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Dr. Ayala

Dr. Ayala
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
V.P. Product Development
Herbal Water
I’m a physician (Pediatrics and Medical Genetics), artist, and mother of 3 school age active kids. I recently co-founded Herbal Water Inc. (www.herbalwater.com) with my husband, Albert. I am a serious home cook, and love to entertain. My expertise is vegetarian food (I have been a vegetarian all my life). I strongly believe that eating healthy and enjoying good food go hand in hand. My main interests are science, nutrition and art, and I am overall a very curious person that tries to learn something new every day. Dr. Ayala (Ayala Laufer-Cahana M.D.)


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Editor’s Pick
JUNE 22, 2011 8:19AM

Pediatricians Warn Against Energy and Sports Drinks

Rate: 3 Flag

Energy and sports drinks are aggressively marketed to kids and teens. Not only is engaging in a sports activity – however casually and briefly – a reason to “rehydrate” with a sports drink, kids are now encouraged to consume sports drinks before, during and after thinking of moving a muscle. Sports drinks are sold in many school’s vending machines, and judging by ads for energy drinks our young ones couldn’t stay alert or study were it not for shot after shot of energy in liquid form.

Are these drinks of any benefit?

The American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) committee on nutrition and council on sports medicine and fitness reviewed the scientific literature and consulted with many experts for its new clinical report on sports and energy drinks. In order to clear some of the confusion around these products the report starts with a few definitions and ingredient lists:

Sports Drinks - these contain sugars (2-20 grams of sugar per 8 oz serving, or 30-200 calories per bottle), electrolytes (sodium, potassium), minerals (calcium, magnesium), flavoring and sometimes vitamins. They are supposed rehydrate and replace water and electrolytes lost during exercise.

Energy Drinks - these contain sugars (0-31 grams of sugar per 8 oz serving, or 10-270 calories per container) stimulants, such as taurine, guarana and caffeine, vitamins and other supplements. Energy drinks deliver stimulants, which supposedly improve performance.

Sports drinks: For serious athletes playing prolonged, vigorous sports in a the heat

For all non-prolonged less exhausting occasions the AAP report warns that the extra calories in sports drinks may lead to extra body weight, and the combined sugar and acid in them causes dental erosion.

As for the heavily marketed beneficial and functional ingredients in sports drinks: electrolytes are plentiful in food, protein and amino acids as well as vitamins are plentiful in food, and the specific amino acids added to sports and energy drinks to enhance performance (glutamine, arginine, taurine) have not been proven beneficial by good clinical trials.

Energy drinks: Totally unsuitable for kids and teens

The report stresses that energy drinks “pose potential health risks primarily because of stimulant content; therefore, they are not appropriate for children and adolescents and should never be consumed.”

Eliminate sugary drinks: Drink water!

The expert panel concludes:

“Given the current epidemic of childhood overweight and obesity, we recommend the elimination of calorie containing beverages from a well balanced diet, with the exception of low-fat or fat-free milk, because it contains calcium and vitamin D, which are particularly important for young people.”


We're very far off from the AAP's target: A recent CDC survey found that one in four high school kids drink soda every day and two in three drink a sugary drink every day. This is actually an improvement -- in previous surveys three-quarters of kids reported drinking a sugary drink each day.

When celebrity athletes drink sugary drinks in ads they do it because they’re paid handsomely to do just that. In real life star athletes usually treat their bodies like a temple. I’m pretty sure they watch what they eat quite carefully, and maximize their potential by eating well. An image that better reflects an athlete’s genuine eating habits is Rafael Nadal’s on-court water and banana combo (Nadal’s often seen snacking on a ripe banana between sets).

A sports drink with breakfast and lunch doesn’t make an athlete – it just makes kids poorly nourished and fat.

Dr. Ayala

Full disclosure: I’m vice president of product development for Herbal Water, where we make organic herb-infused waters that have zero calories and no sugar or artificial ingredients. I’m also a pediatrician and have been promoting good nutrition and healthy lifestyle for many years.


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I am sending this to my cousin whose son plays intensive little league baseball
A rating of one and one comment and voila this makes the front page. No reason to wonder why. It covers one of the "Stations of the Cross" for the Left: Health. It also covers another: telling other people how to raise their kids.

