8 Healthy Drinks Rich in Electrolytes
Electrolytes are minerals that conduct an electrical charge when mixed with water. They help regulate a variety of your body's most essential functions, including nerve signaling, pH balance, muscle contraction, and hydration (1Trusted Source).
The primary electrolytes that your body uses to carry out these vital functions are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, chloride, and bicarbonate (1Trusted Source).
The concentration of electrolytes in your blood and other bodily fluids is maintained within a very tight range. If your electrolyte levels become too high or too low, serious health complications can arise.
Daily electrolyte and fluid losses occur naturally through sweat and other waste products. Therefore, it's important to regularly replenish them with a mineral-rich diet.
However, certain activities or situations — such as heavy exercise or bouts of diarrhea or vomiting — can increase how many electrolytes you lose and may warrant the addition of an electrolyte drink to your routine.
Here are 8 electrolyte-rich beverages you may want to add to your health and wellness tool kit.
1. Coconut Water
Coconut water, or coconut juice, is the clear liquid found inside of a coconut.
Over the past several years, it has become one of the most popular beverages on the market, and it's now bottled and sold worldwide.
Coconut water is naturally low in sugar and contains a variety of electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium (2).
Coconut water is naturally low in calories and sugar yet rich in electrolytes like potassium and magnesium.
When it comes to electrolyte drinks, cow's milk is somewhat of an unsung hero. Contrary to popular belief, milk can be used for a lot more than breakfast cereal or coffee.
In addition to its rich supply of electrolytes like calcium, sodium, and potassium, milk provides a healthy combination of carbs and protein. These two macronutrients can help you refuel and promote muscle tissue repair after a workout (3, 4Trusted Source).
Some research suggests that these characteristics could make milk a better post-workout beverage than many commercial sports drinks — and at a fraction of the price (5Trusted Source).
Given that milk's benefits are driven by its electrolyte, carb, and protein content, you may choose whole, low-fat, or skim milk, depending on your personal preference.
It's worth noting that regular cow's milk may not be the right choice for everyone — especially those who are following a vegan diet or intolerant to dairy products.
If you're lactose intolerant but still want to include milk in your workout recovery regimen, opt for a lactose-free version.
Meanwhile, if you adhere to a vegan diet or have a milk protein allergy, you should avoid milk completely.
While plant-based alternatives likely won't offer the same benefits as cow's milk, some research has shown that the protein in soy milk may aid muscle repair while providing an electrolyte profile similar to that of cow's milk (6, 7Trusted Source).
Milk is a good source of electrolytes, as well as protein and carbs, making it a good post-workout beverage.
3. Watermelon Water (and Other Fruit Juices)
Though the name may suggest otherwise, watermelon water is simply the juice that comes from a watermelon.
One cup (237 ml) of 100% watermelon juice provides almost 6% of the Daily Value (DV) for potassium and magnesium while offering small amounts of other electrolytes like calcium and phosphorus (8).
Watermelon juice also contains L-citrulline. When used at supplemental doses, this amino acid may enhance oxygen transport and athletic performance (9Trusted Source).
However, current research suggests that the amount of L-citrulline in regular watermelon juice probably isn't enough to have any measurable effect on exercise performance (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
One of the main drawbacks of using fruit juice as an electrolyte replacement drink is that it's typically low in sodium.
If you're sweating for a prolonged period and attempt to rehydrate with a beverage that doesn't contain sodium, you risk developing low sodium blood levels (16Trusted Source).
To mitigate this risk, some people like to make their own sports drinks using a combination of fruit juices, salt, and water.
Watermelon and other fruit juices contain several electrolytes but are typically low in sodium and high in sugar.
Smoothies are an excellent way to mix a variety of electrolyte-rich foods into one drinkable concoction.
Some of the best sources of electrolytes come from whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and dairy products — all of which can be blended to make a delicious and nutritious smoothie.
If you're getting over a stomach bug and want to replace lost electrolytes, a smoothie may be easier to digest and more appetizing than many of the aforementioned foods on their own.
Smoothies are also a great option for anyone looking for a post-workout recovery drink. They can not only replace lost electrolytes but also be a good way to support muscle tissue growth and repair if you include some protein-rich additions.
However, a smoothie may not be the best option if you're looking for an electrolyte drink to consume in the middle of heavy or prolonged exercise.
That's because it has the potential to leave you feeling too full to comfortably complete your workout. Thus, it's probably best reserved for at least 1 hour before or immediately following your exercise routine.
Smoothies allow you to obtain electrolytes from blended, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. They're a great pre- or post-workout recovery beverage.
5. Electrolyte-Infused Waters
Electrolyte-infused water can be a great, low-calorie way to replenish electrolytes and keep you well hydrated.
Still, not all electrolyte waters are created equal.
In the United States, most standard tap water contains about 2–3% of your daily needs for certain electrolytes, such as sodium, calcium, and magnesium (17).
Interestingly, certain brands of electrolyte-enhanced bottled water can be very costly and don't contain significantly more electrolytes — and in some cases even less.
