Just because it is “Natural” it is not necessarily safe or healthy
Regular InGoal Columnist Maria Mountain is an expert trainer of hockey players, including Stanley Cup Champions. Learn more about working with her at www.hockeytrainingpro.com
Let me start by saying I love my Mom, she is great and was patient enough to raise my brother and me. I am pretty sure she does not read InGoalMag, so I think I am safe to tell this story about my Mom. When we were kids having potato chips or a can of Coke was a huge treat. In the summer when we were off school, we were allowed to pick one box of sugary cereal for the whole summer (Cap’n Crunch being my favourite!). So now when we have a family gathering, my Mom likes to spoil us with some of those treats, but she tries to be health conscious at the same time, so she will buy chips that are “trans fat free organic,” for example.
The marketers are so clever that they make us believe that this is a healthy choice, making “trans fat free organic” potato chips is kind of like putting lipstick on a pig – it is still a pig and chips are still crap! What other examples do you see – how about sugar free ice cream? Okay, so now you have a chemically sweetened ice cream that is still loaded with fat – is that really better?
Now let’s look at the so called energy drinks that are all natural! Cocaine comes from a plant – plants are natural right? So does that mean it is safe to consume cocaine? Sounds like a dumb question doesn’t it? Yet I still get hockey players asking me about the latest ‘energy drink’ with herb ‘xyz’ that is all natural.
Editor’s note:, a recent study in the medical journal Pediatrics notes:”Energy drinks are under-studied, overused and can be dangerous for children and teens” and they should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco.
The potential harms, caused mostly by too much caffeine or similar ingredients, include heart palpitations, seizures, strokes and even sudden death
Sales of energy drinks are expected to top $9 Billion this year – and according to Dr. Marcie Schneider, an adolescent medicine specialist in Greenwich, Connecticut and member of the nutrition committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
“These drinks have no benefit, no place in the diet of kids.”
Because it is ‘natural’ it is not necessarily safe – just ask the OHL players who were suspended 8-games for a first time doping infraction. One of the players purchased an over-the-counter supplement and even identified himself as an OHL player before making the purchase AND he checked the ingredients listed against the list of banned substances.
Surprise, surprise, the banned substance was not listed on the ingredient list! One of its derivatives was listed instead. So here are your take home messages:
- Because something is labeled as “all natural” it is not necessarily good for you or safe.
- Even clerks working in the sport nutrition stores cannot keep track of what products are safe or not – you cannot take their word for it.
- Finally, if you are tired enough that you need an energy drink to get you excited about a hockey game, how about you try this supplement…sleep! Go to bed at 9pm and then you won’t be so tired.
Bottom line, you are responsible for what you put in your body. If you have any doubts, don’t eat or drink it. Here is another suggestion, the next time you are looking for a pre-game drink try water, or one of the lower carb sport drinks (when the game starts you want to be drinking the full carb version). If you really feel you need a stimulant before the game then stop off at the coffee shop on your way to the rink and grab a cup of coffee.