Sugar is not evil. 100 calories of it or 200 is not a big deal. I suspect, but then I respect individual liberty, that most athletes can "feel" so to speak, what they need. I always could. I also suspect that most parents can figure out what they want and should let their kids drink.
Congrats on another automatic Editor Pick.
Michelle Obama needs to read you. I'll email.
'Mountain Dew' had 220 spoonfuls of sugar.
I have a Amish contact. Try BIOTTA drinks.
They are from Switzerland. USDA organic.
The product comes in beet, carrot, vegetable,
sauerkraut, etc., It's an amazing organic beverage.
I think you can google it. bio.inspecta AG / it's 100%`
wellness juice.
It's expensive.
I get a bottle.
I buy by cases.
It's $50 to me.
But, it's legal.
Retail is $4.00.
Biottainc.com /
I may gargle too.
You never comment.
You get EP every time.
You Kerry's daughter?
I just showered. Howdy.
Sugar isn't evil. No chemical compound is evil. Sugar isn't good. Diabetes is very real and very bad and diabetes is often caused by excess sugar in the diet. Sugar causes many short term problems ranging from depression to memory loss. Using sugar as a flavoring compound is one thing. Using it as an energy source is different and deadly.

Case closed on sugar.
Re: responder BJ: No one is telling anyone what to do. Since when is a council on pediatrics in cahoots with Michelle Obama? Were they just formed during this administration? Didn't George Bush's admin have such councils that gave warnings and advice on products that were not healthy for kids? Was Laura Bush's reading program forcing our children to read certain books also? I don't understand this position. You read that the sugar and stimulants aren't good for your kids and you either give it to them or you don't. Simple. I for one am glad to get the info. There is no evil plot to infiltrate your home, are you against warnings on cigarettes too? How about asbestos warnings? radon? maybe we should go back to the good all days when we just died younger and no one warned anyone, the cigarette companies and asbestos manufacturers and the like just swept it under the rug.
You know, I'm not sure we ever overcome a marketing Goliath like this one. I think to many people it seems like it should be true that sports drinks are better than water. How gullible does that make us, I wonder.
Rita, I didn't say the pediatric organization was in cahoots with anyone. Don't know why you assumed that, but it is not what I wrote, nor, by the way, is it what I implied. I do suspect, and it is only a suspicion, that the good doctor would be happy to see various soft drinks forbidden in schools - her comments on school vending machines leads me in that direction, but I'd be thrilled to see that I'm wrong and happy to see her write that she doesn't approve of such drinks, that some of her peers don't, but that, natch, it is up to parents to determine what their kiddies should consume in school.
Rita, I didn't say there was an evil plot to infiltrate my home.

BTW, the info. about ciggies has been out there for a LONG time. I rather doubt we need warnings on packs.

And, like I said, when the doctor mentions vending machines, I suspect she is leaning toward them NOT being able to sell things like the evil COKE!!!!

I also think that most of us who are part of the great unwashed can figure out - and did so long ago - what we should eat and drink.

The idea that we need to doctor to tell us is really patronizing.

And, again, no mention of Mrs. Obama by me here. You must be thinking of another writer or you have an overly active imagination.

BTW, I hate it when ANY administration - a topic you, by the way raised and not I (!) - "lectures" us on our bodies and health. It is not the business of JFK's admin. either Bueshes, the Obamas, the Fords, etc. I'm an equal-opportunity hater of busybodies and those who don't quite get it about being free to handle these things - including getting information (don't need the government's help there either ) myself.
Typo - meant "Bushes" .. Bye Rita. Go put words in some other person's "mouth".
Rita, I am not a big government supporter, but I don't think, much as I think such program's a waste of money and an insult to our intelligence, that Mrs. Bush's reading program "FORCED" (your word) us to read anything.

Wow, looks like you're the one overly upset! Go have a coke and mellow out.

And sugar, per se, is not BAD for most people. Good God. Where do you all get this stuff?

Bah, bah.
I should have typed... "much as I think such programs" in my last comment. I'm part of the great unwashed that needs help with my food choices, but I can spell, unless I've had too much sugar!