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Appendix: Some drinks and their ingredients

Drinks that are popular with young people

1. Sports drinks

Sports drinks, also called electrolyte drinks, were initially developed to meet the needs of sports people by replacing fluids, carbohydrates, electrolytes, and minerals that had been lost during strenuous physical activity. Recently, similar drinks that are not intended for serious athletes have been developed. These are commonly consumed by people who are not involved in strenuous physical activity and have no need to replace fluids, carbohydrates, electrolytes, or minerals.

Sports drinks are not generally recommended for people who are not taking part in endurance activities. Plain water is the most economical source of fluid. However, when they are taking part in moderate-to-high-intensity sports events lasting over ninety minutes, young athletes can use sports drinks to replace carbohydrates, fluid, electrolytes, and minerals. The carbohydrate mixture (sucrose and glucose) in these specialised sports drinks is 6–8% (6–8 grams per 100 millilitres). This ratio allows the human gut to absorb the best possible balance of water and carbohydrate.

2. Energy drinks

Energy drinks or "smart drinks" are characterised by the addition of a number of energy-enhancing ingredients – caffeine, guarana, a selection of B vitamins, and/or amino acids may be added. Advertisements for these drinks claim that they provide people with readily available energy and make them feel young and fit. They also claim that the drinks have been designed to have a specific effect on the human body and can alter people's mental state, for example, by improving concentration, increasing alertness, or enabling relaxation.

3. Soft drinks

Soft drinks are mixtures of water, sugar, flavouring, colouring, and carbon dioxide. Their sugar concentration is approximately 12%, much higher than that of specialised sports drinks. The high sugar concentration makes soft drinks unsuitable for replacing fluids during strenuous physical activity. (When an athlete drinks fluids with sugar concentrations of over 8%, their gut may not be able to absorb the water quickly enough, and this may cause cramps, nausea, or even diarrhoea.) Because soft drinks have such high sugar concentrations, frequent consumption of them can contribute to tooth decay.

4. Water

Fluid is essential to life, and pure water is a fluid with no potentially harmful additives. Bottled water has increased in consumption at the same rate as other youth drinks. Tap water and bottled water are practically identical.

5. Carbonated water

Carbonated water is simply water with carbon dioxide dissolved in it to make it fizzy.

6. Milk and milk drinks

Milk is a good source of protein, fat, calories, and minerals and is particularly valuable because it contains calcium, which may be lacking in many people's diets. Flavoured milks are popular with many young people.

The ingredients in drinks

Acidity regulators

These help maintain a constant level of sourness or tartness in food. Examples are: 330 citric acid (food acid) and 331 sodium acid citrate (food acid).

Amino acids

Protein is made up of amino acids; at least twenty-two different amino acids are found in protein foods. Some athletes take amino acids as supplements, thinking that this will increase their muscle growth, although there is no evidence that this is so. Amino acids are added to some drinks.

Antioxidants

Vitamins A, C, and E and beta-carotene are antioxidants. Antioxidants are thought to protect human cell walls, slow down ageing, and protect the body from cancer and other diseases. There is conflicting evidence as to the efficacy of antioxidants taken in supplement form (Ministry of Health, 2002).

B vitamins

The B vitamins assist in the release of energy and help the body to use fat, protein, and carbohydrate. They are found in cereals, bread, nuts, legumes, meat, eggs, and fish. Niacin or vitamin B3, pyridoxine or vitamin B6, and cyanacobalamin or vitamin B12 are often added to energy drinks, usually in very small quantities.

Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant. It is also a diuretic, causing the body to excrete fluid, so it can contribute to dehydration.

Colourings

Colourings are put in drinks to add or restore colour. Some people believe that certain food colourings cause allergies and/or hyperactivity. Common colourings used in drinks include 150 caramel, 102 tartrazine, 122 azorubine, and 110 sunset yellow FCF.

Electrolytes

Sodium, potassium, and magnesium are electrolytes and are essential to muscle function, mental focus, and body cooling. Electrolytes are lost in sweat and urine during physical activity and so need to be replaced. Electrolytes that may be added to drinks include potassium phosphate, calcium phosphate, potassium citrate, calcium citrate, potassium carbonate, potassium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, sodium chloride, calcium lactate, magnesium lactate, and magnesium sulphate.

Flavourings

Flavourings are put in drinks to add or restore taste. They may be used to ensure that the flavour is consistent throughout the product. Without added flavourings, the taste of some products might not be acceptable to the consumers.

Ginkgo biloba

This additive is extracted from the leaves of the ginkgo tree, which is grown in China and Japan. Users claim that Ginkgo biloba improves their memory and mental clarity.

Ginseng

Ginseng is a plant tuber that is believed to invigorate and increase longevity. There is conflicting evidence about this.

Guarana

Guarana, which comes from a Brazilian plant, is often described as a natural caffeine and does in fact contain caffeine.

Kava kava

Kava kava is obtained from a member of the pepper family. Users believe that it improves their concentration, memory, and reaction time. It is mildly narcotic and can cause relaxation and euphoria.

Minerals

Minerals that are added to drinks include vanadium, magnesium, chromium, phosphate, selenium, zinc, and manganese. These are usually added in insufficient quantities to have any significant effects.

Preservatives

Preservatives are added to drinks to stop other ingredients from "going off" and allowing the drink to be kept for longer. One example of a preservative used in drinks is 211 sodium benzoate.

Sugar

Labels on drink packages use the terms fructose, sucrose, glucose, glucose polymer, and maltodextrin to describe different forms of sugar. Sugar gives drinks a pleasant taste, supplies energy and, in sports drinks, is present at a specific concentration to allow water to be absorbed quickly from the human gut.

Note

When people include fruit, vegetables, and nuts in their diet, these foods provide a range of nutrients – such as vitamins and minerals – as well as antioxidants.


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