Dehydrated? Skip the flat cola.

By Ann Griswold • Published: September 16th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When it comes to home remedies, some things have always gone together… like chicken soup for the common cold and flat cola for tummy aches. But a new study finds that fizzy drinks, even those that have gone flat, aren’t the best choices for battling dehydration when kids suffer from vomiting and diarrhea.

Gastroenteritis, the so-called stomach flu, can make for an uncomfortable few days, but it doesn’t usually progress into a serious problem if patients keep drinking to replace the fluids they flush down the toilet. But kids are especially finicky, and most would rather sip on ginger ale or flat cola than on the yucky oral rehydration solution prescribed by the pediatrician.

With this in mind, researchers from the United Kingdom searched databases of scientific studies conducted as long ago as 1950 and as recently as 2007 to find an answer to the age-old question that all mothers ask: Can flat cola fight dehydration in sick kids?

According to the World Health Organization, salty-sweet beverages… drinks that contain equal amounts of sugar and salt… are the best at replacing lost fluids. But after reviewing the contents of drinks like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Sprite and Seven-Up, researchers found that carbonated drinks contain far too much sugar and not enough electrolytes like sodium and potassium to do kids much good.

The bottom line: Play it safe by sticking with oral rehydration solutions like Pedialyte or Infalyte. If your child won’t budge, adding a bit of sugar-free flavored Jello might help.