Hello sunshine and hello sweat! Walk into any grocery store (especially during the summertime!) and most likely, the small refrigerated sections will contain bottles of artificially colored and flavored sports drinks a.k.a. electrolyte beverages. Sure, their bright colors and glimmering labels with words promising to help you feel refreshed and energized after consuming them is tempting, but please, don’t be fooled any longer!
So, what are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are electrically charged ions with either a positive or negative charge. In layman’s terms, they are mainly salt. The top electrolytes found in our cells are sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate and bicarbonate. Luckily, our bodies can maintain a balanced level of electrolytes from wholesome nutrition, if electrolyte beverages are not available.
Here are examples of times when you may need to drink a beverage containing extra electrolytes:
- After exercise that results in significant perspiration
- Muscle cramps
- Prolonged periods of being outside in the hot, summer weather
- Being sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- Kidney disease – the kidneys are flushing too much potassium, magnesium and chloride
- Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy
- A diet heavily in processed and enriched foods
- Taking over-the-counter diuretics
- Malabsorption (not adequately absorbing food) from digestive issues
There are a lot of beverage companies that have their own lines of sports drinks and deciding which one’s will deliver you with quality electrolytes can be challenging for some individuals.
CAUTION! Stay away from these popular sport’s beverages! The most popular sports drink beverages currently are (one of the original fellas) Gatorade, Powerade, PediaLyte, PoweradeZero, Propel, Vitamin Water, Lucozade Sport, Accelerade Sport and Cytomax. Sure, these products contain an abundant source of electrolytes, however they are laden with artificial colors, sugars and natural flavors. With that, let’s discover the most pure sources of electrolytes that not only replenish you and don’t taste too bad, either!
Pure sources of electrolyte beverages are the following:
- Coconut Water (best brands: Harmless Harvest, Taste Nirvana Real Coconut Water, Vital Juice and Suja)
- Cucumber Water (slice up a few cucumbers and add to your water)
- Pineapple Juice
- Carrot Juice
- 1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar with 1 tsp of honey diluted in 2 cups of water (high levels of potassium)
Now, another caution is please do not be deceived by the appearance of the healthier, powdered electrolyte products. Examples of these brands are Emergen-C; Nuun; Ultima; and Vega Sport. These typically contain unnecessary added sugar and “natural flavors.” The next time you are in search of an electrolyte beverage, choose the healthier options above. Sure, they may not taste like “cool blue” and “fierce grape,” but your body will thank you for not overloading it with unnecessary toxins. J
However, if you would like more of a fruity-tasting rendition of your standard electrolyte drink and you have extra time on your hands, check out this recipe:
Pure Electrolyte Sports Beverage
- 1 quart of brewed herbal fruit tea (i.e. red raspberry leaf, peach, mango and the like)
- 1/8 teaspoon of pure sea salt
- ½ tsp Vitamin C Powder – look for Pure Radiance C powder brand
- 1 tablespoon of real sweetener (honey, stevia or coconut sugar)
- Brew your favorite tea
- Once tea is cooled, add in sea salt, vitamin C crystals and sweetener
- Mix all ingredients well and keep cold in the fridge
Take home points:
Start to retrain your taste buds and go for the pure electrolyte options such as coconut water, pineapple and carrot juice, cucumber water or try the delicious sports recipe above.
Remember, your body only needs the electrolytes to replace its lost stores; it does not need the unnecessary additives found in the most popularized sports beverages.
Lastly, if you do find that you’re sitting at home alone on a Saturday night (it’s OK, it happens to even the most highly-liked individuals!), go into your kitchen and make a batch of the pure electrolyte sports beverage recipe. Your lost electrolyte stores will thank you after your next intense workout or hot day spent outside!
***To learn more about Dr. Rachel Bright, visit her website: www.getyourbrighthealth.com***