Are Your Sports Drinks Healthy? What You Must Do Right Now!

August 9, 2014

in Ask Dr Lisa, Family Health



Dr. Lisa, my son plays a few sports and I dislike giving him sports drinks with dyes in it. I am not sure if these drinks are healthy, but do not know what else I can give him to help re-hydrate on the field, especially in the heat.  Is there a natural healthy alternative that you suggest? ” ~ Robert

Sports drinks are one of those beverages I just cringe when I see kids drinking them.

Now,I get the love behind a parent giving them to a child. I understand that you are focused on the importance of hydrating and providing electrolytes to the body during your child’s athletic game or time of play. Good heart. Understandable purpose.

Not a healthy choice to do. Let me explain.

Conventional sports drinks are laden with harmful chemicals and additives that act as toxins in the body. In fact, many are linked to severe health problems such as allergic and intolerant reactions, memory loss, ADD/ADHD, skin lesions and other neurological issues. Truly, no child or adult should be ingesting or supporting these conventional sports drinks and their companies, but most definitely not an overtilted child who already has a nervous system that struggles to regulate itself accordingly.

Ok, let’s take a closer look at WHY we need to make this HUGE dietary change.



Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, and Green 3 are derived from coal tar  and petroleum, and according to the Center of Science in Public Interest (CSPI) have or have been contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals.  The British Food Standards Agency in 2001 concluded after a study that 6 dyes/colorants and sodium benzoate were linked to increasing hyperactivity and ADD in children. As a result, the European Union Law required all beverages with these 6 dyes to have warning labels that consumption can lead to hyperactivity.

A study reported by The Lancet  in 2007  by Southampton University and funded by the UK Food Standards Industry linked artificial dyes to increasing hyperactivity rates in all children, not just children with ADD/ADHD. This study supported the claims that food additives can exacerbate hyperactivity (inattention, impulstivity, and overactivity) in children from pre-school to middle school ages. . In 2008 the CSPI decided to phase out 8 dyes which stated some have potential cancer causing chemicals. Many of these dyes/colorants are used in common foods such as cheese, ketchup, hot dogs as well as soft drinks, candies and sports drinks. The dye orange B is reported to be used in hot dogs and sausage casings and banned in Canada as toxic. Blue 1, Red40, and Yellows 5 & 6 have been linked with allergic reactions. In fact, Yellow 5 (which is a bright yellow coal tar dye and is also called Tartrazine) is prohibited in Norway and Finland.

If this is not crazy enough to know our children are drinking such toxic soft drinks (and eating toxic foods), US companies such as Kraft, Cocoa Cola, and Walmart have removed many of these toxic dyes/colorants in Europe immediately upon the release of the Southampton study. Unfortunately, the USA has allowed such companies to laden our foods and drinks with such dangerous additives. Madness, I know!

“This study (Southhampton) provides evidence of deleterious effects of artificial food colors and additives on children’s behavior with data from a whole population sample,” the authors wrote, “using a combination of robust objective measures with strong ecological validity, based partly on observations in the classroom and ratings of behavior made independently by teachers and by parents in the different context of the home and applying double-blinded challenges with quantities of additives equal to typical dietary intakes.” (

Perhaps if we, the consumers, learn and speak up, we can make huge changes in the drinks and foods offered today in the USA. For now, we must be vigilant in removing these dyes from our drinks and food choices. Sports drinks are a culprit. Let’s lean in and tackle this one!


Wikipedia defines artificial flavoring as “substances not identified in a natural product intended for human consumption, whether or not the product is processed. These are typically produced by fractional distillation and additional chemical manipulation of naturally sourced chemicals, crude oil or coal tar.” I find it easy to understand that artificial flavoring means the flavoring of foods with artificial ingredients which are synthetic and toxic to the body. Avoid these at all costs!

However, I find the meaning of “natural flavoring”  to be ambiguous and misleading. Wikipedia defines natural flavoring as  “substances obtained from plant or animal raw materials, by physical, microbiological or enzymatic processes. They can be either used in their natural state or processed for human consumption, but cannot contain any nature-identical or artificial flavoring substances.” Natural flavoring leads us to believe the food is flavored with natural healthy ingredients and is safe. Unfortunately, this is not true.

