy Drinks – The Lowdown
It is widely known that certain drinks advertising themselves as ‘energy’ drinks are high in sugar, as their purpose is to provide energy to sportspeople. Among these are electrolyte drinks which professional sportspeople use to replenish their sugar and salt stocks. However, these drinks have been known to cause tooth decay in many professional and amateur sportspeople who have featured in national news.
Statistics show that 1 in 5 professional athletes’ performance has been affected due to poor oral health and 50% had not visited a dentist in 12 months.
One of the reasons athletes’ teeth are suffering is due to sports/energy drinks, which are marketed to enhance performance by providing additional energy. However, these drinks are high in acid and sugar making them an enemy to tooth enamel, which is worn away after their consumption.
Mouthwash and toothpaste high in fluoride will help wash away the acid that corrodes your teeth. Acid and sugar begin wearing away your enamel 3 hours, which is why it’s important to consume plenty of water soon after the consumption of these drinks – this will contribute to washing away the acid.
Using a straw will also reduce the likelihood of tooth decay and other tooth-related complications
Professor Ian Needleman of UCL said that ‘we’re not trying to demonise energy drinks and that athletes shouldn’t be using them. But that ‘people should be aware of the risks’
Are there other energy-giving options other than/in addition to energy drinks?
As mentioned above and to further emphasise Professor Needleman’s statement, energy drinks aren’t a complete no-go for athletes, though if possible they should be consumed in moderation. There are many people who consume energy drinks and who do not go on to burn off the calories they provide, which then leads to weight gain, so it’s important to limit these drinks to when you actually know you’re going to burn them off.
Other energy giving foods that don’t have a damaging impact on your teeth include:
Bananas – bananas are a well-known source of potassium and offer slow-release energy which means your sports performance is sustained, rather than energy drinks which offer a short and sharp energy surge (which is why they have to be consumed often, causing damage to teeth). Bananas are also very versatile – the longer you let them ripen, the more sugar they accumulate (which will provide more energy), though even if they are not very ripe they are still considered an excellent source of energy.
Gingerbread – Although it is still considered confectionary, gingerbread is one of the least damaging to your teeth. Instead of eating an energy bar (tooth-unfriendly sugars), why not try a piece of gingerbread before heading out on the track or field? Don’t forget to drink some after afterwards though, as this will help wash away the bits that linger between your teeth and cause tooth decay.
Veg/fruit smoothie – green smoothies are currently having a huge period in the spotlight ever since many LA-based celebrities started consuming them a couple of years ago, and they’ve stayed there since! Kale is full of vitamins including iron and vitamin B which makes them a great energy giver as well as all-round healthy choice. Obviously kale doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to tasting great…so you can add a few things to compliment it and turn your smoothie into delicious creamy energy-giving goodness, such as cashews, banana, dates, vanilla extract and water.