Belinda Byrnes' health advice | electrolytes

When we engage in activities that cause us to sweat, these fluids need to be replaced and fresh water is the best way to do this, most of the time. Although important electrolytes found in sweat and other body fluids need to replenished during bouts of extreme exercise, after a prolonged diarrhoea or vomiting, or in very humid weather, when you may lose more fluids than usual.

A common solution is to reach for a brightly coloured sports drink, but these drinks contain huge quantities of sugar, colours, artificial sweeteners and other toxic ingredients. You’d be forgiven for having the impression that they’re a good option for active people, but they’re not a good option for anyone and in my opinion are some of the worst drinks you could consume.

An electrolyte is a substance that conducts electricity when dissolved in water and they’re essential for processes like regulating nerve and muscle function, balancing the pressure and acidity of the blood and repairing damaged tissue. They perform many important functions in the body and an imbalance will result in different symptoms depending on which electrolyte is out of balance. Symptoms can include things like irregular heartbeat, confusion, weakness, twitching, muscle spasms and convulsions.

The electrolytes found in the body include sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride and phosphate. They’re abundant in fresh fruit and vegetables but if you need a cold drink to rapidly replace electrolytes after some strenuous exercise or in hot weather, grab yourself a coconut water! A great source of natural electrolytes and one of the best rehydration drinks money can buy.

If you’re after something more, try this natural rehydration drink that contains all the electrolytes you’ll need.

  • 1-2 cups of coconut water, 1-2 tsp raw honey, pinch of Himalayan salt, juice of 1 lemon and/or lime. Put in a drink bottle with some ice.

Belinda Byrnes is a qualified nutritionist and naturopath. Contact: bbyrnes@iinet.net.au.