There are many food items on the shelves that read “all natural” or “natural flavoring”, but are actually loaded with harmful toxic chemicals, many of which cause diseases.  In fact, “natural flavoring” can mean gultamate ,MSG, autolyzed  yeast, hydrolyzed soy protein, artificial sweeteners, L- Cysteine (usually from duck feathers and human hair), GMOs, anal secretions, and other unhealthy ingredients.  Yikes!

“The FDA definition of “natural flavors” and “natural flavoring” allows for the substance to be extracted from plant or animal “matter.” So when you buy something and it has “natural flavoring,” you could be eating a pig, cow, turkey, chicken, or lamb which was shot up with growth hormones, fed GMO pesticide-laden corn and grain – probably mixed with other animals of it’s same breed, then shot up with antibiotics due to infections and diseases from living in confined quarters on slats covered in feces.” (

Unfortunately, our FDA allows this trickery of allowing harmful and gross ingredients to be termed as “natural flavoring”. You read the above paragraph correctly.  Anal secretions from a beaver’s butt is also considered “natural flavoring.” This item is called castoreum which is natural in nature, but questionable on so many levels. Why would putting beaver anal secretions to flavor our food be acceptable? This is not my idea of natural. Are you grossed out yet?


Sports drinks are loaded with sugar. The content is quite high and truly unnecessary. We also must look at the type of sugar and where this source is purchased from. For example, sources such as glucose, dextrose, maltose, fructose, highly processed high fructose corn syrup, corn starches and other sugar variants can be derived from corn which may be derived from GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) which  have been linked to serious health problems such as tumors in rats. Conventional sports drinks are not on the NON GMO PROJECT list which is a great tool to know which products are safe to purchase as GMO free. Also, check out the  Invisible GM Ingredient list which may contain GMOs  depending on where the source/ingredient comes from. Sugar content and source is very important for a healthy body and nervous system and in the prevention of diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. The body reacts differently to chemically processed sugars than wholesome organic sugars.

A hyperactive and overtilted  nervous system needs to avoid drinks and foods with high processed sugar contents.


Salt is used in sports drinks as an electrolyte, but the type and amount of salt is unhealthy. In fact, many salts today on the market  (in our drinks and foods) are highly processed and lack the ability to provide essential minerals and trace minerals needed by the body. Instead, conventional sports drinks load the body with high salt, sugar and harmful dyes to create a toxic playground for havoc and disease to run wild within  the body.


As if a drink loaded with toxic dyes and high salt and sugar content is not bad enough, companies love to put their blue colored demon drinks in plastic bottles which are laden with harmful chemicals also. Plastic bottles are derived from petroleum and leach harmful chemicals into the very liquid they hold. Such chemicals are linked to creating hormonal havoc such as estrogen displacement within the body and thus, creating cancer. And, as if enough harm is not being done, these nasty bottles create havoc on Mother Earth. Yuck.

Most of the on- the- go water bottles are #1 and are reported to leach harmful chemicals into the water. These are considered to be  PET plastics which leach things like petroleum and hormone disrupting chemicals BPA s. BPAs have been linked to breast and uterine cancer, a decrease in testosterone in men  and type 2 diabetes. BPA is high in the #7 type plastic bottles. The numbers claimed to be safe are #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene), #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene) or #5 PP (polypropylene), but most water bottles are usually a #1. Water coolers are usually a #7 which are found to also leach harmful chemicals. I personally don’t drink from any water bottles unless there is not a choice. A bottle of nasty for sure.

Now, I am sure this in not what a mother or father intends to give their child as they go off to play. It truly is not hugs and giggles for the overtilted child either. Re-hydrating does not have to be harmful. In fact, I will share with you a very simple, healthy and sustainable way to provide hydration, electrolytes and balance to your child’s body and our Mother Earth. Your child’s body, mind, spirit  and nervous system will thank you!


