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Getting brominated vegetable oil linked to fire retardant out of sports drinks

Do you really need emulsifiers in your beverages? You may wish to check out some of the May 5, 2014 news articles such as, "Brominated vegetable oil removed from Powerade ingredient list," and "Chemical shaming? Coke removes ingredient from Powerade after teen's online petition." In this case, a teenager pressured the marketplace and had a voice of confidence and resilience in the huge marketplace that supposedly runs on supply and demand. Consumer demand has won its voice, for now, when it pertains to this particular issue.

Getting brominated vegetable oil linked to fire retardant out of sports drinks.
Getting brominated vegetable oil linked to fire retardant out of sports drinks.Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Coca Cola removed the ingredient known as brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from Powerade and the rest of its products after a Mississippi teenager’s online petition against brominatated vegetable oil (BVO) obtained more than 200,000 signatures. Why remove the ingredient? Because it has been linked to fire retardant. Who wants fire retardant in a beverage? You also may wish to see the AOL video, "Big Companies Financed Sports Drink Hyped."

Brominated vegetable oil also can cause major health issues

People still can't understand that clean, filtered water still is healthier than sweetened sports drinks. But athletes want to replace electrolytes so fast, they won't spend the time mixing their own sports drinks from water and various electrolytes needed by the body.

To prepare a cold drink, first cook a half cup of amaranth in water until it's chewy. Then put it in a blender with an apple, orange, celery, mango chunks, pomegranate juice, 2 tablespoons of flax seeds, and unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk or coconut water. Puree into a smoothie, and drink or freeze as sorbet. Yummy. There's no chemical ingredients such as bromine in the type of smoothie or sorbet you can put together yourself if you have a blender. But do most people want to take the time to make their own sports beverages?

If consumed in large amounts, bromine can hurt your health

The article, "Chemical shaming? Coke removes ingredient from Powerade after teen's online petition" mentions, but also can apparently cause some nasty health problems when consumed in vast quantities. In 1997, according to various reports, doctors in California treated a man who came to an emergency room with headaches and fatigue that progressed to the point where he lost the ability to walk. Blood tests showed he had huge amounts of the element bromine in his system. Why? He had been drinking two to four liters of orange soda containing BVO every day. He needed dialysis but eventually recovered, that article noted. Please check out that article to see all the details of what's happening.

The article,"Chemical shaming? Coke removes ingredient from Powerade after teen's online petition," also explains how in 2003, doctors in Ohio treated a man with swollen hands and oozing sores. They diagnosed a rare case of the skin condition “bromoderma” after blood tests revealed his bromine was about twice normal limits. The man admitted drinking about 8 liters of Ruby Red Squirt, which contains BVO, each day.

BVO can interfere with the functioning of the endocrine system and is banned in some other countries, including the members of the European Union, where Gatorade is sold without it. Regarding the Mississippi teenager who protested, the article on chemical shaming also mentions Sarah Kavanagh, who in 2012 noticed the ingredient on her Gatorade sports drink and began campaigning for the company to drop it.

When it comes to signatures, the teenager's petition on Change.org eventually gathered 200,000 signatures, and in January 2013, Pepsi dropped BVO from Gatorade. According to the chemical shaming article, BVO at the time of that article remains in products such as Mountain Dew and Amp. In a few months, the Coca-Cola company will be transitioning from the use of brominated vegetable oil (BVO) to sucrose acetate isobutyrate (SAIB) and/or glycerol ester of rosin (singly or in-combination).

Why put glycerol ester of rosin in beverages and chewing gum?

Glycerol ester of rosin is commonly found in chewing gum and beverages, and SAIB has been used in beverages for more than 14 years. Check out the websites, "ZM-100 EASTMAN SUSTANE SAIB, Food Grade" and the May 6, 2014 Newsweek.com article, "Coke to Remove Flame-Retardant Chemical From All Its Drinks." You may wish to check out the article, "Powerade Drops Controversial Brominated Vegetable Oil Ingredient."

According to that article, beverages in the U.S. will complete the transition by the end of the year. But still, if the water is clean, it still would be healthier to drink than sugary sodas. Why not just drink water, coconut water, or some healthy natural blend of ingredients that come directly from plants and have been shown to promote health? The news also appears in health publications. See the May 5, 2014 Medical Daily article, "Powerade Removes Flame Retardant Chemical: How Dangerous Is Brominated Vegetable Oil to Your Health?" You also may wish to check out the petition’s Change.org page, and see the article, "Don't Put Flame Retardant Chemicals in Sports Drinks."

