• Roxie Daggett

4 Easy Homemade Electrolyte Drinks (No Food Dyes or Plastic!)

Updated: Jul 11

Keep your brain and body hydrated all day long with these simple homemade electrolyte drinks! Loaded with vitamins and minerals, these beverages are perfect for boosting your immune system and promoting gentle detoxification. Best of all they are free of refined sugar, food dyes and plastic!

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Why Do We Need Electrolytes?


Dehydration is no joke. Every year in the U.S. hundreds of thousands of people end up in the emergency room from dehydration and a good number are even admitted to the hospital adding up to costly medical bills. The worst cases can lead to seizures -- even brain damage and death.


It's that serious.


Anyone is susceptible to extreme fluid loss, but it can be especially risky for:

  • Those who exercise heavily/athletes

  • Those who work long hours outdoors or in the heat

  • Those who lose fluid from a virus or food poisoning (diarrhea and vomiting)

  • Those with poor access to clean water and nutrition

  • Those with a long term, chronic illness (especially diabetes, alcoholism or kidney disease)

  • Those with eating disorders

  • Those with a poor diet (especially low in fresh fruits and veggies which contain vitamins and minerals -- including electrolytes)

  • Elders and children-- two commonly dehydrated populations

  • Babies and infants


When we lose fluid, we lose electrolytes which are critical for body and brain function.


Electrolytes = Energy = Life!


Electrolytes are a special class of minerals that actually conduct an electric current in our bodies. That's right. We are all electric! How cool is that?!

This electric energy regulates our nervous system function (hello, brain and nerve cells), our muscle function (including our favorite muscle -- the heart!), our blood pressure and plasma levels, and our pH and fluid levels. Electrolytes also support our immune system in repairing tissue damage (they help fix boo boos). They exist inside and outside every cell in our body doing their magic. It's safe to say they are essential for life!

The top three electrolytes we need everyday are:

  • Sodium

  • Potassium

  • Chloride

Sodium and chloride, a.k.a. salt, are the main minerals/electrolytes in our extracellular body fluid -- the liquid OUTSIDE our cells. Potassium dominates our intracellular fluid meaning it is vital INSIDE each and every cell of our bodies. We need plenty of all of three!


The other electrolytes we need are:

  • Bicarbonate

  • Calcium

  • Magnesium

  • Phosphate

Isn't Gatorade Good Enough?!


You may want to think twice about downing those colorful bottles of sports drinks. While they may seem refreshing in the heat of the moment (literally), the electrolytes are often buried under heavy amounts of sugar (hidden with many fancy names like dextrose, maltose and high fructose corn syrup), mass produced chemical preservatives and flavor stabilizers, and food dyes that have been proven to be carcinogenic such as Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40.

"Three dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6) have been found to be contaminated with benzidine or other carcinogens. At least four dyes (Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6) cause hypersensitivity reactions. Numerous microbiological and rodent studies of Yellow 5 were positive for genotoxicity."

This quote comes from an abstract of a 2012 review titled "Toxicology of Food Dyes" published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.


Several popular Gatorade flavors (like Fruit Punch, Strawberry Lemonade, Citrus Cooler and Grape) contain at least one or two of these carcinogenic and/or genotoxic food dyes.


This is in addition to many of these drinks containing over 30 grams of sugar which will certainly give you plenty of energy... and then likely a heavy crash. Blood sugar spikes and drops over time are clearly linked to chronic inflammation and dreaded metabolic and neurological diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease. Commercial sports drinks are notorious for their high sugar content.


Furthermore, these drinks always come in plastic made with BPA shown in numerous studies to mess with our hormones -- ranging from reproductive issues to abnormal fetal development. Not something we want for us or our future generations!


Do I Need to Drink Electrolytes Everyday?


Water is the optimal choice for daily hydration. Adding a pinch of sea salt or trace minerals to pure water can help provide for your daily electrolyte needs and help keep fluid in your body. I aim for at least half my body weight in ounces daily (but I usually drink a lot more especially during summer since I live in a very hot climate).


Food-- like fruits and veggies-- also contain a lot of vitamins and minerals -- including some electrolytes, so keeping hydrated with fresh foods in addition to water has a multitude of health benefits.


But if you have been exercising heavily, spending time outdoors, especially in hot weather, have been extra stressed, ill or feel run down, your body might need an extra boost of electrolytes to cope or recover.