As many of you may know, I LOVE to teach how to make simple healthy changes in food choices and lifestyle. On Dr. Lisa TV  you will find informative videos full of tremendous support and solutions on how to overcome the difficult Autism Spectrum challenges at home, life and in school. And, I try to make it all  rocket launching fun. Here are some of my healthy lifestyle tips:

1. Drink Filtered Water

This simple choice is way better than sports drinks or soft drinks. Make sure the water is not from bottled water due to the chemicals that leach into the water from the plastic. To learn more about plastic water bottles, you can visit my article here.

2. Use Organic and NON GMO Pink Himalayan Sea Salt for Electrolytes

 If you put 1/3 tsp of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt to 3 cups of filtered water, you will be adding up to 84 trace minerals and minerals to the water. In doing so, you have created an easy, healthy sports drinks with electrolytes. I love this brand here.

3. Use a Healthy Sport Bottle

 Ditch the harmful plastic bottles and refer to my article above as to what plastics are safe to use as sport bottles. Try to use a plastic and eco- friendly bottle. I personally love the Lifefactory bottles which are glass with a silicone cover for protection and come in many colors. However, my kids love this kind here.

4. Add Natural 100% Fruit to Filtered Water

 You can add real fruits to the water to add vitamins, flavor and sweetness. Try adding slices of strawberries, raspberries, lemons, limes or cucumbers. Make sure the fruits are organic if you are putting the skins of the fruits in the water. You also can add 100% certified organic juice to the water to taste instead of actual fruits. I do not store our sports drink or any beverage in plastic containers in the fridge. Instead I use a glass pitcher like this one here.

5. Add a Natural Sweeter

You can add a natural sweeter if your sports drink is not sweet enough. Make sure this sweetener is truly wholesome and organic. Try certified organic raw honey or local bought (do not give honey to a child under the age of 12 months old), organic sugar or Stevia.


A recent study compared filtered water with sea salt, conventional sports drinks and coconut water usage in athletes. All produced the same results in performance and hydration. Although the safety of the ingredients of products used was not taken into account, this study showed that filtered water with sea salt and coconut water is just as effective in hydration and performance as a conventional sports drinks. Simply make sure the coconut water is certified organic and Non-GMO. Dig in and shine beautifully!

 Try my following Homemade Sports Drink Recipes below:

If you are ready to learn more about drinking and eating healthy, join my 7 Day How to Eat Healthy Quickstart, a free step-by-step email challenge to help you start to eat the right way. It may be time to clean up your food choices!

Your in Health and Happiness,

Resources: *Always read my disclaimer and photo credits are given to Dr. Lisa. This page contains affiliate links meaning we earn a commission if you use those links. We only recommend brands we use and trust.;

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Hannah Ransom August 9, 2014

This is so important! Sports drinks are one of those things that may *seem* like a healthy choice but really are anything but. Thanks for pointing this out and offering healhty alternatives for those who need more than just water sometimes.

Julia August 10, 2014

What a great article! I have made ‘Ayurvedic’ rehydration drinks in the past using Himalayan Salt, palm sugar, lime juice and water. And I LOVE coconut water too! Thanks for sharing your simple and healthy ideas.

Dr. Lisa August 11, 2014

Thank you for your support. I could not agree with you more! Sports drinks are one of those things that just gets me upset. For so many years, I didn’t even question them until one day I just thought to research what was in them. Since then, I have never drank one, bought one or supported the companies who make them. My kids agree with me and we just never have looked back. ~ Dr. Lisa

Dr. Lisa August 12, 2014

Thank you for your kind words. I love your rehydration drink too! I truly feel we need to educate as many parents as possible about what we are really feeding our kids, especially all those colored sports drinks that are so unhealthy. We need to start healing them from the kitchen, so to speak. Glad to meet another mom with the same thinking. I am excited to check out your website too! ~Dr. Lisa

Tyra September 9, 2014

Great article on sports drinks! Thank you for sharing the natural sports drink recipe! I’m going to get that pink Himalayan salt and try this out!

Dr. Lisa September 10, 2014

Tyra, When I discovered homemade sports drinks recipes my family and I have never gone back! The Pink Himalayan Salt is amazing. I hope you enjoy and share any recipes you make on your own discovery! ~Dr. Lisa

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