By Casey Seidenberg • Special to The Washington Post

Nike recently launched a Gatorade-colored collection of Air Jordan sneakers in honor of the sports drink's famous 1991 "Be Like Mike" advertisement, which encouraged Americans to consume brightly hued sugar water to emulate basketball star Michael Jordan. Plenty did.

Gatorade is still paying big bucks to professional athletes, though it says it does not target advertising to children under 12. In 2004, it agreed to pay a reported $384 million for an eight-year advertising deal with the NFL. It also has been an official paid sponsor of the NBA, MLB, NHL and NASCAR.

But, recently, some professional athletes have begun to snub commercial sports drinks, favoring more nutritious vehicles for the hydration and replenishment of electrolytes —minerals such as potassium, magnesium and sodium that help water flow into cells.

Parents can do the same for their kids by making healthful drinks at home.

Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady drinks a chef-concocted, secret electrolyte drink.

The Golden State Warriors experimented with water mixed with Himalayan sea salt.

In his biography, tennis pro Andre Agassi says he drank an electrolyte drink made by his trainer Gil Reyes.

Other players swear by alkaline water, which has a higher pH than regular water and potential hydrating abilities, although many claims about it have not been proved through widespread studies.

NBA player Jason Terry, one alkaline water fan, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he avoids sugary drinks.

"There's no supplement for water. People always say Gatorade, but it just doesn't work. . . . I don't really need Gatorade or any kind of sugar,” he said.

He's right. He doesn't need it, and neither do children.

A 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade contains 34 grams of processed sugar, 270 mg of sodium, synthetic food dyes and chemicals. A Gatorade spokeswoman said the company offers lower-sugar or sugar-free products, but some contain dyes or sucralose.

Commercial sports drinks were designed for college athletes in Florida who trained so relentlessly in high temperatures they depleted their bodies of fluids and minerals.

No matter how athletic your children appear, they are most likely not training to this degree. Back when Gatorade asked if we wanted to be like Mike, it didn't suggest we train like Mike.

My teenage sons coach baseball camp in scorching summer heat, yet despite their claims they are "dying from a lack of electrolytes," they do not need a sports drink with high-fructose corn syrup and food dyes.

They could benefit from water and fruit, which deliver electrolytes.

A 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade has 75 mg of potassium while a banana has 422 mg.

Fruit delivers vitamins, and magnesium.

But let's be realistic. Children hankering for sports drinks don't get excited about water and fruit, which is why fruit-based, homemade drink might win them over.

The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees. It states that "routine ingestion of carbohydrate-containing sports drinks by children and adolescents should be avoided or restricted. . . . Water, not sports drinks, should be the principal source of hydration for children and adolescents."

In general, commercial sports drinks have had their day. Let's choose wholesome, hydrating drinks that provide electrolytes, cancer-fighting antioxidants, natural carbohydrates and sugars.

The sports drinks of the future are the ones you make yourself — without a trainer named Gil.

They're the ones that help us be like Mike, Tom and Andre. Even if we can’t be like Mike, we can drink beverages that don't spike our blood sugar. That's a healthy future.

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