With summer at its peak and the sun at its zenith, it's a great time to do a little thinking about electrolytes. These naturally occurring substances - minerals such as sodium, potassium and chloride - are present in all our body fluids; they are also called ions because they carry an electrical charge. By maintaining electrical gradients across cell membranes throughout our body, they play a vital role in nerve impulse transition, muscle contraction and many other imperative processes that are required for life. Because we lose these salts when we sweat during intense exercise or exposure to heat, it is extremely important that we find ways to replenish them.
The repercussions of not doing so can be dangerous -- even deadly. But think again before you reach for a sport's drink or vitamin water. These drinks not only deliver unnecessary amounts of calories, sugar and sodium -- but are also often packed full of harmful ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors and preservatives. You might think you are doing a good thing by replenishing electrolytes when drinking these beverages, but instead you are setting yourself up for a sugar crash and pumping your body full of questionable things.
So, how should one replenish electrolytes? The answer is very simple, inexpensive and involves nothing artificial of any kind: brew yourself up some herbal electrolyte replenishing tea. There are a plethora of herbs to choose from (from nettles and red clover to alfalfa) and most contain minerals in concentrations very close to that found in our own blood stream. They taste great, contain no high fructose corn syrup and will deliver nothing artificial or nasty into your body. I promise once you start, you will never be tempted by the neon sugar water marketed as "sports drinks' again. Here's two easy recipes to get you started:
Nettle Tea with Peppermint and LimeMakes 1 quart. Ingredients
- 1/2 cup dried nettle leaf
- 1/4 cup dried red clover flowers
- 1/4 cup oat straw
- 1/8 cup peppermint, spearmint or a combination
- juice of 1 lime
- Place the herbs in a quart sized container (a glass mason jar works well) and cover with 1 quart of just boiled water. Let infuse several hours or overnight.
- Strain the herbs out by pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container. Squeeze the lime juice into the tea and refrigerate until use. The tea can be lightly sweetened to taste with honey or stevia.
Hibiscus PunchMakes 1 quart. Ingredients
- 4 tablespoons hibiscus flowers
- 1 tablespoon orange peel, dried or fresh
- 4 slices fresh ginger root
- 1/8 teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
- juice of 1 orange
Directions Place the herbs in quart sized container and cover with 1 quart just boiled water. Let infuse 15 to 20 minutes and then pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container to remove the herbs. Squeeze the orange juice into the tea and sweeten with honey or stevia to taste. Refrigerate until use.