We have been in the full throngs of girls’ softball since March. Summer months mean travel ball and many weekday practices, weekend tournaments, long days in the hot sun, and lots of food.
The relationship between sports and food goes way back for both players and spectators. And let’s face it, the choices for both groups are usually not very healthy. Sugary Cracker Jacks, hot dogs, nachos with fake cheese, and sodas for the people watching, and lots of “sports drinks” for the players. Yuck!
As you can imagine, while I love sports (Go Warriors! Go Giants!), I am not a fan of commercial “sports drinks,” which consist mostly of chemically laden tap water, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavors and colors. There’s nothing nourishing about them. In fact, they deplete your body of the exact same nutrients they are supposed to provide.
So how does an athlete — or any active soul — stay hydrated when running around and sweating in the sun?
3 Easy Steps to Staying Hydrated Naturally
There are 3 easy steps you can take to stay hydrated naturally during periods of activity and heat during the warm summer months (or any time of year).
- As a dietary rule, be sure to eat plenty of healthy fats like butter, coconut oil, and avocado. A 2010 study of cyclists showed significantly longer “time to exhaustion” after ingesting a food with medium chain triglycerides (MCT), the main fat in coconut oil. Fats also work synergistically with the H2O you take in through filtered water and water-rich foods such as vegetables and fruits to keep you hydrated. (This is why fats are so good for your skin.) Likewise, avocadoes and coconut are rich sources of electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium. In fact, avocados make a great snack for my daughter when taking a break between games because of those electrolytes as well as vitamins B6 and C.
- Consume mineral rich foods everyday and especially on active days. These include vegetables and seaweeds, bone broths, and meat and dairy from pasture-raised animals. If you start your activity already at a deficit, you will get dehydrated much faster, plus you will have more difficulty recovering. Muscles -- including your heart -- need minerals (electrolytes) to contract and relax.
- Make your own sports drink! Not only is it far healthier than commercial sports drinks, it’s also way more economical. Depending on one’s activity level, I like to dilute the recipe below, especially for children and adolescents who are accustomed to the sweet taste of commercial electrolyte-replacement beverages. My daughter’s softball team this spring actually preferred the taste of the homemade version below to the commercial one.
Homemade Sports Drink
There are many variations to homemade sports drinks. Our favorite is this one, which was adapted from one given to me by my awesome colleague, Craig Lane, an herbalist and nutritionist in Santa Cruz.
1 quart filtered water, coconut water, or herbal tea, such as rooibos, honeybush, peppermint, or ginger (or any combination of these liquids to make 1 qt)
1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
freshly-squeezed juice of 3-4 limes or 1-2 lemons
1-2 Tbspn raw honey
5-10 drops Stevia extract (to taste)
1/2 tsp PRL Coral Legend* or 1/2 tsp PRL Polar Mins*
1 dropperful of Standard Process Phosfood*
*available for purchase at my office or through any licensed health care distributor
Place all contents into a quart-sized BPA-free container such as a glass mason jar. Stir/shake well and sweeten to taste. Keep chilled. Will last up to 7 days when refrigerated.
A note about Coconut Water
Many people swear by the health benefits of coconut water. Certainly, if you can find a high-quality organic source, it does contain many beneficial nutrients, however, it can also add quite a strain to the family budget which may already be suffering from the cost of the activities themselves. Personally, I save coconut water for especially hot days (>90º F) and stick to filtered water or tea for the rest of the time.
Color me Naturally
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