If you have diabetes and you are looking to say hydrated with an electrolyte drink, you know it can be difficult to find one that isn’t too high in sugar and carbohydrates. If you have started an exercise regime, it can also be challenging to keep your blood sugar from getting too low. Exercise removes glucose from the blood without using insulin, and is crucial in getting diabetes under control, but it is a delicate balance for your blood sugar being too high when you are inactive, and too low when you are active. It is important that the electrolyte drink matches your activity level, and you are not drinking an electrolyte drink with 25 carbohydrates while you are sitting inside, or one with zero carbohydrates while you are combining Zumba, Jazzercize and CrossFit.
In regards to these parameters, perhaps you were advised to choose an electrolyte drink that uses artificial sweeteners. While writing The New Menu for Diabetes, I did some research on artificial sweeteners and was shocked that these were recommended for diabetics. The studies clearly showed that these in fact should be avoided, and I wanted to go more in depth in this article regarding why you should avoid Splenda and Acesulfame K.
Why You Shouldn’t Be Using Powerade Zero or Anything with Splenda (Sucralose) or Acesulfame K
After doing some research, I noticed that Powerade Zero was the drink of choice for many diabetics due to it having zero calories. What’s in Powerade Zero?
UK Label: Water, citric acid, mineral salts (sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium phosphate), natural berry flavouring with other natural flavourings, acidity regulator (E332), sweeteners (sucralose, acesulfame K), colour (E133).
US Label: Water, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Salt, Potassium Citrate, Sucralose, Sodium Citrate, Potassium Phosphate, Acesulfame Potassium, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Blue 1, Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12).
If you think FDA approval means anything in regards to your health, just take a gander at all of the harmful processed foods, drinks and medications that are available. Don’t use this as a yardstick for safety. One of the most interesting classes I took in graduate school involved looking at the ways studies are conducted. This was eye opening because you could see how easily a study can be manipulted for desired results. This is the case with sucrolose that claims 110 safety studies, only 2 which were done on humans with a total of 36 people lasting for only 4 days, of which only 23 actually consumed sucralose. Does that seem sufficient for the assumed millions that may have consumed it since 1998?
As I mentioned in my other electrolyte article, the troubling part for me with this synthetic sweetener is that it has a covalent bond with chlorine, creating an organochlorine. What are organochlorines? Agent Orange, DDT, PCB’s, pesticides and insecticides. That’s correct. Your body cannot break these down and are extremely harmful. Exposure to Agent Orange proved to lead to various forms of cancer and diabetes. Ionic bonds with chlorine are found in compounds like salt, covalent bonds with chlorine are found in poisonous and carcinogenic compounds. Sucralose has been found to wreak havoc on intestinal bacteria (up to 50% destruction), which makes sense looking at its chemical structure. Your beneficial bacteria is responsible for up to 80 percent of your immune system, your ability to lose weight, and emerging research is connecting anxiety and depression to low beneficial bacteria populations.
Acesulfame K (K is the symbol for potassium) seems to go under the radar quite often. It’s almost as if it’s hiding behind the other artificial sweeteners and sneaking in the back door into your drink. It’s often blended with other artificial sweeteners to yield a more sugar-like taste, which is why it gets less attention. It also shares a similar bedtime story as aspartame, being discovered by accident when the scientists dip their finger(s) in the chemical solution and lick it off, only to find it to be very sweet. As with sucralose, you have to really rifle through the studies to try and discover where the potential problems may lie.
Methlyene chloride is a solvent used in the beginning step of creating Acesulfame K. What is methlyene chloride? According to the EPA, it is predominately used as a solvent in paint strippers, removers and pharamcuetical drugs, and as propellent for insect sprays and aerosol paint sprays. Exposure from the inhalation of methylene chloride have been linked to headaches, nausea, memory loss, liver and kidney issues, visual and auditory dysfunction, cardiovascular problems and an increased rate of cancer.
According to this FDA 2003 document, “methylene chloride, a carcinogenic chemical, is a potential impurity in ACK resulting from its use as a solvent in the initial manufacturing step of the sweetener. In the past, FDA has assumed that methylene chloride is present in Acesulfame K at the LOD of 40 ppb (worst-case scenario) and has evaluated its safety by performing a risk assessment for methylene chloride based on this level. No new information has been received to change FDA’s previous risk assessment for methylene chloride.” You know how much of this should be considered safe for human consumption? Zero parts per billion. According to the 2013 Code of Federal Regulations, Asulfame K also cannot have a fluoride content of more than 30 parts per billion. Fluoride? If you have been following any research regarding fluoride in our water supply, you know that ingesting it can cause many problems. Compounding chemicals from different sources always needs to be considered when looking at actual safety parameters for ingestion.
Blue dye #1 (and others like it)
A recent study published in the Journal of Toxiocology found that the dyes actually enter the bloodstream through the skin or digestive system, debunking previous expertise that the skin blocked it and the digestive system destroyed it first. This is alarming because these dyes have already been linked to ADHD, allergies and asthma, but due to the dye’s ability to inhibit cellular respiration, a whole cascade of health effects can occur. You can count on these being banned in the future.
