Electrolyte water helps replenish the body of fluid and minerals lost from sweat during workouts, in hot weather or when experiencing an illness. Because store-bought electrolytes drinks often contain heavy doses of sugar and calories, you can choose to make your own healthier versions.
Read more: How Can I Tell When My Body Is Hydrated?
Benefits of Electrolytes
According to the United States Geological Survey, water comprises up to 60 percent of the human adult body. Water is the most essential entity for you to survive. When you lose even a partial amount of this 60 percent, your body can't perform of all of its essential functions. When this occurs, electrolytes step in to regulate hydration levels.
Electrolytes come in forms such as chlorine, potassium, phosphate, magnesium, calcium and sodium. They are minuscule, electrically-charged minerals found in your urine, blood and tissues. If you lose too much water, the benefits of electrolytes are that they can aid in restoring your hydration levels back into harmony and save you from serious side effects. Maintaining an appropriate hydration symmetry allows your body to proportion blood acidity and employ proper muscle action.
You can find electrolytes naturally in foods. This includes vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach; fruit such as watermelon, strawberries and oranges; and lean proteins such as chicken and fish. Electrolytes are also a touted ingredient of manufactured products such as sports drinks and gummy candies, but these products often come with a high sugar dosage. Electrolyte water can save you from spiking your blood sugar level, in addition to the consumption of unnecessary extra calories.
Read more: Proper Hydration in the Elderly
Side Effects of Low Electrolytes
The side effects of electrolyte imbalance (when electrolytes are too high or low, which changes the amount of water in the body) include high blood pressure and the heart having to work harder than normal, according to Harvard Medical School. An electrolyte imbalance can even cause a visit to the emergency department. In a study published in PLOS, 20.5 percent of patients admitted to the emergency department with electrolyte imbalances were actually readmitted with 30 days from discharge due to the long-lasting severity of an electrolyte imbalance.
If you have low electrolytes, you could have the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, dizziness and falling, according to a July 2015 review published in the Internist. If these occur, you should immediately drink electrolyte water and monitor your symptoms. If you start to feel worse, you should contact a medical professional.
How to Make Electrolyte Water
One of the easiest solutions to replenishing fluids lost from working out, when in elevated temperatures or feeling sick, can come right from your own home using a combination of water and simple household ingredients. You can make your own electrolyte water that doesn't include heavy amounts of sugar by doing the following:
- Combine 8 ounces of tap water (which already contains trace amounts of electrolytes) with a 10 to 1 ratio of a sweetener to salt. For the sweetener, try using honey or Stevia. Mix well.
- Add citrus fruits to water. Cut up lemons and mix with water using a 3 to 1 ratio of water to fruit. In a 2018 study published in the Journal of Chemical and Biological and Physical Sciences, researchers found that lemons contain a cell that changes chemical energy into electrical energy, which act like an electrolyte.
- If lemons don't provide enough flavor, you can try adding lemon juice and a small dash of salt to water using a 10 to 1 ratio (water to juice) for a tarter homemade version of electrolyte water.
- The United States Geological Survey: “The Water in You and the Human Body”
- Journal of Chemical and Biological and Physical Sciences: “Construction and Evaluation of Electrical Properties of a Lemon Battery”
- PLOS: “Electrolyte Imbalances in an Unselected Population in an Emergency Department: A Retrospective Cohort Study”
- Harvard Medical School: "Potassium and Sodium Out of Balance"
- Internist: "The Most Frequent Electrolyte Disorders in the Emergency Department: What Must be Done Immediately?"