My kids get embarrassed when I sing the old tune, "Summertime, When The Weather is Hot". This is the time of year when we are faced with hot and humid days of summer, hopefully able to hang by a pool or lake, or escape to air conditioning. Or, you can be like we were yesterday at a baseball tournament in the sweltering heat and humidity.
I realize kids like to drink the typical "electrolyte" type drinks like Gatorade, Powerade and Vitaminwater, but they are the worst selections when it comes to proper hydration in sweltering heat conditions. Keep in mind, these companies are owned by PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, they dominate the advertising market convincing kids and adults that their drinks are the best out there. Don't be fooled any longer, look at the contents of these drinks and you will find an abundance of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, caffeine, artificial sweeteners and colors and more synthetic ingredients (like vitamins) that are not only worthless to the body but possibly harmful causing cramping and headaches from all the sugar and additives, let alone the erosive effect on the teeth. You may as well just hand them a soda!
Electrolytes, Why Do We Need Them?
Many athletic events do not require such an abundance of electrolyte drink replacements unless intensely exercising for over an hour or more, such as marathons and iron man races. Electrolytes are your "ions" that help to control the fluid pressure inside the cells and control the pH of the blood. The most commonly recognized ions are salts, potassium and magnesium minerals, and when depleted in excessive activity can cause muscle cramping.
So what is the best choice?
Unfortunately our water supply is not enough to replenish the amount of electrolytes that may be lost in excessive activity, especially with bottled waters and treated waters from our faucets, not like it use to be from wells which brought water from the ground with natural minerals. That's not to say hydrating prior to events with water isn't good, in fact it is a must do! Our bodies are made up of 60% water, we need to keep it hydrated. Starting the night before any events, you should be consuming extra water in addition to the normal 8 cups a day for the average man or women (less for a child). With any activity drinking water before, during and after should be the routine. For during and after the activity, drinks with electrolytes is advised, one of the best in my opinion is Coconut Water (with nothing added, look at your labels). This has great natural electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants and phytonutrients, and naturally low in sugar! I like to combine this with Smart Water, a vapor distilled water with electrolytes, the best bottled water for during and after exercise. If you are in more intense activity with heavier sweat loss, you may need to go to the more formulated products.
Home made electrolyte drinks are fun to make.
Here is one: squeeze two Lemon halves into a glass, add 2 Orange halves, a squirt of Honey, Four Shakes of Salt, Fill the Glass with Water and drink or place in a travel container for on the go. Go online for more homemade electrolyte drink recipes.
Make the Change
Be brave enough to not get caught up in the media with the sugary electrolyte drinks. Promote the benefits of good old fashion water to your child and yourself, set a good example. Once in a while they can drink the other drinks, just in moderation and with water too! I have observed kids downing 2 - 3 of these branded drinks at one event. Bring a watermelon or orange slices in a cooler for during and after the events. Kids will thoroughly enjoy the fruit much better than any old drink and will be getting nature's best with natural hydration to boot.
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