The 10 Best Natural Electrolyte Drinks for Everyday Hydration
There’s one thing that all health experts seem to agree on: the importance of staying hydrated.
We covered an interesting debate on whether to pre-hydrate or drink according to thirst in an earlier post. But what does it mean to be hydrated? Is it simply about water intake? What about electrolytes?
In this post, we’ll get into why electrolytes are vital to hydration, and what are the best natural hydration drinks approved by The Paleo Diet®.
What Is Hydration?
Water is essential to human health. Making sure that your body has an optimal level of fluid can help you keep a normal body temperature, move waste along, and maintain healthy tissues. The nervous system and joints also need proper hydration to function at their best. [1, 2]
However, hydration is not just a matter of taking water into the body. To reap the benefits of hydration, it is just as important that the water gets into your cells. Otherwise, you’ll keep heading to the bathroom, and flushing out the same water. That’s where electrolytes come in.
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals that become electrically charged when dissolved in water. Sodium, potassium, chloride and bicarbonate are all examples of electrolytes, and they exist in saliva, blood, sweat, and urine to help maintain fluid balance in our bodies, helping you stay hydrated. 
Electrolytes also keep our acids and bases (pH) in balance, which is key for good health. Acidosis, an accumulation of too much acid in your body fluids, and alkalosis, an accumulation of too much base, are both associated with multiple health issues and, in severe cases, even death. 
Electrolytes also help move water and nutrients into the cells and wastes out of the cells. Because they have either a positive or negative charge, electrolytes (as their name implies) are vital for electrical activity in the body. This especially affects the cardiovascular and nervous systems. It also affects the ability of muscles to contract and relax. 
What Causes Low or Imbalanced Electrolytes?
Common causes of low electrolytes are anything that causes you to lose fluids. This could be increased sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, and the use of certain herbal or pharmaceutical diuretics. You could also have low electrolytes as the result of having certain conditions, like gut malabsorption, kidney disorders, liver disorders, and even heart disease. 
Overeating processed foods or foods high in sodium are also possible causes of imbalanced electrolytes. Too much sodium without adequate intake of potassium, magnesium, and other electrolytes can throw your body out of balance.
How Do You Know If You’re Lacking Electrolytes?
Symptoms of low electrolytes can vary quite a bit, depending on how severely you’re depleted. They include:
- Numbness or tingling
- Muscle weakness
- Spasms or twitching
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling or bloating
- Racing heart or irregular heartbeat
- Rapid blood pressure changes
These symptoms were seen in a study that reviewed nearly 1,000 patients who were admitted to the ER for electrolyte imbalances. 
Best Natural Hydration Drinks
As you may already know, The Paleo Diet does not include added sugar or salt, which are staples in typical commercial electrolyte drinks or powders. It also doesn’t include anything artificial: colors, flavors, synthetic vitamins, et cetera. So Gatorade® is definitely out!
What you want to look for, then, is a beverage that is completely natural and rich in minerals and only small amounts of naturally occurring sugars.
Here are the best natural hydration drinks for Paleo dieters.
1. Bone broth. While you can buy a carton at the store, bone broth is healthier (and cheaper) when you make it yourself. Bone broth is a source of the electrolytes calcium and magnesium.  You can even make bone broth “lattes” by adding coconut milk, turmeric, and other spices.
2. Coconut water is a great source of both sodium and potassium in an ideal ratio.  It is widely known as one of the best natural hydration drinks out there and works great for athletes who need to rehydrate after a workout.
3. Smoothies with avocados or bananas will add a wonderful creamy texture as well as ample amounts of potassium and magnesium. [9, 10]
4. Lemon- or lime-enhanced water. Lemon and lime juices are naturally rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium.  Add a twist of your favorite citrus to a glass of water and drink up.
5. Plantain powder drink. Plantains are fruits related to bananas. They can be dried and pulverized into a fine powder and used as an effective rehydration drink. [12, 13]
7. Celery juice. Celery is plentiful in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium. Juice a cup of chopped celery and dilute with water to taste. 
8. Beetroot drinks. Beets, like all roots, are a great source of electrolytes and other minerals.  You can enjoy beets as a juice, either store-bought or freshly pressed.
9. Paleo Kale Cucumber Smoothie. The leafy greens, lemons, and celery in this recipe provide healthy doses of potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium.
10. Lemon-lime electrolyte drink. Add ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice, 3-4 Medjool dates, and 5 cups of water to a high-speed blender. Put the lid on and blend until smooth. The dates add potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as natural sweetness. 
The Bottom Line
Staying hydrated isn’t just about drinking water—it also involves getting enough mineral-rich electrolytes. When looking for Paleo-friendly electrolyte drinks, avoid store-bought drinks like Gatorade and turn to natural sources like bone broth, coconut water, or fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies made from beets or dark leafy greens.
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 Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. (January 12, 2021). Water and Healthier Drinks. CDC website: Healthy, Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywei…;
 Medline Plus [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); [updated 2021 June 23]. Fluid and Electrolyte Balance; [updated 2021 April 23; reviewed 2016 June 20; cited 2021 June 28]; Retrieved from: https://medlineplus.gov/fluida…;
 BMJ Publishing Group. (May 30, 2021). Overview of acid-base and electrolyte disorders. BMJ Best Practice website. Retrieved from: https://bestpractice.bmj.com/t…;
 Chemocare. (n.d.). Electrolyte Imbalance. Chemocare website. Retrieved from: http://chemocare.com/chemother…;
 Balcı, A. K., Koksal, O., Kose, A., Armagan, E., Ozdemir, F., Inal, T., & Oner, N. (2013). General characteristics of patients with electrolyte imbalance admitted to emergency department. World journal of emergency medicine, 4(2), 113–116. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.go…;
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 Kalman, D. S., Feldman, S., Krieger, D. R., & Bloomer, R. J. (2012). Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2…;
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 Berna, C., Alcaraz, G. M., Botero, J. E. (2005). [Oral rehydration with a plantain flour-based solution precooked with standardized electrolytes], Biomedia, 25(1), 11-21. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.go…;
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 Ods.od.nih.gov. 2011. Office of Dietary Supplements – Potassium. [online] Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factshe…;
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Betsy does research and writing for a few different websites in the natural health field after taking Masters level courses in Nutrition & Functional Medicine through the University of Western States.More About The Author