Here's what we all need to understand about store-bought bottled electrolyte drinks: They are made with chemically treated, refined sugars, they contain food dyes in abundance as well as artificial flavoring and other less-than-stellar ingredients such as brominated vegetable oils. All of these are ingredients I choose not to use in my kitchen, so why would I serve my children or myself a drink that contains all of the above?
And think about how much money you're spending on trumped up sugar water! The fact is we have been led to believe through advertisement and the companies behind them that we need special drinks to “recover” from a bit of sweat.
It is true that staying hydrated is really important, especially if you are exercising and sweating a lot. Many experts agree that most will be fine simply drinking water and eating a well-balanced diet. And there is a big difference between athletes who are working out everyday for hours on end, and those of us who do a 20-minute workout before breakfast.
However, I have heard testimonies from others, one being a pregnant mother, who found that they were having a hard time staying hydrated just with water. At the advice of her doctor, my pregnant friend started making a homemade hydration drink with natural electrolytes in it that helped her stay hydrated during the hot summer months while pregnant.
About five years ago, I got really sick for a week and found myself terribly dehydrated. Chicken broth with an ample amount of unrefined salt in it brought me back to the land of the living (or so I felt). The electrolytes in the salt and chicken broth were likely what made me feel so much better when water was doing nothing for me. I have also found kombucha can be helpful in feeling hydrated when I'm sick or during a hot summer day.
While most of us won’t need to worry about electrolytes unless we are sweating and working out vigorously for more than an hour, according to pediatric sports medicine specialist, there are times — when you're sick, pregnant, nursing, or out in the sun a lot — when a drink containing natural electrolytes is refreshing and hydrating. If you want to replace overpriced sport drinks, it is really simple to make your own at home. There are many options, in fact!
Finding the perfect mix
I tried to find the “perfect” amount of electrolytes to try to mimic at home, but there are so many opinions on this (and some sport experts say that there are varying degrees of electrolytes in people’s sweat, so replacing them varies from person to person) that it was impossible to find. In the end, I’d say just drink what sounds good and feels good for your body. After a quick workout, drinking some water and eating a nourishing meal will be fine for most of us. After a day in the hot sun or sweating a lot while taking a long run, you may want a more mineral-rich drink.
Some natural options include simply drinking coconut water. The balance of electrolytes in coconut water mimics your blood’s electrolyte balance, and it is refreshing and delicious too. You can add some delicious fruit juice to flavor it, if you’d like.
You can also make a homemade “V8”-style juice, if you own a juicer, using tomatoes, celery, carrots, a bit of parsley, a handful of greens and even onion and garlic or red pepper (celery contains natural sodium, and can make this juice a bit “salty” in taste, but some people like to add a dash more of unrefined salt and ground pepper too). Another option is a simple vegetable and fruit juice using 6 celery sticks, 1 apple, and half of a lemon.
Or, you can make this super simple, easily adaptable version that tastes sort of like orange lemonade with a dash of salt. It is tasty and refreshing! I used local raw honey that was unfiltered, so it will have a slightly honey-ish taste (even with just the 2 tablespoons). You can always replace it with organic, unbleached sugar, as some recipes use that instead of the honey.
Super Simple Electrolyte Drink
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cups of filtered water
- 2-4 tablespoons raw honey, to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon unrefined salt (to taste)
In a blender, blend all of the ingredients together until the honey or sugar is dissolved. Taste test and adjust as needed. Enjoy.