According to the Associated Press Gatorade will no longer be adding brominated vegetable oil to some of it’s flavors. What??? So, I had to go look at a Gatorade bottle. Sure enough, the last ingredient was brominated vegetable oil. A little more research indicated that borominated vegetable oil is a synthetic chemical that has been patented in the European Union as a flame retardant. What????? And, it’s in Gatorade????
The most concerning thing to me here is I remember when a friend’s son was struggling with his mineral balance and the doctor told him to have the boy drink one of those big Gatorade bottles every day! Yes, a doctor thought sugared, colored water with synthetic chemicals was a good choice for a small child.
Back to Gatorade and brominated vegetable oil . . .
Gatorade and Brominated Vegetable Oil:
According to Scientific American, brominated vegetable oil has been patented as a flame retardant and is found in some beverages including some flavors of Gatorade. It is “under intense scrutiny because research has shown that they are building up in people’s bodies, including breast milk, around the world.” The same article also mentions that there are “links to impaired neurological development, reduced fertility, early onset of puberty and altered thyroid hormones.” Research points to mass consumption leading to possible side effects such as skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders. Others point to reproductive issues and behavioral problems. And this chemical is in Gatorade????
Oh, by the way brominated vegetable oil has been banned in Japan and parts of Europe. So, there is enough information out there that entire countries have banned this chemical product but the USDA is not only allowing it – it’s allowed in our food supply of sodas and Gatorades!
According to PepsiCo, the company that produces Gatorade, brominated vegetable oil is an emulsifier used to distribute flavor throughout a beverage. “Brominated vegetable oil, also known as BVO, is widely used by beverage makers to help keep flavoring oils well-blended,” the site says. “Since oil does not mix well with water, emulsifiers help dissolve and keep the flavor oils evenly distributed throughout the beverage.”
Good to know that PepsiCo and Gatorade understand oil doesn’t mix with water but they are reminding us that the flavor isn’t “natural”, it’s an oil added to water.
Gatorade – Is It Really A Healthy Sports Drink Then?
I’m sure it won’t surprise you that I agree with the 2012 British Medical Journal article that investigated the sports drink industry. In it, Lindsay Abram explained why the beverages might not work as advertised:
The European Food Safety Authority upheld the claims that sports drinks hydrate better than water and help maintain performance during endurance exercise â€” but added that this did not apply to the ordinary, light exerciser. Says Tim Noakes, Discovery health chair of exercise and sports science at Cape Town University, “They are never going to study a person who trains for two hours per week, who walks most of the marathon â€” which form the majority of users of sports drinks,” and the majority of people at whom sports drinks marketing is aimed.
So here the recreational activity or even sports enthusiast is seeing Gatorade commercials touting the benefits of hydration, electrolyte replacement and enhanced performance, but it’s a lie.
The health drink/flavored water market is now a multi-billion dollar industry. There’s so many out there touting “health” benefits from energy to relaxation to offers of more concentration, faster recovery, and even hangover relief. Yet, they all basically have the same formula (sugar + flavored water + perceived health benefit).
With Gatorade, claims include recovery and hydration, using electrolytes and sugar. There is some benefit to recovery, but no more than water with a touch of sea salt and a piece of fresh fruit. And truly, are you working out at an athletic level that requires this type of instant replenishment? Most of us aren’t and Gatorade and other “health” drinks become empty calories sabotaging us.
Coconut water is a natural alternative to Gatorade that is much healthier, but be careful that it doesn’t replace regular water. It’s a good electrolyte replacement if you’re working out hard for an hour or more – otherwise water is sufficient. Another alternative is herbal teas or infusions. Again, just remember to not make these your exclusive beverages – there’s no alternative to hydrating water, just add a slice of lemon, cucumber, orange, or berries to give a sweet, tasty flavor.
I guess on the good side we should all be happy that Gatorade is taking the brominated vegetable oil out of it’s ingredients. Yet, it’s sad that this chemical was ever even allowed into Gatorade. And, thank goodness public outcry helped steer Gatorade to a somewhat healthier product. But, be safe – choose coconut water for long workouts and regular water for everything else.