Guest blog by Bree Jenner from The Health & Wellbeing Studio

After training, having a source of carbohydrate is needed to help fuel energy depleted muscles, and reducing inflammation.  This is delivered as glucose or simple sugars in sports drinks that can be used rapidly by the body, but if used incorrectly (too much or too often), can contribute to inflammation, metabolic or behavioral issues in kids, tooth decay and may increase the risk of kidney damage due to the high amounts of sodium if consumed in excess.  The sugar free options often contain artificial sweeteners that can still affect metabolism, and impact gut health.

Half a banana contains the same amount of carbohydrate as 1 cup of sports drink.  The sugar found in bananas is fructose, which is also a simple sugar, but has the addition of other nutrients such as fibre that help to moderate the absorption of the sugar, but also helps to nourish the gut, and a host of other benefits.

Research showed that a study of 20 athletes that had been involved in a 75km bike ride recovered best by eating half a banana every 30 minutes throughout the ride.  The athletes were separated into 3 groups and given water, 250ml of a sports drink, or about half a banana at 30minute intervals, and their blood work was studied for inflammatory markers and metabolites.  Those who drank plain water had the highest levels of inflammatory markers immediately after the ride (outlining the importance of refueling as well as rehydrating after intense exercise), whilst those who were given the sports drink or the banana had much lower readings of these markers.  However, those who were given the banana produced less COX-2 enzymes, which prompt the production of prostaglandins, which can increase the intensity of the inflammatory process (to put into perspective, anti-inflammatory drugs work to inhibit these COX-2 enzymes).

In addition to these results, sports drinks are often loaded with artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives and they have vitamins and minerals put back in, which can each have their own negative impact on health.  Whereas bananas are pre-loaded with natural carbohydrates, plant nutrients, and vitamins and minerals including potassium, essential for rehydrating and repairing damaged caused by strenuous exercise.  Bananas also come in their own biodegradable, compostable, BPA and phthalate free packaging!

Thanks to Bree Jenner from the Health & Wellbeing Studio for her contribution to our blog today!

Bree Jenner – Naturopath


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