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February 2024
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Sports Drinks like Gatorade Harsh on Teeth, Study Finds

Gatorade Gat-o-rot? 

If given the choice between two kinds of drinks, soda or Gatorade, which do you think is the better option?

Soda is loaded with sugar and empty calories and offers zero nutritional value.  Gatorade, while it too contains sugar, has at least has some nutritional value, being fortified with potassium, phosphorus and sodium.

But you may be surprised to know that the correct answer is soda!  Why, you ask?  Just ask your dentist – he knows.  But if by chance you don’t have a dental check-up scheduled, read on.

According to tests done by a dentistry professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore Dental School, it’s due to the high acidity of sports drinks.  Yes, sugary sodas are highly acidic as well, but the acidity levels in sports drinks are so high that drinking them can spell irreversible damage for your teeth.

“Sip [sports drinks] all day, and you’re not going to have any teeth left,” said University of Alabama at Birmingham professor Dr. John Ruby.  Ruby has performed similar tests in the past and reached similar conclusions.

Measuring the acidity of liquids is done by measuring their pH levels.  Though it sounds counterintuitive, the lower the pH level, the more acidic the drink is.  Any drink with a pH lower than four, and it’s enough to rot your teeth.  All of the sodas and energy drinks tested were lower than four.  The best of the worst?  Root beer.

As for the test itself, Dr. Anthony von Fraunhofer  placed false teeth into cups filled with either soda, water, fitness water, sports drinks (like Gatorade), or energy drinks (like Red Bull).  After 14 days of soaking, the teeth that lost the most enamel were those doused in the sports and energy drinks.   The worst of the worst?  KMX – an energy drink from The Coca-Cola Company.  Nipping at KMX’ heals on the worst of the worst list were Gatorade and Red Bull. 

Dr. von Fraunhofer also tested alcoholic drinks.  Wine weighed in at a 3 on the pH scale, well within the rot-your-teeth zone; beer, on the other hand, scored an acceptable 7 on the pH scale.

The good doctor of the study said that if you must drink sports drinks, drink them through a straw, as they’re less likely to touch the surface of your teeth that way.  Even better, use sports drinks for their primary purpose:  to replace the electrolytes lost through sweat after exercise.

I have an even better recommendation:  don’t drink them at all.  While Gatorade may provide taste, it doesn’t provide the kind of hydration water provides, despite what their commercials say.  Studies done by a host of researchers confirm this.  And if you’re looking for taste, spritzing water up with some sliced lemon or lime is a much healthier alternative, free of the harmful chemicals that citric and phosphorus acids bring to flavored beverages.  Want the sodium that Gatorade provides?  Sprinkle in a touch of unrefined organic sea salt and stir.

The only thing Gatorade has that water doesn’t is a catchy name.  Whatever happened to calling water Adam’s Ale?

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