If you have been recommend NUUN Active Hydration because it doesn’t have any sugar or carbohydrates, you may want to think twice. Here are the ingredients:
Other ingredients: citric acid, sorbitol, sodium carbonate, natural colors flavors, sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, polyethylene glycol, magnesium sulfate, sodium benzoate, calcium carbonate, acesulfame potassium, riboflavin-5-phosphate.
Besides acesulfame potassium, it has sodium benzoate. The concern is that when you combine sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid you create benzene, especially in the presence of heat and light (common with storing citrus flavored soda in a warm garage). Citric acid may act as a catalyst for this process in the presence of ascorbic acid. Even if ascorbic acid isn’t in the product with sodium benzoate, you could be consuming food containing vitamin C or a food product/supplement with ascorbic acid for this to occur.
Benzene damages the cells mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell where you are generating energy in the first place! It has been found to cause cancer – leukemia and other cancers of the blood – by disabling a cell’s DNA. Benzene is also found in cigarettes, pesticides, car exhaust, paints and certain laundry detergents. Runners and bikers exposed to car exhaust should be especially mindful of this, since vitamin C is an important antioxidant to protect against oxidative stress and promote tissue repair. As a diabetic, you may be taking vitamin C along with Metformin.
Best Electrolyte Drinks for Diabetes
What is the criteria for the best electrolyte drinks for diabetes? I’m looking for a drink that contains all of the electrolytes, is sweetened with stevia or Lo Han Guo, does not contain any artificial sweeteners or colors, and is low in carbohydrates. A bonus is given if it contains chromium and vitamin C, both which are very beneficial for diabetics.
Stevia has been found to regulate blood sugar and prevent hypertension, decrease blood glucose and improve carbohydrate metabolism. Lo Han Guo has been found to improve insulin response, reduce blood sugar, lower lipid peroxidation and reduce protein spilling (better kidney function). When chromium is available in sufficient amounts, lower amounts of insulin are required to move glucose into the cells. One randomized, double-blind study found that after 12 weeks, vitamin C with metformin increased ascorbic acid levels, reduced fasting blood sugar, post-meal blood glucose and improved HbA1C compared to the placebo group.
What to Look for in Stores
1. Coconut Water: A study from 2012 and a study from 2015 found that coconut water has anti-glycation properties, kidney protection, prevented hyperglycemia and oxidative stress. It is an excellent source potassium, chloride, magnesium, calcium, sodium, b-vitamins, enzymes and vitamin C.
The best way to enjoy coconut water is to buy a young coconut, take a hammer to the top, and enjoy it fresh and raw. If you want to buy coconut water in the store, you need to be more selective since many companies are going out of their way to deliver cheap coconut water that lasts for two years on a shelf, often from concentrate and with added sugar and flavors. That should make you suspicious.
What you want to look for is coconut water in the refrigerated section, that uses young coconuts, is not pasteurized and does not contain any added ingredients like natural flavors, fruit juice or sugar. The companies I have found that follow these guidelines include: Harmless Harvest, Unoco, Liquitera, Vital Juice and Juice Press. Many of these use a process called HPP, which sterilizes the juice with pressure instead of heat. This keeps the vitamins and enzymes in tact.
Convenient Electrolyte Powders
Ultima Replenisher is recommended as the best all around electrolyte drink for diabetics. It can be used as a hydrating drink on a hot day, or with light to moderate exercise.
Ingredients: Potassium, Magnesium, Chloride, Calcium, Selenium, Zinc, Phosphorus, Sodium, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum, Chromium, Silica, Vitamin C, Non-GMO Maltodextrin, Stevia Leaf Extract, Natural Flavors, Luo Han Guo, Citric Acid, Beet Color, Malic Acid.
Carbohydrates: 3 grams
Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator is recommended if you are want portable single packets to take with you, and you want a zero calorie electrolyte drink. This one is pretty sweet, so you will want to dilute it quite a bit.
Ingredients: Potassium, natural lemon and lime flavors, magnesium, citric acid, malic acid, stevia extract, calcium, chloride, phosphorus, sodium, vitamin C, silocon dioxide, zinc, copper, selenium and chromium.
Pure Encapsulations Electrolyte/Energy Formula is recommended only for exercise lasting 1-2 hours if you are needing to prevent low blood sugar. The carbohydrate level is low, but it is important to monitor glucose after the first trial dose to see how you respond. Choose the other options if you are wanting an electrolyte drink while you are inactive or taking part in a light to moderate exercise regime.
- vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) 100 mg.
- calcium (as calcium citrate) 50 mg.
- magnesium (as magnesium citrate) 50 mg.
- chloride (as sodium chloride) 75 mg.
- sodium (as sodium chloride) 50 mg.
- potassium (as potassium phosphate) 50 mg.
- alpha ketoglutarate 200 mg.
- malice acid 200 mg.
- l-tyrosine (free-form) 500 mg
carbohydrate: 7 g
sugars: (glucose): 3.5 g
4. Trace Minerals Endure