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Deliciously Healthy Alternatives to Sugary, Nasty Sports Drinks

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Ever since we were children we have watched the commercials and seen the advertisements reassuring us that strong athletes drink “sports” drinks when competing. What these companies do not tell us is the added sugars, sweeteners, food dyes and artificial ingredients that are also in these drinks.

For example, one bottle of G Series Thirst Quencher orange Gatorade, which is 12-fluid ounces contains a total of 52.5 grams of sugar! The label states that the bottle contains 2.5 servings and 21 grams of sugar per serving, therefore, a total of 52.5 grams of sugar.

Furthermore, the bottle of sports drink contains mystery ingredients such as; dextrose, natural flavor, phosphate, gum arabic, sucrose acetate isobutyrate, glycerol ester of rosin and yellow 6 (yellow food dye).

In an effort to avoid the incredibly high amounts of sugar and mystery ingredients found in sports drinks, athletes can look to the wide assortment of healthy, natural electrolyte-filled drinks such as coconut water, aloe water, cactus water and watermelon water.

Why Drink Electrolytes During/After Exercise?

During exercise, the body will sweat water and minerals to cool down and prevent heat exhaustion. The water and minerals lost during exercise must be restored in order for the body to create balance and function properly. As a result, companies began creating sports drinks that contained electrolyte minerals, carbohydrates and water to provide exercisers with an optimal source of fuel.

The problem, however, occurred when high amounts of sugar and unhealthy, mystery ingredients were introduced to the mix. Who wants to guzzle down sugar and food dye when they are trying to improve their health and exercise?

Listed below are several healthy, natural electrolyte-filled drinks that will re-hydrate you, taste great and do your body good! Give these a try the next time you exercise and see how you feel.

1. Coconut Water

The coconut water beverage is one that has become quite popular among health enthusiasts. Coconut water is said to offer an assortment of health benefits including antioxidants, phytonutrients, natural enzymes, naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, and much more.

One of the greatest benefits athletes enjoy when consuming coconut water is the naturally occurring electrolyte minerals. Minerals such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur and manganese are all available in coconut water. These minerals re-hydrate and create balance in the body. For additional information on coconut water, click here to learn the benefits of coconut water vs. water.

Keep in mind: Not all coconut water beverages are created equally. The brand of coconut water that you choose will determine that health benefits that the specific brand of drink offers. Some drinks may have been pasteurized and heated, some contain mystery ingredients, some contain added juices and flavors. There are many different coconut water options so make sure to read the ingredients list and the nutrition label to ensure optimal health.

2. Watermelon Water

We all love enjoying a fresh bowl of watermelon after a long, hot day. Why not try a bottle of watermelon water. The ingredients included in watermelon water includes an assortment of watermelon flesh, grind and often times  the addition of a lemon.

Watermelon water boasts six times the amount of electrolytes of a standard sports drink and it includes benefits such as L-Citrulline, vitamin C, lycopene and antioxidants. The electrolyte minerals in watermelons include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, lycopene and betaine.

If you do not wish to purchase watermelon water, you can also make your own. Try blending watermelon flesh with some lime or lemon juice, and a touch of mint. For added sweetness, you can also add natural, organic sugar.

3. Aloe Water

Aloe water is a drink created from the aloe vera plant, which is well-known for its healing properties. Aloe vera has been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. In an effort to offer the beneficial properties of aloe vera, the plant has been broken down into a beverage to create an easy to drink method of consumption.

The same way that aloe vera heals the exterior layer of the skin after a sunburn, the plant is able to heal the interior layers of the body.

Aloe vera water contains vitamin B12, folate, choline, copper and potassium, 20 amino acids and seven of the eight essential amino acids. In addition, aloe vera water boasts anti-inflammatory properties that aid in constipation and heartburn.

4. Cactus Water

Water derived from the cactus plant is well-known as a naturally hydrating, plant-based drink. Cactus water contains hydrating antioxidants, naturally occurring electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals, it is low in sugar and does not contain food dyes.

Cactus water is known for its hydrating effect and anti-inflammatory properties.

Non-GMO brands of cactus water to try include Caliwater and TrueNopal.

5. Homemade Hydrating, Electrolyte Beverages

There are a number of electrolyte-filled foods available that can be created into homemade, hydrating beverages. Citrus foods such as lemon, lime, and orange offer electrolytes and are great to add to any drink. Bananas are filled with potassium, along with additional electrolyte minerals and vitamins. Vegetable such as celery, kale and cucumber are also refreshing sources of natural hydration and taste great with a natural sweetener.

Try creating your own hydrating drink combinations using ingredients such as:

  • Apple
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Watermelon flesh
  • Sea salt
  • Baking soda
  • Maple syrup
  • Bananas
  • Kale
  • Almond milk
  • Natural sugar

 

If you’re looking for some awesome natural energy drink recipes, click here. Alternatively, for healthy, plant-based electrolyte filled food options, click here.

Maintaining proper hydration is very important, regardless of whether you are exercising, sweating profusely, or outdoors for a long period of time. Always be conscious of your water consumption. Feeling thirsty should not be the only indicator that you need to drink water. The minimum amount of water to drink each day is eight cups. If you are sweating or exercising this amount should be increased.

Lead image source: Wikimedia Commons 

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