Nutrition Articles

Understanding the Sport Drinks Craze
Joy Lasseter, Ph.D. Nutritionist, Speaker, Author, Success Coach
         Have you noticed how many beverage companies are now producing their own sports drinks? With so many choices, how do your know which ones are best?
         I read the label first. (Take a magnifier to the store. The print is shrinking!) I want to know how many of the 8 electrolytes are in the product. I don't want to see: food coloring (usually chemicals), other additives or flavorings (more chemicals). You need about 25 to 30 grams of carbohydrates for re-fueling tired muscles. (Don't choose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, cane or table sugar, which can cause nausea, cramping, stomachaches and deplete minerals.) I prefer crystalline fructose. Cheaper products offer fewer electrolytes. (When reading labels, multiply sodium grams by 1.2 to get the accurate grams of salt.)
         What are electrolytes and why does your body need them? They are substances that form electrically charged particles or ions in your body fluids. They maintain body fluid balance, heart performance, nerve impulses, muscle contraction and relaxation. Bicarbonate, chloride, potassium and sodium are lost when we sweat.         
         Bicarbonate helps balance the pH of the body. Calcium, magnesium and potassium balance fluids in your muscles. An imbalance of electrolytes can cause muscle cramps. A magnesium deficiency can cause heart attacks in athletes of any age while competing. Additional salt tablets are needed in prolonged (2 hours or more) heavy sweating sports. In a placebo study, tri-athletes who took a dose of 4 salt tablets three times during their half Iron Man, in addition to their sports drink, finished 26 minutes faster than the placebo group without salt tablets! Athletes need more concentrated doses of minerals and high quality nutrients for sports and competitions.
         When the sodium levels are too high there is water retention, which can raise blood pressure. Potassium helps balance cell fluids. Dehydration can cause headaches in addition to muscle cramps and mental confusion. Phosphorus is needed to retain calcium. Food sources of minerals that make electrolytes are in plants and animals. Eat organic vegetables, wild caught fish, wild game, pasture raised poultry and grass fed meats.
         Electrolytes aren't just for athletes. Use them when gardening, bicycle riding, working out, going on long Summer walks or recovering from illness. Avoid bright colored ones that contain excess sugar, artificial sweeteners or caffeine! Choose your drink wisely and avoid all the side effects of the wrong ingredients. 

Disclaimer – Do you have a disease or use medications? Follow your doctor’s recommendation for your condition. Dr. Joy custom designs nutrition programs for individuals, provides seminars for companies and conferences, teaches nutrition workshops and sells high quality Metagenics medical and functional food supplements. (Click "Why Supplements" tab for more info.)

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The foods you choose each day will determine your future health: energy, stamina, mental focus, physical mobility, and longevity.

Make wise food choices every day! 
Dr. Joy

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