Electrolyte Water
Electrolytes must be present adequately in the body to sustain fluid balance, muscular contraction, and brain function.

Electrolyte water is a combination of water and minerals called electrolytes. Minerals may be present in hard tap water, but the values and types vary. Commercial varieties of electrolyte water contain vitamins, but their major value is from the electrolytes it contains.

  • Electrolyte water is also called alkaline or mineral water.
  • Electrolyte drinking water is particularly intended to boost hydration and other biological processes by including just the most helpful electrolytes in ideal quantities.

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals that, when dissolved in water, generate an electrical charge. Your body receives and retains electrolytes from the food and drink you have. These minerals include:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium

They circulate throughout your body and use electrical energy to perform crucial physical activities, such as:

  • Balance the body's water content
  • Adjust the pH of the body
  • Incorporate nutrients into cells
  • Get toxins out of cells
  • Control nerves, muscles, heart, and brain functions
  • Help repair damaged tissue

Why do physically active people need electrolytes?

When a person exercises and sweats, they lose important electrolytes that must be replenished. A healthy electrolyte balance is crucial for everyone.

Electrolytes are ions that are positively or negatively charged and conduct electrical activities. Electrolytes must be present adequately in the body to sustain fluid balance, muscular contraction, and brain function.

  • The kidneys save or excrete electrolytes to maintain electrolyte balance in the body. 
  • The water is pulled to areas with the highest concentrations of electrolytes, mainly sodium and chloride.
  • As a result, electrolytes serve an important role in maintaining water balance throughout the body, especially during activity.

Can you prepare electrolyte water at home?

Electrolyte water is also called oral rehydration solution (ORS) and can be prepared at home with simple ingredients taken in calculated amounts.

To prepare one liter of standard electrolyte water you require:

  • Clean drinking water: 1 L
  • Sugar: 6 teaspoons
  • Salt: ½ a teaspoon

Combine salt and sugar into the water thoroughly to produce one liter of electrolyte water. This electrolyte water is free from unnecessary additives, such as flavors and artificial colors. 

You can prepare electrolyte water without using sugar. Add fruit juices, such as lemon juice, pomegranate juice, berry juice, and coconut water to enhance the taste and nutrient content of the water.

QUESTION

According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

5 benefits of electrolyte water

  1. Improves exercise performance
    • Extra fluids are required during physical exercise to replenish the water lost via perspiration (sweating). Even a one to two percent loss of body weight in water can result in diminished strength, speed, and attention. Sweat includes electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, as well as trace quantities of calcium and magnesium.
    • While doing intensive exercise, consume electrolyte-enhanced water rather than drinking tap water to replenish the electrolytes lost through perspiration. This will assist the heart, brain, and muscles to perform better.
  2. Boosts water intake
    • Drinking electrolyte water reduces dehydration because salt promotes the body's ability to retain water. Getting enough water is crucial when exercising or when you are outside on a hot day to keep your body temperature down. 
    • Drinking water at regular intervals rather than waiting until you are thirsty is the best approach to keep the body hydrated.
    • Dehydration symptoms include weariness, dizziness, and dark urine.
  3. Rehydrates you during illness
    • Vomiting and diarrhea are typically not significant problems in the short term. However, if fluids and electrolytes are not supplied during severe or persistent vomiting and diarrhea, you may soon develop dehydration.
    • To avoid dehydration, doctors recommend drinking electrolyte-enhanced water at the earliest indications of sickness. Sports drinks are similar but contain more sugar. They are not advised because the sugar may aggravate the condition.
    • Importantly, electrolyte drinks may not be sufficient to cure severe dehydration. Seek medical attention if your illness lasts more than 24 hours or if you are unable to keep enough fluid intake.
  4. Prevents heat stroke
    • Heat-related disorders, such as moderate heat rash or life-threatening heatstroke, put you in danger.
    • Usually, your body controls heat by sweating and expelling excess heat through sweating. However, in hot conditions, this cooling mechanism may begin to malfunction or not suffice, leading to an increase in body temperature to dangerously high levels.
    • In hot climates, avoiding outside time and drinking sufficient fluids and electrolytes are critical to keeping your body cool.
    • Electrolyte-enhanced water is preferred for hydration in hot situations over other beverages. Drinks containing sugar and caffeine, such as soda, coffee, and tea, may aggravate the condition.
  5. Supports nervous system functions
    • Understanding the significance of regular hydration keeps you safe. Even little dehydration can result in diminished cognitive ability, reduced attention and alertness, and delayed reaction times. The response time of someone with three percent dehydration is found to be similar with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent.
    • The nervous system is a complicated network of nerves and specialized cells that send information from the brain to the rest of your body. Electrolytes are essential in this communication mechanism.

4 myths associated with electrolyte water

  1. Drinking excess water is enough during summer
    • The fluid equilibrium is crucial to overall health and fitness. Any fluid imbalance can cause dehydration, which can get severe to the point of disease. During hot, humid summer days, you may sweat more than normal, even if you are not doing anything.
    • Therefore, you must maintain electrolyte balance by drinking electrolyte drinks, especially during hot summers. Chilled water will just provide a momentary feel-good impact and will not contribute to fluid balance. 
    • Nonetheless, if you take sufficient electrolytes through foods and other beverages, you do not need to necessarily have electrolyte water.
  2. Only athletes require electrolyte water
    • Many physiological systems rely on electrolytes to work effectively, and they are crucial for everyone and not just for athletes to be healthy.
  3. Glucose water is enough to get energy and hydration
    • Hydration and energy are not the same. Electrolytes enhance hydration and help the body maintain its water balance, whereas carbs offer energy. 
    • High-sugar beverages or glucose water give quick bursts of energy but lack electrolytes for hydration. Excessive sugar or glucose beverages may lead to an energy slump and a dry mouth. This makes you thirstier and increases your desire to drink more of it over and over. Long-term use of high-sugar beverages could be harmful to your health.
    • Look for a drink that has a good combination of electrolytes, vitamins, and carbs to meet your hydration and energy needs.
  4. All beverages with electrolytes are safe for consumption
    • Every electrolyte drink is produced differently. The electrolyte drink could be contaminated during the supply chain and production process or raw materials and manufacturing facilities include forbidden compounds. 
    • Consuming prohibited drugs with electrolytes can do more damage than good and will have a detrimental influence on your health and performance. Even the most prestigious commercial electrolytes-infused drinks may sometimes be declared unsafe by authorities due to contamination.

Bottom line

  • Women should consume 9 cups of water per day to be hydrated, whereas men should drink 12 cups per day.
  • Drink at least two cups of water before performing any activity and one cup every 20 minutes while you exercise, especially if you are in a hot area or doing exercise for longer hours.
  • You must check the contents of store-bought electrolyte drinks. Some drinks may contain more sodium than your daily 2300-mg requirement.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/21/2022
References
Image Source: iStock image

Electrolytes: Understanding Replacement Options. https://www.acefitness.org/certifiednewsarticle/715/electrolytes-understanding-replacement-options/

What are Electrolytes? https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/electrolytes.html

Electrolyte Drinks: Beneficial or Not? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/electrolyte-drinks-beneficial-or-not/

How do I prepare an Oral Rehydration Salts ORS solution at home? https://rehydrate.org/faq/how-to-prepare-ors.htm