Homemade Electrolyte Drink

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I’m old enough to remember when Gatorade® just came in one flavor – lemon-lime. We didn’t drink it too much, only occasionally in the hot Alabama summers when we were playing tennis all day. Since that time there has been an explosion of electrolyte replacements – drinks, powders, bars and chews. While most people frankly don’t need electrolyte replacement, if you are working or exercising outside and sweating profusely for over an hour at a time, you are losing fluid along with key electrolytes such as potassium and sodium. If you are vomiting and/or experiencing diarrhea you are also losing these nutrients through intestinal losses. Unfortunately, diarrhea is a potential side effect of many medications and cancer treatments. Excessive fluid and electrolyte losses through vomiting, diarrhea or profuse sweating can result in dehydration. Dehydration can lead to some very serious complications including fatigue, dizziness, increased heart rate and kidney problems. 

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Water is absorbed in the small intestine through diffusion and passive transport.  The transport of water is improved with the addition of sodium and glucose (sugar) in fluid. Particularly for those with frequent vomiting or diarrhea, the nutrient content of commercial sport drinks is just not sufficient to replace what is lost. Those drinks provide plenty of glucose (sugar) but are relatively low in electrolytes. Plain water doesn’t contain enough electrolytes and fruit juice provides too much sugar (in the form of fructose) and not enough sodium, as well as being too concentrated (hyperosmolar) which can actually worsen diarrhea by drawing fluid into the intestine. But, combining fruit juice, water and salt together in the right proportions will yield a drink that provides the optimal amount of glucose (from fructose), sodium, potassium and of course, fluid.

Information for Pedialyte® and Gatorade® obtained from UpToDate 2018

Grapefruit Electrolyte Drink

This is my husband's favorite! He works outside (or in a building without air conditioning). Temperatures here hit the 90s in May and stay that way until September, and it’s humid! He loves grapefruit juice, which I don’t like, but thinks this drink tastes just like the original Gatorade®. (Note: be sure there you have no medications which interact with grapefruit juice, unfortunately many do!).

Grapefruit Electrolyte Drink

2 cups grapefruit juice
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

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Cherry Lime Electrolyte Drink

1 ½ cups cherry juice (100% juice)
½ cup lime juice
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

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Modifications: If drinking purely as a sport drink, reduce the salt to 1/2-3/4 teaspoon.

 All these are best cold. Bonus: these are a lot cheaper than commercial sports drinks!