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.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alexander Richard Braczkowski, Christopher O'Bryan, Duan Biggs, and Raymond Jansen
A Cute But Threatened Species<p><a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/what-is-a-pangolin" target="_blank">Pangolins</a> are the only mammals wholly-covered in scales, which they use to protect themselves from predators. They can also curl up into a tight ball.</p><p>They eat mainly ants, termites and larvae which they pick up with their sticky tongue. They can grow up to 1m in length from nose to tail and are sometimes referred to as scaly anteaters.</p><p>But <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128155073000332" title="Chapter 33 - Conservation strategies and priority actions for pangolins" target="_blank">all eight</a> pangolin species are classified as "<a href="https://www.pangolins.org/tag/endangered-species/" target="_blank">threatened</a>" under International Union for Conservation of Nature <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/search?query=pangolin&searchType=species" target="_blank">criteria</a>.</p><p>There is an unprecedented demand for their scales, primarily from countries in Asia and <a href="https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/conl.12389" title="Assessing Africa‐Wide Pangolin Exploitation by Scaling Local Data" target="_blank">Africa</a> where they are used in food, cultural remedies and <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/141072b0" title="Chinese Medicine and the Pangolin" target="_blank">medicine</a>.</p><p>Between 2017 and 2019, seizures of pangolin scales <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/02/pangolin-scale-trade-shipments-growing/" target="_blank">tripled in volume</a>. In 2019 alone, 97 tons of pangolin scales, equivalent to about 150,000 animals, were <a href="https://oxpeckers.org/2020/03/nigeria-steps-up-for-pangolins/" target="_blank">reportedly</a> intercepted leaving Africa.</p>
Reintroduction of an Extinct Species<p>Each year in South Africa the African Pangolin Working Group (<a href="https://africanpangolin.org/" target="_blank">APWG</a>) retrieves between 20 and 40 pangolins through intelligence operations with security forces.</p><p>These pangolins are often-traumatised and injured and are admitted to the <a href="http://www.johannesburgwildlifevet.com/our-hospital" target="_blank">Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital</a> for extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation before they can be considered for release.</p><p>In 2019, seven rescued Temminck's pangolins were reintroduced into South Africa's <a href="https://www.andbeyond.com/destinations/africa/south-africa/kwazulu-natal/phinda-private-game-reserve/" target="_blank">Phinda Private Game Reserve</a> in the KwaZulu Natal Province.</p><p>Nine months on, five have survived. This reintroduction is a world first for a region that last saw a viable population of this species in the 1980s.</p><p>During the release, every individual pangolin followed a strict regime. They needed to become familiar with their new surroundings and be able to forage efficiently.</p>
A ‘Soft Release’ in to the Wild<p>The process on Phinda game reserve involved a more gentle ease into re-wilding a population in a region that had not seen pangolins for many decades.</p><p>The soft release had two phases:</p><ol><li>a pre-release observational period</li><li>an intensive monitoring period post release employing GPS satellite as well as VHF tracking tags.</li></ol>
Why Pangolin Reintroduction is Important<p>We know so little about this group of mammals that are vastly understudied and hold many secrets yet to be discovered by science but are on the verge of collapse.</p><p>The South African and Phinda story is one of hope for the Temminck's pangolin where they once again roam the savanna hills and plains of Zululand.</p><p>The process of relocating these trade animals back into the wild has taken many turns, failures and tribulations but, the recipe of the "soft release" is working.</p>
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By Jake Johnson
In a move that environmentalists warned could further imperil hundreds of endangered species and a protected habitat for the sake of profit, President Donald Trump on Friday signed a proclamation rolling back an Obama-era order and opening nearly 5,000 square miles off the coast of New England to commercial fishing.