If you don't like water, how about coconut water? If you need more salt, then add the amount of salt you need to get your electrolytes. If you're salt sensitive, coconut water is very low sodium. You also could drink water and eat a whole fruit. You may wish to check out the news article, "Coca-Cola Removing BVO From Powerade - Business Insider." The news also has gone overseas. Check out, "BBC News - Coca-Cola to remove controversial drinks ingredient."

Coconut water is an excellent sports drink -- for light exercise

Coconut water really does deserve its popular reputation as Mother Nature's own sports drink, a new scientific analysis of the much-hyped natural beverage concluded back in August 20, 2012 at the 244th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), according to an August 20, 2012 news release, "Coconut water is an excellent sports drink -- for light exercise." However, people who engage in strenuous exercise that involves a lot of sweat might want to take it all with a grain of salt ― literally ― or stick with a more traditional sports drink like Gatorade, said Chhandashri Bhattacharya, Ph.D. She presented a report on an analysis of coconut water to the ACS, the world's largest scientific society.

"Coconut water is a natural drink that has everything your average sports drink has and more," said Bhattacharya, according to the news release, Coconut water is an excellent sports drink -- for light exercise. "It has five times more potassium than Gatorade or Powerade. Whenever you get cramps in your muscles, potassium will help you to get rid of the cramps. It's a healthy drink that replenishes the nutrients that your body has lost during a moderate workout."

Coconut Water (Coconut liquid endosperm) is widely consumed in many countries as a refreshing beverage but its unique chemical composition of electrolytes and nutrients can make it a good natural substitute of sports drink

The study appearing online in 2012 explored the nutrients in coconut water (coconut liquid endosperm) to know how much people were replenishing compared to sports drinks in the market. Bhattacharya said that the potassium in coconut water also may benefit other people who do not exercise. The typical American diet is low in potassium and high in sodium, which is found in table salt.

Other research has shown that such an imbalance is unhealthy. In one study, people who ate foods low in potassium and high in sodium had twice the risk of death from heart disease and a 50 percent higher risk of death from all causes. Other analyses indicate that a 12-ounce serving of coconut water has more potassium than a banana. And it is high in healthful antioxidants, added Bhattacharya, who is with Indiana University Southeast in New Albany.

Coconut water is the clear liquid found most abundantly inside young, green coconuts, which are fruits of the coconut palm

It long has been a popular drink in the tropics, where street and beach vendors sell green coconuts with a drinking straw in the top. Coconut water now is available in bottles, cans and other containers, and marketers have promoted it as a healthy beverage.

Bhattacharya's team analyzed coconut water, Gatorade and Powerade and found that coconut water contained up to 1,500 mg/liter of potassium, compared to up to 300 mg/liter for Powerade and Gatorade. Coconut water, however, had 400 mg/liter of sodium compared to 600 for the other two drinks. It had comparable quantities of magnesium and carbohydrates as the other drinks. The price for all three beverages ranged from $2 to $3 for 8- to 12-oz containers, she said.

Coconut water's lower sodium content is where it fails as a good sports drink for people who engage in strenuous exercise that produces a lot of sweating, Bhattacharya said. Sweating makes people lose more sodium than potassium, and coconut water alone can't replace that lost sodium.

New dietary analysis tool for athletes debuts: User-friendly alternative to previous dietary recall methods

A website application for athletes called Dietary Analysis Tool for Athletes (D.A.T.A.) has been validated as accurately recording dietary intake based on the 24-hour recall method. "This tool offers sports dietitians and health professionals a new, quick alternative to analyze athletes' dietary intake," said Lindsay Baker, PhD, Principal Scientist, Gatorade Sports Science Institute, according to the April 21, 2013 news release, "New dietary analysis tool for athletes debuts ."

To confirm the accuracy of the tool, Baker and colleagues compared D.A.T.A. with the USDA 5-step multiple-pass method. A total of 56 athletes ages 14-20 participated in the study. Statistical analysis showed the methods of recall were comparable in estimating 24-hour intake of energy, carbohydrate, protein, total fat, water and several micronutrients. According to Baker, this digital tool, with an integrated database, generates a report immediately after the recall, which helps sports health professionals provide quick feedback for the athlete. The D.A.T.A. tool and additional sports nutrition resources can be found at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute's website.

For the database details, nutrient values are obtained from the USDA database as well as restaurant websites and sports nutrition product labels. While the study focused on teen athletes, Baker believes D.A.T.A. could help dietitians and sports health professionals accurately analyze the fluid and food intake of athletes of all ages. This study was funded by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute Baker presented a poster on Sunday, April 21, 2013 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition at Experimental Biology. For more information, check out the website of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.