If you are feeling the need to replenish, set aside the artificially colored, sugar heavy, plastic encased sports drinks and bust out one of these EASY all-natural, homemade electrolyte drinks and see how you feel!


Salt Quality & Electrolyte Powder


Each of these homemade electrolyte drinks calls for salt. Refined table salt -- the white kind in most stores and restaurants -- usually contains other processed additives like anti-caking agents and sugar (cutely called dextrose on your Morton's container). I recommend trading this highly processed substance in for a natural salt source like a good quality sea salt or pink Himalayan salt.


Unprocessed salts are loaded with abundant minerals and trace minerals in their natural forms making them easy for your body to process and use. I use this one from Salt Works and sprinkle it in my water and food for daily mineral balance. I know others who like sea salt, but I personally prefer the pink stuff.


You could also use some electrolyte powder if you want to be sure you are getting the right amount and balance of e-lytes. I do this multiple times per week and daily in the summertime! There are lots of electrolyte powders on the market now, but I always prefer ones without sweeteners. I like this one when I'm exercising, run down or spend time in the heat. It has other co-factors like creatine, taurine and D-ribose which support brain and muscle health along with cellular energy. They also have some flavored options, but I always like plain ole seltzer for DIY electrolyte drinks like the ones below.

One Last Thing: Plastic Straw Alternatives


I don't know why drinking beverages out of straw makes them taste better, but it does! I have avoided straws for years because they are a single use cheap plastic (an easy throw away adding to environmental pollution) and they are made with hormone disrupting chemicals that are possibly carcinogenic.

Why would I want all that while enjoying a nutrient-dense drink?


Enter some terrific solutions for non-toxic and reusable straws that will save you money in the long run!

  1. My absolute favorite are these glass straws! They come with a cleaning brush, but I never use it as they are so easy to rinse off. They look pretty when served and are fun to drink from! We've had them for years with no signs of breaking.

  2. Bamboo straws are also attractive to serve from-- especially for parties or events. They are great for families with kids who may be a bit too wild for the glass straws. The key is to wash well and keep them dry so they don't get moldy. As a bonus they are biodegradable when they need to be tossed/composted!

  3. Stainless steel straws are another sturdy option for kids, families, parties and events. They have a more industrial/modern look, hold up for years and travel well. They are very easy to clean and you don't have to worry about breaking or splintering!

Now let's get on to those e-lyte drinks! I'm thirsty!


Note: The links in the recipes below are affiliate links chosen for product quality and purity.

Grapefruit Limeade Electrolyte Drink

This simple beverage is a thirst quenching powerhouse! Grapefruit is loaded with immune and brain-boosting vitamins like C, A, B1 and folate along with hydrating electrolytes like potassium and magnesium. Lime has a hefty dose of vitamin A making it great for immunity, eyes, skin and lungs. Perfect for cold and flu season as well as hot days!


Prep: 5 minutes Serves: 1-2


Ingredients:


Optional Extras

  • 1-2 tablespoons of raw honey (if you need some sweetness)

  • 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger (if you like some spice and extra anti-inflammatories)


Instructions

  1. Juice both citrus fruits and pour into a 32 ounce glass bottle or Ball/Mason jar. Add natural salt and any optional ingredients. Fill the rest of the bottle or jar with filtered water. Stir vigorously or cover and shake it up. Taste and adjust sweetness with extra honey if needed.

  2. Sip all day long, chug some if you are extra thirsty, or split with a friend or family member!


Strawberry Lemonade Vitamin Water

This beautifully colored vitamin water is delicious on hot days and a refreshing afternoon pick-me up! Strawberries are loaded with some heavy-hitting electrolytes like potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous along with DNA supportive folate and immune-boosting vitamin A. The whole lemon provides a powerful dose of your daily vitamin C along with energizing B6 and potassium. Full of cleansing fiber from whole fruit. Drink up!

Prep: 4 minutes Blend: 1 minute Total: 5 minutes Serves: 1-2


Ingredients:


Optional Extras

  • 1 tablespoon of raw honey (if you need a bit of sweetness)


Instructions:

  1. Place strawberries and whole peeled lemon in a blender with salt and 1 cup of filtered water. Add your optional honey. Blend until smooth and pour into a 32 ounce glass bottle or Ball/Mason jar. Fill the rest of the bottle or jar with filtered water. Taste and adjust sweetness with extra honey if needed.