Why You Should Wash Fresh Produce<p>Global pandemic or not, properly washing fresh fruits and vegetables is a good habit to practice to minimize the ingestion of potentially harmful residues and germs.</p><p>Fresh produce is handled by numerous people before you purchase it from the grocery store or the farmers market. It's best to assume that not every hand that has touched fresh produce has been clean.</p><p>With all of the people constantly bustling through these environments, it's also safe to assume that much of the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables" target="_blank">fresh produce</a> you purchase has been coughed on, sneezed on, and breathed on as well.</p><p>Adequately washing fresh fruits and vegetables before you eat them can significantly reduce residues that may be left on them during their journey to your kitchen.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Washing fresh fruits and vegetables is a proven way to remove germs and unwanted residues from their surfaces before eating them.</p>
Best Produce Cleaning Methods<p>While rinsing fresh produce with water has long been the traditional method of preparing fruits and veggies before consumption, the current pandemic has many people wondering whether that's enough to really clean them.</p><p>Some people have advocated the use of soap, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/white-vinegar" target="_blank">vinegar</a>, lemon juice, or even commercial cleaners like bleach as an added measure.</p><p>However, health and food safety experts, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), strongly urge consumers not to take this advice and stick with plain water.</p><p>Using such substances may pose further health dangers, and they're unnecessary to remove the most harmful residues from produce. <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/chlorine-poisoning" target="_blank">Ingesting commercial cleaning chemicals</a> like bleach can be lethal and should never be used to clean food.</p><p>Furthermore, substances like lemon juice, vinegar, and produce washes have not been shown to be any more effective at cleaning produce than plain water — and may even leave additional deposits on food.</p><p>While some research has suggested that using neutral electrolyzed water or a baking soda bath can be even more effective at removing certain substances, the consensus continues to be that cool tap water is sufficient in most cases.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>The best way to wash fresh produce before eating it is with cool water. Using other substances is largely unnecessary. Plus they're often not as effective as water and gentle friction. Commercial cleaners should never be used on food.</p>
How to Wash Fruits and Vegetables With Water<p>Washing fresh fruits and vegetables in cool water before eating them is a good practice when it comes to health hygiene and food safety.</p><p>Note that fresh produce should not be washed until right before you're ready to eat it. Washing fruits and vegetables before storing them may create an environment in which bacterial growth is more likely.</p><p>Before you begin washing fresh produce, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-should-you-wash-your-hands" target="_blank">wash your hands well</a> with soap and water. Be sure that any utensils, sinks, and surfaces you're using to prepare your produce are also thoroughly cleaned first.</p><p>Begin by cutting away any bruised or visibly rotten areas of fresh produce. If you're handling a fruit or vegetable that'll be peeled, such as an orange, wash it before peeling it to prevent any surface bacteria from entering the flesh.</p><p>The general methods to wash produce are as follows:</p><ul><li><strong>Firm produce.</strong> Fruits with firmer skins like apples, lemons, and pears, as well as <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/root-vegetables" target="_blank">root vegetables</a> like potatoes, carrots, and turnips, can benefit from being brushed with a clean, soft bristle to better remove residues from their pores.</li><li><strong>Leafy greens.</strong> Spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, leeks, and cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts and bok choy should have their outermost layer removed, then be submerged in a bowl of cool water, swished, drained, and rinsed with fresh water.</li><li><strong>Delicate produce.</strong> Berries, mushrooms, and other types of produce that are more likely to fall apart can be cleaned with a steady stream of water and gentle friction using your fingers to remove grit.</li></ul><p>Once you have thoroughly rinsed your produce, dry it using a clean paper or cloth towel. More fragile produce can be laid out on the towel and gently patted or rolled around to dry them without damaging them.</p><p>Before consuming your fruits and veggies, follow the simple steps above to minimize the amount of germs and substances that may be on them.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p><strong></strong>Most fresh fruits and veggies can gently be scrubbed under cold running water (using a clean soft brush for those with firmer skins) and then dried. It can help to soak, drain, and rinse produce that has more dirt-trapping layers.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>Practicing good food hygiene is an important health habit. Washing fresh produce helps minimize surface germs and residues that could make you sick.</p><p>Recent fears during the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/coronavirus" target="_blank">COVID-19 pandemic</a> have caused many people to wonder whether more aggressive washing methods, such as using soap or commercial cleaners on fresh produce, are better.</p><p>Health professionals agree that this isn't recommended or necessary — and could even be dangerous. Most fruits and vegetables can be sufficiently cleaned with cool water and light friction right before eating them.</p><p>Produce that has more layers and surface area can be more thoroughly washed by swishing it in a bowl of cool water to remove dirt particles.</p><p>Fresh fruits and vegetables offer a number of healthy nutrients and should continue to be eaten, as long as safe cleaning methods are practiced.</p>
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By Danielle Nierenberg
Following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, people around the United States are protesting racism, police brutality, inequality, and violence in their own communities. No matter your political affiliation, the violence by multiple police departments in this country is unacceptable.
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By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas
From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.
When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
Several Different Fungal Hybrids Cause Human Disease.<p>Hybrid fungi that can cause infections in humans are well known to occur in several different lineages of single-celled fungi known as yeasts. Notable examples include multiple different species of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/yea.3242" target="_blank">yeast hybrids</a> that cause the human diseases <a href="https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6218/cryptococcosis" target="_blank">cryptococcosis</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html" target="_blank">candidiasis</a>. Although pathogenic yeast hybrids are well known, our discovery that the <em>A. latus</em> pathogen is a hybrid is a first for molds that cause disease in humans.</p>
(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>