Water is the best hydration source

“I am so thirsty!” is a very familiar phrase expressed by people after they’ve completed strenuous physical activities.

Playing sports, working, logging some miles on the bicycle, running in the park and taking walks are forms of exercise that afterward require hydration. Although there are many drinks to choose from, the best source of hydration for children, adolescents and adults is water.

When it comes to staying hydrated — particularly if you or your child play sports — there’s a dizzying array of juices and sports drinks from which to choose. Flavored beverages such as Gatorade or Powerade contain carbohydrates, minerals, electrolytes and sweeteners.

A study published by theAmericanAcademyof Pediatrics in May 2011 says that sports drinks are intended to replace water and electrolytes that are lostthroughsweatingduring exercise. The drinks can help if an athlete is exercising vigorously for more than an hour or completing in a tournament on a hot, humid day. However, in most cases, sports drinks are not necessary on the sports field or in the school lunchroom.

Water tends to be less expensive and more available than any other drink. Fluoride — a substance found naturally in water — also plays an important role in healthy tooth development and cavity prevention.

Dr. Holly Benjamin, co-author of the May 2011 sports drink study said, “For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best. Sports drinks contain extra calories children don’t need; they can contribute to obesity and tooth decay. It is better for children to drink water during and after exercise routines. And appropriate intakes of juice and milk are recommended with meals — not sports drinks.”

Children should minimize how often they drink carbohydrate-containing sports drinks because they can increase the risk of weight-gain and obesity as well as dental erosion, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. Athletes most often consume sports drinks after exercise when the volume and protective effects of saliva are reduced. The 2011 study explained that acids in sports drinks can even erode fluoride-rich tooth enamel, which can lead to cavities.

Yes, water — not sport drinks — should be the main source of hydration for people of all ages. In general, we need to drink four to six ounces of water for every 15 to 20 minutes of exercise. If you do consume sports drinks limit your consumption and substitute a less acidic beverage, reduce the frequency and contact time, swallow immediately and do not swish around the mouth, rinse mouth guards only in water and talk to your dentist about training and how to stay hydrated.

Information for this article was provided by the Wisconsin Dental Association. Visit WDA.org for more information on this and other dental health topics.

Dr. Laura Rammer is a member of the Sheboygan County Dental Access Committee