This light drink has a lovely array of sweet and sour notes, with a dap of honey and just a dash of unrefined salt, making it very hydrating and delicious to sip on a hot day or when sick. I drink it because I like it, but it also makes a great homemade electrolyte drink!
(I have a tender place in my heart for beverages, as you may notice in my beverage section here on TheNourishingGourmet.com!)
“Electrolyte drinks” is an interesting concept that is new to the last 50 years or so, and I rather suspect it is mostly a marketing ploy. This is what we need to understand about most store-bought bottled electrolyte or sport drinks: They are made with chemically treated, refined sugars, use food dyes in abundance, contain 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? Plus they are expensive, especially when you consider that it’s basically sugar water with a bit of salt and a few nutrients added in.
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 (what a concept!) 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 them which did help 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 amble 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 helpful in feeling hydrated when sick or during a hot summer day.
While most won’t need to worry about electrolytes unless they are sweating and working out vigorously for more than an hour, according to a pediatric sports medicine specialist, there are times when sick, pregnant or nursing, or when out in the sun a lot where a drink containing natural electrolytes is very refreshing and hydrating. If you want to replace the over-priced sport drinks, it is really simple to make your own at home. There are many options, in fact!
As a side note, I tried to find the “perfect” amount of electrolytes to try to mimic at home, but there is such a wide variety of 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.
One of the best options is simply drinking coconut water (affiliate link). The balance of electrolytes in coconut water mimics your blood’s electrolyte balance perfectly and it is refreshing and delicious too. You can add some delicious fruit juice in to flavor it, if you like. I mix it with a berry flavored kombucha for a light, refreshing drink.
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 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), but you can replace it with another all-natural sweetener, if desired. I personally enjoy the honey notes of the drink. You can leave out the salt, if you like, it’s added to help replace electrolytes lost through sweating or when sick, and I like the salty balance it brings to the drink, but it certainly is delicious without it too. Update: A reader kindly let me know that her doctor recommended using sugar when you specifically are trying to rehydrate. In that case, I’d use an organic cane sugar like this one. (affiliate link). If you make kombucha, I’d recommend buying the linked to ten pound bag.
- ½ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges, on average)
- ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons, on average)
- 2 cups of filtered water
- 2 + tablespoons of raw honey, or sweetener of choice (to taste)
- ⅛ teaspoon of unrefined salt (optional)
- Blend all of the above ingredients together in a blender. Adjust flavor as desired, and serve.