Rehydrate by drinking milk? Researchers say moo juice is best

Every so often, I read something that causes me to blink or do a double-take. That was the case when I saw a headline, “Milk Better than Water to Rehydrate Kids.”

According to researchers at McMaster University, active children need to be “watered” with milk. They say it’s a more effective way of countering dehydration than a sports drink or water itself.

I haven’t checked with local medical professionals to see whether they agree, but Brian Timmons, research director of the Child Health and Exercise Medicine Program at McMaster and principal investigator of the study, said, “Children become dehydrated during exercise, and it’s important they get enough fluids, particularly before going into a second round of a game. Milk is better than either a sports drink or water because it is a source of high quality protein, carbohydrates, calcium and electrolytes.”

He added that milk replaces sodium lost in sweat and helps the body retain fluid better.

In addition, the milk provides protein needed by children for muscle development and growth that is not found in other drinks.

The study involved 8- to 10-year-olds exercising in a climate chamber, then receiving a drink and being measured for hydration.

Timmons, an assistant professor of pediatrics of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, said active children and adults usually don’t drink enough to stay hydrated during exercise, so they often have a “hydration disadvantage” when they start their next period of exercise.

If I’m reading this correctly as a basketball official, instead of being provided with water and/or Gatorade, schools should be providing us with a cold glass of milk. It sure sounds strange.

Timmons said that 1 percent dehydration can have up to a 15 percent decrease in performance, with an increased heart rate, core temperature and less ability to keep going. More significant dehydration comes with an increased risk of heat-related illness such as heat stroke.

I find it humorous that the study was funded by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. You can decide for yourself what you think, but the words on this particular sign seem appropriate: “Beware of finding what you are looking for.”


Another interesting study shows nearly a tenfold increase in the number of hospital emergency department visits involving non-alcohol energy drinks from 2005-2009.

A new nationwide report indicates that during that period, the number of emergency departments visits associated with the use of non-alcohol energy drinks rose from 1,128 visits in 2005 to 13,114 visits in 2009.

Energy drinks are flavored beverages containing high amounts of stimulants such as caffeine. They’re often sold in cans and bottles and are readily available in grocery stores, vending machines, bars and other venues.

These energy drinks are marketed to appeal to youth and are consumed by up to 50 percent of children, adolescents and young adults.

Forty-four percent of the emergency department visits involving energy drinks were associated with the combined use of an energy drink with other substances such as alcohol, pharmaceuticals or illicit drugs.

“Energy drinks used in excess or in combination with alcohol or drugs can pose a serious health risk,” said Pamela S. Hyde, an administrator with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration.

“The beverage industry, consumer groups, community coalitions, the healthcare community, teachers, parents and others must get the word out that quick fix energy drinks are not a solution and carry great risks, especially in combination with other substances of abuse,” she added.

“Sleep, exercise and a healthy diet rather than stimulants in a beverage are the keys to quality performance, sustained success and overall wellness.”

In other words, the shortcuts to success or more energy courtesy of energy drinks may come with a high price to your overall health.

Studies indicate that excessive caffeine intake from energy drinks can cause adverse reactions such as arrhythmias, hypertension, dehydration and other more serious medical conditions.

No doubt the results of these studies will be refuted by other studies, but at the very least, it’s worth being informed.

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