After an intense workout session, most of us tend to consume sports drinks to hydrate. There are many people who believe that these beverages can increase the risk of developing kidney stones since they have higher levels of sodium. Nevertheless, there is no scientific research that proves this is true.
Sports drinks are supposed to help people replenish with a long list of minerals that are lost due to perspiration. Most of the times, athletes tend to develop kidney stones and other health problems because they don’t hydrate properly and not because they frequently consume sports drinks.
In this article, Joe Cosgrove will share some facts about sports drinks and their impact on the potential formation of kidney stones. This way, they next time you use Gatorade, Powerade or any of these drinks you will know how your kidneys will react.
Kidney Stones in Brief
As it has been said before in this blog, kidney stones are mineral crystals that can form inside your kidneys due to numerous factors, such as dehydration, genetic predisposition, the consumption of certain types of medicine or the high intake of certain substances in your daily diet.
There are different types of kidney stones, and one of them is caused by the high intake of sodium. Thanks to this, consuming sports drinks have been considered as one of the main responsible causes to develop the stones. The reason to this is that when people consume sports drinks their urinary output augments and so the chances of crystals binding together inside your kidneys.
The average person should consume 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day (maximum). In the United States, the average person consumes up to 3,300 milligrams of sodium. Thanks to this, most people in the U.S. has higher chances of developing the stones without even drinking a sports drink. The consumed sodium usually comes in the shape of highly processed food like canned soups or fast food.
High sodium intakes make it easier for people to develop kidney stones made of calcium. This is why most doctors recommend to have a diet low in salt and consuming at least 2 liters of water a day. In this sense, sports drinks are not considered to be harmful, given the fact that most parts of the sodium people consume comes from canned soups, salty snacks, processed food and packaged meals, and not from sports drinks.
In general, a sports drink is made of minerals, electrolytes, carbohydrates and flavoring. The main goal of this type of drink is to help the body recover the lost electrolytes after practicing a sport for a long period of time. Each drink has its own characteristics, and so, one can find a few that have 110 milligrams of sodium per bottle and others that only count on 55 milligrams.
If we keep in mind, that a person’s maximum sodium intake per day should be up to 2,400 milligrams, consuming a sports drink shouldn’t represent and issue or increase the possibilities of developing kidney stones.
What Does Science Say?
In 2008 a research on urology showed that an adult could drink almost a liter of sports drinks per day without developing any risk of getting kidney stones. The study showed that the calcium or sodium levels in the urine did not augment and urine chemistry remained the same.
This way, it was concluded that consuming sports drinks does not increase the probabilities of developing kidney stones. However, it is important to notice that not all sports drinks are the same and not all bodies react in the same way to the same substances.
Many specialists seem to believe that the best way to recover after working out is to consume plain water. This way, you will replenish fluids and electrolytes without increasing the calorie consumption. It doesn’t matter what kind of person you are or if you practice sports every day, you must keep yourself hydrated in order to prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Some athletes prefer sports drinks over water when it comes to preventing dehydration and replenishing nutrients. The reason to this is that these drinks are made of numerous minerals (including electrolytes). When you spend many hours per day practicing a sport, one of the main risks you face is losing all these minerals. So, athletes need to find a balanced place that allows them to stay healthy in every possible way.
Sweating a lot can cause dehydration, that will eventually lead to kidney stone formation. Losing fluids without replenishing them can cause the body to collapse in several ways, including osteoporosis. Sports drinks help to get all the lost minerals back in the system without modifying the chemical substances present in the urine. For this, it hasn’t been proved that they increase the chances of developing kidney stones.
* Featured Image courtesy of Mike Mozart at Flickr.com