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The 10 Best Natural Electrolyte Drinks for Everyday Hydration

By Betsy Schroeder, Lifestyle Writer
July 15, 2021
Diana Grytsku/ Shutterstock.com
Diana Grytsku/ Shutterstock.com

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 which drinks are 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. [3]

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. [4]

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. [3]

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. [5]

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: 

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Spasms or twitching
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Swelling or bloating
  • Racing heart or irregular heartbeat
  • Rapid blood pressure changes
  • Seizures 

These symptoms were seen in a study that reviewed nearly 1,000 patients who were admitted to the ER for electrolyte imbalances. [6] 

The 10 Best Natural Electrolyte Drinks for Everyday Hydration image

How to Find Paleo-Friendly Electrolyte 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, etc. 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 some ideas for Paleo approved hydration:

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. [7] You can even make bone broth “lattes” by adding coconut milk, turmeric, and other spices. 

2. Coconut water

Coconut water is a great source of both sodium and potassium in an ideal ratio. [8] 

3. Smoothies with avocados or bananas

Avocados and bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium. [9, 10] Plus, they add a wonderful creamy texture to smoothies.

4. Lemon and/or Lime enhanced water

Lemon and lime juices are naturally rich in key electrolyte minerals, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. [11] Add a twist of your favorite citrus to a glass of water and drink up.

5. Plantain powder drink

Plantains are fruits that are related to bananas. They can be dried and pulverized into a fine powder and used as an effective rehydration drink. [12, 13]

6. Green drinks

Add kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or beet greens to your smoothie or pressed juice. These greens are rich in minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium. [14, 15, 16]

7. Celery Juice

Celery is rich in the electrolyte minerals potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium. Juice a cup of chopped celery and dilute with water to taste. [17]

8. Beetroot drinks

Beets, like all roots, are a great source of electrolytes and other minerals. [18] You can enjoy beets as a juice, either store-bought or freshly pressed. 

9. Paleo Kale Cucumber Smoothie

The greens, lemons, and celery provide potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Find the recipe here. 

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. [19]

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.

The 10 Best Natural Electrolyte Drinks for Everyday Hydration image
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References:

[1] Jéquier, E., & Constant, F. (2010). Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration. European journal of clinical nutrition, 64(2), 115–123. https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2...;

[2] 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...;

[3] 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...;

[4] BMJ Publishing Group. (May 30, 2021). Overview of acid-base and electrolyte disorders. BMJ Best Practice website. Retrieved from: https://bestpractice.bmj.com/t...;

[5] Chemocare. (n.d.). Electrolyte Imbalance. Chemocare website. Retrieved from: http://chemocare.com/chemother...;

[6] 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...;

[7] Hsu D- jen, Lee C- wei, Tsai W- choung, Chien Y- chung. Essential and toxic metals in animal bone broths. fnr [Internet]. 2017Jul.18 [cited 2021Jul.13];610. Available from: https://foodandnutritionresear...;

[8] 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...;

[9] Dreher, M. L., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 53(7), 738–750. https://doi.org/10.1080/104083...;

[10] U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2018). SR Legacy Foods: Bananas, raw. FoodData Central website. Retrieved from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-a...;

[11] U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2018). SR Legacy Foods: Lemon juice, raw. FoodData Central website. Retrieved from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-a...;

[12] 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...;

[13] Arias, M. M., Alcaráz, G. M., Bernal, C., & González, G. (1997). Oral rehydration with a plantain flour-based solution in children dehydrated by acute diarrhea: a clinical trial. Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway: 1992), 86(10), 1047–1051. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1651...;

[14] Ods.od.nih.gov. 2011. Office of Dietary Supplements -Calcium. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 2021 June 29].

[15] Ods.od.nih.gov. 2011. Office of Dietary Supplements - Magnesium. [online] Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factshe...

[16] Ods.od.nih.gov. 2011. Office of Dietary Supplements - Potassium. [online] Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factshe...;

[17] U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2018). SR Legacy Foods: Celery, raw. FoodData Central website. Retrieved from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-a...;

[18] U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2018). SR Legacy Foods: Beets, raw. FoodData Central website. Retrieved from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-a...;

[19] U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2018). SR Legacy Foods: Dates, medjool. FoodData Central website. Retrieved from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-a...;

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