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Electrolyte Water: Myths and Benefits

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Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

Whether what you drink is tap or bottled water, it is most likely going to contain traces of electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium.

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However, the concentration of these electrolytes in beverages vary to a large extent. Some brands choose to add a significant amount of carbs alongside minerals so that they can market their water as sports drinks, while some others only include a minimum amount just for the taste.

In this article, we will discuss the potential benefits of consuming water and electrolytes, as well as check out the myths that surround the drinking of electrolyte water.

What is electrolyte water?

Electrolytes are those minerals that conduct electricity when they are dissolved in water. These electrolytes are distributed through the fluids in the human body, and they use the electric energy to facilitate vital body functions. Electrolytes are important for;

  • Regulating your blood pressure
  • Controlling your fluid balance
  • Maintaining the correct acidity of your blood (which is your blood ph)
  • Helping your muscles contract

Some of the common electrolytes include potassium calcium sodium magnesium and chloride

Electrolyte waters are boosted with these minerals. However, the level of concentration varies. Your bottle water contains at least a tiny amount of electrolytes unless it is labeled distilled and many other products as well contain electrolytes for the taste.

Tap water contains electrolytes as well. On average 1 liter of tap water contains about 2 to 3% of the radio for calcium magnesium and sodium, but it contains little to no potassium.

In contrast, the same amount of electrolyte enhanced sports drinks carry up to 18% of the reference daily intake for sodium and as low as 3% of the reference daily intake for potassium but packs little to no magnesium or calcium.

May Improve Exercise performance

Electrolyte-enhanced waters specifically sport drinks may be of benefit to athletes because it helps to replenish water energy as well as the electrolytes lost during exercise.

When engaging in physical activities, you require additional fluids to replace the liquid that you lose in sweat, in fact, losing water of as little as 1 to 2% of your body’s weight can cause a decrease in speed strength and focus.

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The sweat you pass out also contains electrolytes especially a high amount of sodium as well as a tiny amount of calcium, potassium, and magnesium. You lose about 1 gram of sodium with every one liter of sweat you pass out on average.

Sports drinks are often recommended over plain water to help replace electrolyte and fluids if you are one of those people tend to sweat a lot or exercise longer than an hour or even in hot environments.

You should bear in mind that sports drinks are not designed for sedentary individuals but athletes. These sports drinks contain calories from added sugar asides electrolytes. In fact, a 591 ml bottle of Gatorade carries a whooping 30g of added sugar

Electrolyte water can rehydrate during illness

Vomiting and diarrhea are usually not considered serious conditions in the short term however when symptoms become persistent or severe it can quickly lead to dehydration if electrolytes and fluids are not replaced

Children and infants are most especially vulnerable to dehydration from diarrhea and severe vomiting. It has been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that oral edition solution must be used at the first sign of illness to prevent dehydration.

Oral rehydration solutions contain electrolyte tabs and water in specific proportions that are easy to digest. Well, sports drinks are similar they contain a higher amount of sugar which is why they are not recommended for young children and infants as they may worsen diarrhea.

Older children may be able to tolerate sports drinks if it is dilated 1 part water 21 part sports drink however adults can tolerate both spots genes and oral hydration without having any issues.

Important to note is that electrolyte beverages are usually not enough for treating severe cases of dehydration. And if you are finding it difficult to keep water down or you notice diarrhea last more than 24 hours, you need to seek medical advice immediately.

Electrolyte water can help prevent heat stroke

Being in a hot environment can put you at risk of different heat-related illnesses which ranges from a mild heat rash to life-threatening conditions like heat stroke.

Normally the human body manages heat by releasing it through the pores on the skin and by sweating. However, there is a high possibility that this cooling system may begin to fill in hot weather, which may cause your body temperature to rise to very dangerous levels.

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The major way you can prevent heat-related illnesses is to reduce the amount of time you spend in the heat. However, getting plenty of electrolytes and fluid is also extremely vital to help your body maintain a cool temperature.

In hot environments, sports drinks and water are highly recommended for hydration other than other kinds of beverages. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee tea and soda may worsen dehydration the same way alcohol can.

Regular water vs. Electrolyte

Adequate hydration is important for overall health. Water is vital for virtually all bodily functions including regulating body temperature, flushing out waste and toxins, as well as transporting nutrients.

Both regular water and electrolytes count towards your daily fluid needs as the other beverages such as fruit juice coffee milk and tea.

The idea that electrolyte water is superior to regular water when it comes to hydration is a very common misperception. But in reality, it actually just depends on the circumstances.

To be specific electrolyte water may be more beneficial if you are at risk of losing minerals quickly. You may want to consider taking an electrolyte enhanced beverage if;

  • You sweat heavily during exercise
  • You are exercising for more than one hour
  • You are sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • You will be exposed to heat for a long period.

Outside of illness hot weather and sports regular water works just fine to meet your daily hydration needs

Electrolyte water is not difficult to make

Instead of buying from the store making your own electrolyte water is a chipper and healthy way to replace electrolytes and fluids when needed. Here is an easy lime and lemon sports drink recipe that you can make at home:

Ingredients;

  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups of unsweetened coconut water

The good part about making this recipe on your own is that unlike the store but versions of electrolyte water you are sure what the recipe contains and it also gives you a refreshing boost of electrolyte without added color flavors or even sugar.

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Electrolyte water and sports drinks can be quite expensive so if you consider making the homemade version you just might not only enjoy it but find out that it is helping you save a lot of money.

We hope you enjoyed reading this and we look forward to hearing from. You, please leave your opinions and suggestions in the comments section.

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