PacSci Perspectives

Water Or Sports Drink? Choosing Your Thirst Quencher

by | Mar 15, 2016

It’s officially spring sports season! The Sounders are playing and the Mariners are at spring training. If you or your kiddos like to get active this season, you may wonder when and whether sports drinks are a good choice.

According to Harvard University’s The Nutrition Source, an average sports drink contains about five teaspoons of added sugar. This added sugar can harm your teeth.

Your teeth are protected by enamel, a hard shell. To protect your teeth, you need to protect the enamel from acid erosion. Almost all foods and sports drinks have some amount of sugar. And the bacteria in our mouths combine with the sugar to create acid, which eats away at our teeth, causing cavities.

Consuming water is always a healthier option, but sometimes your body needs the electrolytes in sports drinks.

Here are a few things to consider before you swig a sports drink:

How intense is your activity?

If you’re an athlete or partake in prolonged physical activity, you’ll benefit from swigging a sports drink. Intense sweat sessions deplete your body’s resources and overall energy. Sports drinks fight fatigue and supercharge stamina with electrolytes and carbohydrates.

However, most of us would benefit by drinking water. A brisk walk around the block doesn’t warrant a sports drink.

How often do you drink sports drinks?

If you’re constantly sipping a sweet beverage, your teeth are constantly exposed to acid. When sugar sits on your teeth for long periods of time, you’re destined for decay. So, drink sports beverages sparingly.

How and when do you consume sports drinks?

While it’s true sugared drinks can cause cavities, how and when you drink makes a huge difference. Make sure to take a swig of water after sipping on sports drinks. The water helps to wash away plaque-causing bacteria. You can also try slurping with a straw to minimize teeth contact.

As with everything, moderation is key. Choose water most of the time and sip sports drinks occasionally for a healthy smile this season.

Want to learn more? See how sports drinks ingredients compare – by sugar content, sodium, calories, carbs and more.