Boost Your Electrolytes without Artificial Ingredients
With the increase in summer heat and families spending more time outdoors, you may be looking for electrolyte replacement beverages for your family. Unfortunately, many of the mainstream electrolyte beverages on the market are filled with not-so-healthy ingredients that are best avoided, especially in our kids. This article will identify some of the ingredients you might want to avoid and provide with you some healthy alternatives you can feel "cool" about.
Ingredients to avoid in commercially prepared electrolyte drinks
We’re all aware that dehydration and overheating are common causes of headaches, dizziness, and more serious things like heat stroke. What you may not be considering, however, is that while water is a fantastic source of hydration, it does not replenish the electrolytes we lose as we sweat. A depletion of electrolytes can result in a variety of negative health symptoms such as dizziness, heat palpitations, headaches, muscle cramps, weakness/fatigue, and vomiting. Our bodies need these minerals to function but they're often packaged in commercial beverages that also contain ingredients that don't provide any benefit.
Often considered the best of the artificial sweeteners, there is a study connecting it to decreased efficacy of the immune system by diminishing the presence of healthy gut bacteria (which is, in turn, integral to a healthy immune system).
Many of these drinks are high in sugar. You need to read the nutritional facts and keep in mind the serving size is usually 2-3 times less than the full volume of the container. Often these beverages have as much sugar as a can of pop! Sugar has also been linked to decreased immune function, as well as negative affects on mood and behaviour in children.
Acesulfame potassium (K)
This is another artificial sweetener mixed with sucralose or aspartame to increase the sweetness of beverages. It is about 200 times sweeter than sugar. Studies have shown it to be safe – and it is currently used in over 90 countries – though the validity of these studies is now being called into question. There are some animal studies linking it to malfunction in the thyroid and nervous system, as well as cancer. So while considered safe by many regulatory bodies, let's ask ourselves if any sort of laboratory chemical is necessary in our beverage repertoire.
These are banned in many European countries due to their connection with chromosomal (DNA) changes. They have also been linked to an increase in behavioural changes in children and connected with cancer in lab animals.
Healthy electrolyte sources
While there are healthier electrolyte beverages on the market, the easiest way to avoid any nasty ingredients or additives is to make your own. Armed with a bit of knowledge, you can replenish your electrolytes with commonly found, easy to pronounce ingredients from your very own kitchen.
Naturally packed full of electrolytes, allowing you to ditch those commercial energy drinks. Rich in sodium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and calcium, it’s a perfect drink for athletes, pregnant mamas, little ones and anyone needing some extra hydration. Try having it on ice with fresh mint, or use it as the base in a smoothie. Homemade popsicles with a base of coconut water are another easy and delicious summer treat. Coconut water is low in sugar (get unsweetened!) and contains no artificial sweeteners or colours. This is a great base for any homemade electrolyte beverage.
Rich in several dozen trace minerals that our bodies need daily (most notably sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium). Add a pinch of pink Himalayan salt, sea salt or any real salt to your water and you have now made your own electrolyte drink. Table salt does not contain any of those same minerals because of the way it is processed.
Loaded with electrolytes, with lemons containing the most of any of them! The naturally occurring sugars in these fruit juices help to maintain energy during a workout and speed up recovery afterwards. Try adding some fresh lemon, lime or orange slices to your drink. You can even suck on a few for a good boost in nutrients!
Raw Honey or Maple Syrup
Nutrient-rich sweeteners filled with natural enzymes and minerals. They are easily digestible sugars and are great for keeping energy levels high during exercise. Add a teaspoon to your electrolyte drink and enjoy the benefits.
Make your own electrolyte drink
- 4 cups water or coconut water
- ⅛ tsp Himalayan sea salt
- ¼ cup juice (grape, apple, lemon, pineapple)
- 2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
Garnish with some fresh citrus slices
Enjoy the warm weather, be safe, and stay hydrated!