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Nov 25, 2012 by MARCO TORRES
Gatorade: A Reputation In Dire Straits All Because of Bananas

Another victory for natural foods has surfaced after PepsiCo, manufacturer of Gatorade, had to partake in damage control after bananas were found to be more effective in promoting sports performance. We wouldn't want people to start buying bananas over gatorade would we?
The modest banana was found to provide the same or more health benefits during heavy exercise than high-tech sports drinks. The study released in July found that bananas were as more effective as PepsiCo sports drink Gatorade in providing nutritional support to trained cyclists during prolonged and intensive exercise.

PepsiCo launched a counter media blitz to the study contacting major outlets and insisting that a direct comparison between the drink and bananas should not be made.

Published in July, the Niemen et al. study, 'Bananas and Exercise Metabolism', found that 14 trained cyclists completed a 75km (consuming both Gatorade and the fruit separately in a crossover) time trial with no difference in performance and physiological measures.

But Katie Montiel from Gatorade Communications contacted media outlets to ensure they had the "most current information" in regard to the import of the Niemen et al. study that was covered back in July. The "most current information" meaning their own biased version of the study.

Gatorade agreed that bananas could be a good energy source, Montiel said, but it was important to note that the composition of bananas changed based upon levels of ripeness. They claimed without any counter study or scientific evidence of their own that bananas may not be an effective energy source at all levels.

"While the ripeness of bananas was appropriate in the study, the athlete would need to pay special attention to the ripeness levels during at home use," Montiel said.

So that means what exactly? That bananas don't work as effectively as gatorade? That's the real question. Gatorade wouldn't admit to that but they've tried desperately to squash this study by any means necessary as a precautionary measure, to avoid bad publicity and obviously to downplay the results. A fruit could not possibly be as effective as their sugar-loaded-artificially-flavored drink to combat fatigue, and they'll think of any excuse in the book regardless of its logic.

She added: "Athletes must also consider more than just energy: fluids, electrolytes and GI [gastro-intestinal] distress are other important factors."

Moving on to "potential limitations and issues" with the study -- some of which she said were identified by the authors -- Montiel noted that a home bicycle trainer was used for testing.

"As the trainer has a high degree of variability during extended duration use and higher intensity cycling, you may be less likely to find a difference between treatments," she said, referencing a 2005 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research article by Earnest et al .

Ok, so GI issues, the training protocol, the ripeness of the bananas and perhaps the temperature of the banana, it's country of origin and the fact that they were grown on trees that were too high, as all of these are equally as ridiculous "limitations and issues" as those proposed by Montiel. The differences had nothing to do with any inferior flaws of the gatorade drink...of course.

Montiel added: "Additionally, the subjects mentioned feeling full and bloated after consuming bananas. High fiber intake, can be found when consuming multiple bananas, may result in GI distress."

Well, perhaps we should contact the Ugandans who consume easily 15-20kg of bananas per person per month and ask them if they have GI distress since that appears to be another culprit of the evil banana according to Montiel.

She then stated, "Furthermore, it was important for active individuals to consume fluids with electrolytes -- specifically sodium lost most in sweat -- during exercise to maintain hydration.". Huh? That's why people drink water in the first place. They drink water when they're thirsty. Simply drinking a bit of water with a banana would put quite the wrench in Montiel's logic here. People definitely don't need gatorade to replace water as a source of hydration. Surely Montiel or Gatorade are not implying this, or are they?

Finally, after a series of contradicitons, ridiculous arguments and futile attempts to discard the effectiveness of bananas, rather than focus on potential flaws of their junk beverage, Montiel said that bananas were a potential energy source, and could perhaps be used in tandem with sports drinks to provide athletes with the correct nutrients during exercise. Sarcasm let's not dump the gatorade for bananas people. We must use them together to provide the "correct" nutrition during exercise? Can you say desperation mode?

Did you know Gatorade is almost as corrosive as coke? Researchers at the University of Iowa's College of Dentistry found that energy drinks and sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Red Bull, eroded the enamel more than soda and fruit juices. In a 2008 study published in the journal Nutrition Research, the dentists soaked extracted human teeth in various liquids for 25 hours, and then measured the structural changes, or lesions.

"Power drinks can be quite acidic, usually because there is an addition of citric acid to those to give it tartness that is desired by some consumers," said Dr. Clark Stanford, the associate dean for research at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. "It's important to look at the label and see if citric acid has been added."

Public health advocates want the standards to ban the sale of Gatorade and Powerade, which typically contain as much as two-thirds the sugar of sodas and more sodium, as well as sweetened waters such as VitaminWater and SoBe Life Water. Excessive sodium intake by young people could fuel a surge in high blood pressure, which until recently was considered a health threat only in later life.

Nutritionists also warn of excessive salt consumption among more sedentary students. A 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade contains approximately 275 milligrams of sodium, almost 12 percent of the recommended daily allowance for people ages 14 to 18. Already, more than 75 percent of children consume more than the recommended 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day, according to the Institute of Medicine.

A Natural Hydrator That Matches ALL Sports Beverages

The rehydrating powers of coconut water match those of a carbohydrate-electrolyte sports beverage. Pure coconut water was just as effective as coconut water from concentrate and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink at rehydrating exercise-trained men after a 60-minute bout of dehydrating exercise, according to findings published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

If you want to feed your body fuel, stick to something natural, not a sugar/sodium loaded beverage whose manufacturer only cares about one thing, profits and NOT your health. And they'll say anything to make you believe the opposite.

Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.

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