What Are Electrolyte Drinks (and how to make your own)
Electrolyte drinks are something I never really thought would become a thing, and yet here we are.
Electrolyte drinks are quickly becoming all the rage in the holistic health market.
You’ve probably heard ads for them on podcasts, or seen them advertised to you on Facebook or Amazon.
They are quickly becoming one of the new fads in total health support.
And this is not a bad thing.
But, for us to talk about these drinks, it’s probably a good idea to talk about electrolytes and what good they serve for our health.
It’s probably been a while since you thought much about electrolytes, and to be honest, they’re not something I spend a lot of time speaking about in my articles (though I do focus quite a bit on magnesium, which is a primary electrolyte).
So, let’s talk about electrolytes, electrolyte drinks and also the pros and cons of the ones being sold, and some other information I hope you find valuable.
What are Electrolytes?
So what are electrolytes?
As simple as it may sound, they are just a mixture of minerals that are essential for the proper functioning of the human body.
There aren’t many, either.
Just sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride.
The way they work is your body dissolves them after ingestion and then they’re incorporated into bodily fluids where they help your body maintain an electric charge.
I’ve mentioned it many times… that we are electrical beings, and without an adequate intake of electrolytes there’s not a good outlook for normal bodily function.
Let me tease this out for you.
Without consistent intake of the electrolytes listed above, you will struggle to regulate your body’s pH levels, you will have difficulty maintaining fluid balance, and your nerves and muscles will not function well either.
Additionally, you will not be able to transport nutrients effectively throughout the body nor will you be able to detox.
Your cardiovascular system depends on electrolytes, too. From them being able to help to regulate blood pressure by controlling the amount of fluid in the blood vessels, to your heart being able to function (thanks to magnesium).
Not to mention the fact that electrolytes are necessary for important things including bone health, digestion, and metabolism.
An entire scientific book could be written on the value of electrolytes, which is why you can see how they’ve become a part of a burgeoning beverage industry.
Are Electrolyte Drinks Even Necessary (and can you make your own?)
If I were being honest I’d tell you flat out there’s no need for you to have electrolyte drinks in your pantry.
But, that hinges on one main factor… you eat an incredibly well-balanced diet filled with fruits, meats, starches, and vegetables.
Most Americans can’t check all of these boxes because most of them don’t eat these kinds of foods with regularity.
I hope that you do, but I wouldn’t expect you to nail this kind of diet day in and day out.
Which is why an electrolyte drink may be useful.
“Electrolyte drink” is a catch-all term for a bunch of different products, including stir-in drinks like LMNT, and sports drinks like Powerade.
Certified Holistic Health Counselor Jillian Levy writes the following about electrolyte drinks:
“The primary reason that sports drinks were created was to help replace electrolytes that are lost through sweat. The problem with commercial sports drinks, such as Gatorade, Powerade and others, is that they’re often high in both calories and sugar — plus they usually contain artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors and other not-so-great chemicals. As one dietician explains, “Sugar, salt, and water help your body absorb fluids, but a lot of sports drinks have too much sugar and not enough electrolytes to really help your body replenish the electrolytes it needs.”
Electrolyte water and other similar drinks are most beneficial for endurance athletes who complete long, high-intensity workouts, as well as people who are sick and losing fluids.
When you consume low-sugar drinks with electrolytes, such as the types listed below, they can offer some of the following benefits:
- Preventing an electrolyte imbalance, in which you’re low in certain minerals, such as potassium or sodium
- Promoting hydration and preventing dehydration
- Reducing muscle spasms and cramps
- Balancing fluids inside your body, which can decrease bloating and swelling
- Managing side effects from vomiting and diarrhea, such as fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, and nausea
- Regulating blood pressure levels
- Helping regulate cell and nerve functioning
- Assisting in balancing your pH levels (the measure of acidity and alkalinity)
There are dozens and dozens of brands out there, and I’m not here to focus on brand recommendations past saying this; If they’re high in sugar, and/or they have artificial ingredients in them, please don’t buy them.
Past that, don’t spend too much on them either. I’ve seen some go for as much as $3.00 a drink. And while $3.00 for a health beverage isn’t at the top of the list for the most expensive drink ever, the facts are you can make your own for far less.
This is why I’d say spending money on name brands may not be the best idea.
Here’s a simple recipe:
For less than 50 cents you’ve got a powerful and effective electrolyte drink.
For added “oomph” add some coconut water.
But again, these are just supplements to a healthy diet. If you work out a lot or aren’t in the best health and struggle to eat good foods, they can be added in to help round out your intake.
But, I think you should be eating your electrolytes as often as possible.
Here’s a great article on which foods to eat for getting all of your electrolytes.
Don’t think of electrolyte drinks as solving any problems, but just helping to support your health in general.