Sports and Energy Drinks May Be Hazardous To Your Health

…specifically, the health of your teeth, that is.A recent study published in the Journal of General Dentistry found that energy and sports drinks contain so much sugar and acid that they start destroying teeth after only five days of consistent use. Thirty to 50 percent of American teens use energy drinks, the paper says, and up to 62 percent drink sports energy drinks at least once a day.Any beverage that has high acid content can weaken the enamel, making the teeth more susceptible to bacteria that can sneak into the cracks and crevices in the teeth. Sugar can exacerbate the situation, encouraging the bacterial growth, according to Kimberly Harms, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association. “Sugar is bad, and acid is bad, but many of these [sports] drinks have both. The combination causes tooth decay,” Damage to enamel can cause teeth to become sensitive to touch and temperature changes, and be more susceptible to cavities and decay.Sports_Energy_Drinks_s“Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than soda,” said Poonam Jain, lead author of the study. “Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.”Jain and colleagues analyzed the acidity, pH and fluoride of 13 different sports energy drinks and nine energy drinks (including Gatorade and Red Bull) by submerging samples of human tooth enamel in each beverage for 15 minutes. They then immersed the samples in artificial saliva for two hours. This was repeated four times a day for five days and observed damage to the enamel at the end of the five days.According to the research, energy drinks were the worst culprits. While acid levels vary among brands and flavors of energy drinks, they caused twice as much damage as the sports drinks.“Bacteria convert sugar to acid, and it’s the acid bath that damages enamel, not the sugar directly,” according to Dr. David Katz, the director of the Yale Prevention Center. “So by incorporating a high acid load in a drink, we are just cutting out the middleman on the way to tooth decay.”These drinks are glorified sodas, with as much or more sugar, said Katz.So the next time when you’re reaching for a sports or energy drink, consider water instead. It just may be better for your health!SOURCES: Academy of General Dentistry, news release, May 1, 2012

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