Replacing Electrolytes: Better Options

By Nancy Mehlert, MS.

There are a couple of well known electrolyte and hydration drinks popular in the marketplace today. Everyone has seen commercials and ads for them. Common to the sports scene in our schools, colleges, and professional sports, these sweet, fruity flavored hydrators are sold by some of the largest beverage retailers in the world. In addition, many companies make cheaper knock-offs.  That makes them very affordable and easily obtained, but what about the ingredients? Should we be concerned? ABSOLUTELY!

These beverages, whether you have chosen the zero sugar options, the regular, or even the organic, have a number of concerning ingredients. Sugar content is the first concern.  Remember, the intended goal of these beverages is to return water to the body and to bring electrolytes (sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate and magnesium) back into the body.  The need is not sugar, yet the most popular versions contribute more than 45-50 grams of sugar in each bottle. Considering our optimal blood sugar at any given moment should be about 4 grams, these drinks elevate blood sugar immediately by more than 10 times. This creates a very dysregulated blood sugar problem for the body.  Another concerning ingredient is the sweetener most commonly used in lieu of sugar.  While sucralose removes the sugar, this artificial sweetener is known for destroying the favorable bacteria in the GI tract, contributing to yeast overgrowth and leaky gut syndromes. Two additional concerning ingredients include food dyes and caramel coloring. There are a number of health concerns from these man-made chemicals, ranging from cancers to allergic reactions.  All of these concerning ingredients can be avoided with a little effort.

Perfection is difficult to find.  The recommendations below would be a significant improvement over most options offered by our largest retailers.  I’ve listed them in descending order from satisfactory to the most ideal. The  more sugar it contains, the better it is to use before and during very demanding and high activity exercise. Everyone needs less sugar, more water, and good electrolytes.

  • Nuun Rapid Instant Hydration portable packets
  • Harmless Harvest coconut water (pure coconut water, 23g naturally occurring sugar) ok for very active people
  • – Hydration Powder stick packs
  • Liquid IV (11 g of sugar) ok for very active people
  • – Electrolyte Recovery Plus, Keto approved, Lemonade flavor
  • 8 ounces of water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a pinch of Redmond’s Sea Salt, along with eating your vegetables (an excellent source of electrolytes and water)!

Support your health and that of your family.  Small changes add up to greater health and wellness.

Standard Gatorade, ½ a bottle is 22g or whole bottle 51 g of sugar:  


Organic Thirst Quencher, Berry Flavor by Gatorade – 30 g of sugar:


Gatorade Zero:


By |2021-04-07T09:25:47-05:00April 7th, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Coconut Water is all the rage. But is it good for you?????

by Nancy Mehlert, MScoconut water

Coconut waters have hit the grocery store aisles in the last year or two.  Every time I walk by them, there are more brands, more flavors.  So are they a good choice?  Certainly relative to a soft drink filled with phosphoric acid, caramel colors and sugar or artificial sweeteners I would have to say they are an improvement.  And most certainly in terms of hydration a coconut water is an improvement over the ever popular sports drinks laden with sugars, artificial sweeteners and food coloring.  But is it really all it is marketed to be?  Let’s take a look….

Coconut water is found in nature, inside of a green, young coconut usually harvested when it is 5-7 months old when it contains the most water.  These coconuts are about the size of a basketball! As the coconut matures on the tree, the coconut meats increase and the water decreases.

The coconut water from a young coconut is truly nutritious and has been consumed for centuries in tropical countries.  The elixir is so rich in electrolyte content that it has been used in emergency situations for IV hydration. Directly from the coconut, these waters are about 46 calories per cup and 10 grams of natural sugar. Potassium rich, it is in fact an excellent electrolyte beverage and offers about 600mg per 8 ounce serving.  It also has a little bit of sodium, calcium and magnesium too as well as a small amount of many other minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients.

Coconut water, because of these nutrient values, can help to lower blood pressure, support weight loss, increase athletic performance, boost energy, lower cholesterol, and relax muscle tension.  For those with kidney disease, it should be limited because of the high potassium content.

Knowing what comes out of the young coconut right out of the tree vs what lands in the store in a container becomes the main concern.  What happens in “man”ufacturing?  What should you be looking for when you buy coconut water in the store?

  •  Ideally, buy a fresh, young coconut and extract the water from it.  This is the real thing that nature created. Because the fresh coconut water is very perishable, you may find raw, fresh coconut water in a refrigerated section of a health store.
  • Second best choice if fresh is not available is to look for “cold pressured” coconut water which is very lightly processed with high pressure rather than heat, which helps to eliminate bacteria while maintaining a greater level of the vitamins and minerals.
  • If coconut water does not need refrigeration, you will likely discover that it has been pasteurized, meaning that a high temperature has been used to kill bacteria but it also destroys most of the natural vitamins and minerals in the product.
  • Coconut water made from concentrate should be avoided as it is the most processed form with little, if any, nutrition left in it short of sugar.
  • Because coconut water has a unique taste, many companies are now enhancing the taste with flavors or to cover up the fact that they are not using young coconuts but older more bitter coconut waters.  Avoid coconut waters with added sugars and flavors. The primary ingredient should be 100% coconut water.

While hydration is important as the summer months approach, by taking a few simple steps, you can stay hydrated and electrolyte-balanced.

  • Eat whole real food with plentiful vegetables and fruits which are a good source of water, fiber, minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients.
  • Eat foods that provide optimal levels of potassium, such as leafy greens, broccoli and cabbage, sweet potatoes, squash, bananas and avocados. Coconut water counts here IF the criteria above are met.
  • Eat hydrating foods just prior to and during activities in the heat such as celery, watermelon, cucumber, kiwi, bell pepper, citrus fruits, carrots and pineapple.
  • Drink enough water to result in urination every 3-4 hours at a minimum. Be sure to replenish the body with water following vigorous exercise especially in very warm or hot weather when increased sweating tends to occur.

My favorite alternative to real food as a hydration product with electrolytes is Vega Sport Hydrator.



By |2016-05-24T18:27:41-05:00May 24th, 2016|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|
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