That said, some brands are specifically designed to assist with hydration and mineral replacement and contain higher quantities of electrolytes. These are more likely to be worth your money, depending on why you're drinking an electrolyte beverage in the first place.
Keep in mind that these kinds of waters are also likely to be packed with sugar, as many of them are designed to replenish carb stores during prolonged exercise. If you're not in the market for those extra sugar calories, opt for brands with little or no added sugar.
You may also try adding freshly cut or muddled fruit and herbs to your water bottle to create your own flavored, electrolyte-infused water.
Electrolyte-infused waters can be great low-calorie hydration options, but be mindful about the brands that contain large quantities of added sugar.
6. Electrolyte Tablets
Electrolyte tablets are a convenient, inexpensive, and portable way to make your own electrolyte drink no matter where you are.
All you have to do is drop one of the tablets in some water and shake or stir to mix.
Most electrolyte tablets contain sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium — though the exact quantities may vary depending on the brand.
They also tend to be low calorie, have little to no added sugar, and come in a variety of unique, fruity flavors.
Certain brands of electrolyte tablets may also contain caffeine or supplemental doses of vitamins, so be sure to check the label if you want to avoid any of those extra ingredients.
If you can't find electrolyte tablets locally or are hoping for a more affordable price, they're widely available online.
Electrolyte tablets are a convenient and affordable option for making your own electrolyte drink. All you have to do is mix a tablet with water.
7. Sports Drinks
Commercially sold sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade have been among the most popular electrolyte drinks on the market since the 1980s.
These beverages can come in handy for endurance athletes who need the combination of easily digestible carbs, fluid, and electrolytes to maintain hydration and energy throughout an athletic event or training session.
Yet, commercial sports drinks also carry some major drawbacks. They tend to contain a lot of artificial colors, flavors, and added sugar, which aren't wholly necessary for anyone — whether you're an athlete or not.
Plus, sugar-free versions may not be a much better alternative.
Though they don't contain added sugar and have fewer calories, they usually contain sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners instead. These sweeteners may contribute to uncomfortable digestive symptoms, such as gas and bloating in some people (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
One simple way to avoid the less-than-favorable ingredients in sports drinks is to make your own.
Simply use a combination of 100% fruit juice, coconut water, and a pinch of salt to create a healthier electrolyte beverage without the artificial ingredients and added sugar.
Commercial sports drinks can be good for refueling and replenishing electrolytes during intense exercise, but they're often high in sugar and artificial colors and flavors. Try making a healthier version at home.
Pedialyte is a commercial electrolyte drink marketed for children, but adults may use it, too.
It's designed to be a rehydration supplement when you're experiencing fluid losses due to diarrhea or vomiting. It's much lower in sugar than a typical sports drink, and sodium, chloride, and potassium are the only electrolytes it includes.
Each variety contains only 9 grams of sugar, but the flavored options also contain artificial sweeteners. If you want to avoid artificial sweeteners, opt for an unflavored version (23).
Pedialyte is a rehydration supplement that only contains sodium, chloride, and potassium. It's intended for children or adults to replenish electrolytes during a bout of diarrhea or vomiting.
Is an electrolyte drink right for you?
Sports drinks and other types of electrolyte beverages are frequently marketed to the general public, but they're probably not necessary for most people.
In fact, regular intake of some high-calorie, high-sugar electrolyte drinks could make it more difficult for you to reach your health goals, especially if they're not being used for their intended purpose.
Most healthy, moderately active people can stay hydrated and obtain adequate amounts of electrolytes by eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet and drinking plenty of water.
That said, there are specific instances when you may be at a greater risk of becoming dehydrated, and plain food and water just won't cut it.
If you're engaging in continuous, vigorous physical activity for longer than 60 minutes, spending extended periods in a very hot environment, or experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, an electrolyte drink may be necessary.
If you're not sure whether you're hydrating properly, watch for these signs of mild to moderate dehydration (25Trusted Source):
- dry mouth and tongue
- dry skin
- muscle weakness
- dark urine
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms and consuming adequate fluids, it may be time to incorporate an electrolyte beverage into your routine.
If these symptoms worsen, consult your healthcare provider.
Most people can maintain fluid and electrolyte balance from water and a balanced diet alone. Still, if you're engaging in prolonged, intense physical activity or experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, an electrolyte drink may be warranted.
The Bottom Line
Electrolytes are minerals that help your body carry out a variety of vital functions, such as hydration, muscle contractions, pH balance, and nerve signaling.
To function properly, your body must maintain adequate levels of fluid and electrolytes at all times.
Beverages like coconut water, milk, fruit juice, and sports drinks can all contribute to hydration and electrolyte balance.
For most people, a balanced diet and adequate water intake is enough to maintain electrolyte levels. However, some instances may warrant the use of electrolyte drinks, particularly if you're experiencing rapid fluid losses due to sweating or illness.
Drinking plenty of water and watching for early signs of dehydration can help you determine whether adding an electrolyte beverage to your routine is right for you.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
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