I’m sure everybody has heard the word ‘electrolyte’, usually associated with some sort of fluroescent sports drink. Advertising would have you believe that elite athletes drink these concoctions, so they must be good for us right? Hmm. Store bought sports drinks are basically expensive, chemical laden sugar water. In certain situations replenishing your electrolyte stores through supplementation is absolutely wise, but your beautiful body does not need stuff like Sucralose, ‘Yellow 5’ or ‘Red 40’ to stay hydrated. Luckily the whole electrolyte deal it is pretty simple, and it requires no lab coats to top up your stores (recipe at the end of this post). So what is an electrolyte, and why are they so important? Read on, so that your clued in when you next grab your coconut water!
What is an electrolyte?
Electrolytes are charged minerals, or ions, that when dissolved in water are able to conduct electricity (pure water cannot hold a charge). Each electrolytes has a special role in the body and attracts water to where it is needed. The following are particularly important as electrolytes: magnesium, sodium, potassium, chlorine, phosphate and calcium. Electrolytes perform a number of vital function in our body including maintaining fluid balance (including blood pressure and volume), preserving the acid/alkaline balance of our blood and regulating muscle and nerve function. The most common signs of a deficiency relate back to the function of electrolytes in our body – muscle cramping, twitching, muscle weakness, dizziness, confusion and apathy, but they can be as serious as irregular heartbeat, so if in doubt about anything you are experiencing get checked out with your GP.
In general drinking plenty of water and eating a nutritious diet should be enough to replenish our electrolyte stores. However you should consider supplementing your diet if you:
- do heavy exercise
- experience vomiting or diarrhoea
- have consumed too much alcohol
- have spent a long time in the sun
- are pregnant or nursing
- you drink plenty of water but just don’t ever feel fully hydrated, or show signs of dehydration
Fresh coconut water is a wonderful choice for a quick hit of electrolytes, but I still always recommend a varied diet so tend to avoid drinking coconut water everyday. For a refreshing change give this Clean Sports Drink a try! Citrus fruits are high in potassium and sodium, the salt provides chloride and sodium and the honey supplies glucose to both replenish glycogen stores and assist mineral absorbtion.
the Clean Sports Drink
What you need
2 cups water
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8th teaspoon salt
1 tbs raw honey
What you do
Mix all ingredients together either in a blender or by hand (adding it all to a bottle and shaking works really well). Consume post-exercise or as needed.