If you’ve ever actually accomplished the nearly impossible feat of drinking the recommended amount of water in a day, you probably found yourself constantly rushing to the bathroom. Though annoying, you may think this is a good sign when it comes to staying hydrated. But the thing is, water that’s running straight through you like this doesn’t get fully absorbed by your body. The secret to making sure all that water you’re drinking is getting properly absorbed and helping you stay hydrated is in electrolytes.
When you think of electrolytes, drinks like Gatorade or Pedialyte probably come to mind. Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electromagnetic charge that are needed for a multitude of bodily processes, including hydration. But common electrolyte drinks can be loaded with sugar and other additives. More recently, some drinks and powders that promise increased hydration have been developed without all the added sugar, but these can be expensive. Luckily, there’s an even easier way to get more electrolytes into your daily routine — and it doesn’t cost anything extra.
Sodium is a necessary electrolyte needed by the body that helps increase hydration. As you may already know, salt contains sodium. Sodium helps to regulate the balance of fluids in your body through a process called osmosis, that is required for muscle and nerve function. We lose sodium through our sweat (which is why sodium appears in sports drinks), and also when we’re dehydrated from things like a stomach bug or flu. Adding a little bit of salt to your water helps to increase water retention so your body can actually absorb all the water, as well as the minerals, you’re taking in. The best part is, when you’re absorbing more water, you pee less!
If drinking salt water doesn’t sound so appealing, not to worry, you only need a pinch or two. But if you still want to mask the taste, there are healthy way to add electrolytes, and yummy flavor, to your water.
Start with a pinch of sea salt (sea salt is the least processed and most mineral-rich, so choose sea salts like Celtic or Himalayan salt (like this one from Frontier Co-Op: $4.79, Amazon, or this one from Selena Naturally: $5.70, Amazon) in an eight-ounce glass of water (about ¼ teaspoon will do) and add the juice from half of a lemon or lime to your mix. The citrus will provide you with an added dose of vitamin C to benefits your immune system. Additionally, you can add ¼ cup of coconut water, which contains magnesium — another electrolyte! Magnesium is involved in hundreds of chemical reactions in your body necessary for things like bone, muscle, and connective tissue health, as well as a healthy nervous and digestive system.
Be advised that those with high blood pressure shouldn’t drink salt water, as sodium can raise blood pressure levels. Otherwise, we hope you enjoy the extra energy, improved digestion, better overall health and less trips to the bathroom that comes with being hydrated!