Years ago, I really didn’t know what an electrolyte was. I discovered pretty quickly when we landed in the doctor’s office because my daughter had been vomiting all night. She had a stomach “bug” and couldn’t shake it. She couldn’t keep anything down. The doctor took one look and said, “She’s dehydrated so we need to get her electrolytes balanced. They gave her Pedialyte and told us to get more on the way home. As if by magic, she became more focused, energetic and alert. It wasn’t long before she was back to her old mischievous self:-)
What about you? We’ve all had some measure of dehydration at one time or another, but do you know what an electrolyte is and how important it is to your health? If you are an athlete, this word is even more crucial. So, ….
What are electrolytes? Without getting all scientific about this, simply put, electrolytes (such as potassium and sodium) are minerals everyone has in their bodies that help to regulate fluid levels. Your heart and muscles are severely affected if your body’s levels are not in balance. Electrolytes can become too high or even too low, and they are affected by the water levels in the body at any given time. Electrolytes are so important that if your fluid balance is off, your body will let you know by triggering its thirst mechanism.
What causes our electrolytes to become unbalanced? Many things can cause our bodies to become unbalanced. Excessive vomiting, severe dehydration, certain medications, extreme physical exertion, and when the environment is very hot and humid, such as a heatwave. When you sweat, it’s your body way to cool down, but unfortunately, too much sweating along with exertion can cause a loss of body fluids and possible dehydration.
What are the symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance? Symptoms may differ from person to person, but some of the obvious are muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat, fatigue and weakness, blood pressure changes, and in extreme cases confusion, seizures, and convulsions.
Is water okay to get our electrolytes balanced? It has been documented that if you drink a lot of water to remedy this situation, you run the risk of affecting your current electrolyte level – it might drop too quickly. Also, what your body needs at this point are minerals (potassium, sodium, calcium, chloride and bicarbonate) and carbohydrates, and that is why products such as sports drinks and Pedialyte for kids are important because they contain these essential minerals to get your electrolytes balanced quickly.
There are many sports drinks on the market today, and they are very popular. They basically are a mixture of about 90% water, sugar, sodium and/or potassium. And they are not cheap, either. So, the question is, “Is there an alternative to sports drinks?” Yes, there is.
Honey is an excellent alternative to sports drinks. Many years ago, when I was watching the Olympics from my t.v., I noticed that one of the figure skaters was eating something right before she was to take the ice. One of the sports commentators mentioned that it was honey and that quite a few of the skaters ate this before a performance. I was intrigued. On my marvelous honey journey, I’ve discovered why honey is an excellent food for athletes. Here’s why.
First of all, honey is far superior to sugar because honey’s two main components, fructose and glucose, both provide energy to the body. Your body uses the glucose right away, while the fructose acts as slow-release energy.
Also, when you compare honey to sports drinks, it is much cheaper. In fact, an athlete could use honey, along with water and sodium and be better off than using one of those drinks.
Athletes who use honey as compared to sports drinks had a much better endurance level, and they recovered faster! So honey is the obvious winner here.
Why not make your own sports drink. It’s easy, inexpensive and is better than what you could buy. Here’s an excellent recipe for a honey sports drink.
Honey Sports Drink
2 Tablespoons Honey
1/2 Teaspoon sea salt or lite salt
1 Teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 Cup Orange Juice
1 Quart water
Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Shake and enjoy.
Here’s another homemade sports drink recipe that you might enjoy, too.
Honey Green Tea Sports Drink
3 Green tea bags
1/3 Cup honey
Juice from 2 Large lemons
1 1/2 Teaspoons sea salt
3 Cups fruit juice, i.e., apple or grape
1 Quart water
Bring the pot of water to boil. Remove from heat and let tea bags steep until the desired strength is attained. Add the salt. In a gallon contain, put the other ingredients and mix well. Add the boiled tea and water to the gallon and combine. Refrigerate and enjoy.
What recipe have you found to be effective? Please share it 🙂