  2. Sip all day long, chug some if you are extra thirsty, or split with a friend or family member!

Green Apple Detox Cider

This tasty detox electrolyte drink takes a touch of planning the night before for best results, but comes together quickly the next day. Green apples are rich in cancer fighting anti-oxidants as well as an excellent source of potassium and even helpful for binding toxins like aluminum. Apple cider vinegar supports gut and skin health as well as enhance weight loss and cholesterol balance. Cinnamon supports blood sugar regulation and also has antiviral properties. This power-packed drink will wake up your cells for a gentle and yummy detox!


Prep: 12 hours or overnight + 5 minutes Total: 8-12 hours and 5 minutes Serves: 1-2


Ingredients:


Optional Extras:

  • 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger (if you like some spice and extra anti-inflammatories)

  • 2-3 clove buds (if you want some extra anti-viral, anti-parasitic detox)


Instructions:

  1. The night before fill a 32 ounce glass bottle or jar with filtered water. Add your cinnamon stick (and optional clove buds) and let sit overnight on the counter (or refrigerator if you prefer) to infuse the water with flavor and spice benefits.

  2. The next day add the rest of the ingredients (except apples) to your bottle or jar. Stir vigorously or cover or cover and shake it up. Add apples and adjust sweetness with extra honey if needed.

  3. Sip this detoxifying drink all day long or split with a friend or family member! Munch on the fiber-rich apples throughout the day or when you are finished. You can also heat this up in the colder months if you prefer a warm drink.


Orange Ginger Sports Drink

This simple and tasty natural sports drink is perfect after sweating or feeling depleted from sports or outdoor time. Oranges are rich in immune-boosting vitamins C, A, B1 and folate along with powerful naturally occurring electrolytes like potassium, calcium and magnesium. Ginger helps improve circulation and digestion which assists all these helpful nutrients to get absorbed. I do not recommend adding any honey or natural sweetener to this drink as the oranges have plenty!


Prep: 5 minutes Serves: 1-2


Ingredients:

Optional Extras:

  • 1/2 lemon juiced (if you want more vitamin C for an extra immune boost)


Instructions:

  1. Juice oranges and pour into a 32 ounce glass bottle or Ball/Mason jar. Add natural salt and any optional ingredients. Fill the rest of the bottle or jar with filtered water. Stir vigorously or cover and shake it up. If you need more sweetness, just add more fresh squeezed OJ-- they have plenty of natural sugar.

  2. Sip all day long, chug some if you are extra thirsty, or split with a friend or family member!

Let me know if you try any of these and what you think in the comments below! You can tag me @nourishandcherish.ntp if you want to share any photos!


References:

  1. Dehydration symptoms and treatments. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/nutritional/dehydration#causes-of-dehydration

  2. Domingo, J. L., Gómez, M., Llobet, J. M., & Corbella, J. (1988, May). Comparative effects of several chelating agents on the toxicity, distribution and excretion of aluminium. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3391623

  3. Harvard Health Publishing. “The Sweet Danger of Sugar.”Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar.

  4. Khazan, Olga. “The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer's.”The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 20 July 2018, www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/01/the-startling-link-between-sugar-and-alzheimers/551528/.

  5. Kim, S. (2007, August 22). Preventable Hospitalizations of Dehydration: Implications of Inadequate Primary Health Care in the United States. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1047279707003080

  6. Kobylewski, S. & Jacobson, M.F. (2012) Toxicology of food dyes, International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health,18:3,220-246,DOI:10.1179/1077352512Z.00000000034

  7. “Plastics: Danger Where We Least Expect It.”News, 19 Feb. 2014, www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/winter10plastics/.

  8. Seachrist, D.D., et al. (2015). “A Review of the Carcinogenic Potential of Bisphenol A.”Reproductive Toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26493093/.

  9. Terry, J. (1994). The major electrolytes: sodium, potassium, and chloride. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7965369

About the Author

Roxie Daggett is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) with a virtual practice in Sedona, Arizona. Her passions include studying nutritional research pertaining to memory, brain health, genes and longevity. When she is not geeking out on nutrition she enjoys messing around in the kitchen with old world recipes, reading and hearing stories from elders and farmers about traditional food sourcing, and wandering around the Red Rocks with her heroic husband and Staffordshire bull terrier.

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© 2020 Nourish & Cherish  Roxie Daggett

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