I have an embarrassing confession. I sweat. A lot. Probably 3 or 4 times as much as the average person. I'm not entirely sure of the cause, but it means that I am constantly losing large amounts of both fluids and salts, as much as an athlete would, even when I'm not doing anything particularly physically exertive. In addition to that, I have dysautonomia, specifically Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, something that is usually comorbid with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which I also have. This means that my body doesn't know how to regulate blood flow, which causes a large variety of different symptoms, but it is most pronounced when changing positions (that's what postural orthostatic tachycardia means- heart rate affected by your posture) which can cause really bad dizziness.
To treat the symptoms of POTS, there are lots of different recommendations. Drinking really large quantities and having a lot of salt are two extremely helpful ones, because salt causes water retention, and combined with drinking more, that increases your blood volume, which is one of the biggest ways to help symptoms.
I don't know about you, but drinking salt water isn't something that is particularly appealing to me. I've drunk large amounts of water in the past but it made me nauseous. I've even gotten water poisoning one time after a hike (it was terrible) and it only went away when I had something carby and salty. I try to remember to drink but when it is just water it doesn't happen enough. And it doesn't really help my symptoms anyhow, because if you drink water but don't have the salt, you just pee it all out and it doesn't help with the blood volume.
Enter sports drinks.
They're basically drinks that are meant to help replenish what you lose when you sweat. Liquid. Salt. Electrolytes. And sugar. Not always sugar. But sugar helps because carbohydrates help facilitate sodium and water absorption. My friend started buying powdered Gatorade and I started drinking it to see if it helped with my dizziness and exhaustion issues and the difference was remarkable. I was much more of a functional human being when I drank Gatorade. However, locally you can only buy ready made Gatorade, which is quite pricey if you drink 3-4 liters a day. I ordered it online internationally, and it was terrific. But then the store raised their shipping prices prohibitively, and ordering it didn't make sense anymore. I tried ordering rehydration packs from iherb (not Gatorade but a similar idea) but they still haven't arrived. But my Gatorade was finished. And I needed to have something to help me rehydrate that wasn't just water.
I have a sports drink recipe here, called Laborade (which I based on a different recipe I found online years ago) but it calls for a gallon of water, which is a lot to make at once, and I don't really have any good container to mix that large of an amount in. And I wanted something I could make to scale. So I experimented to see if I could make that into a powder version, using citric acid, and some fruity tea bags... and it was just terrible. It tasted so bad that I didn't want to drink it, nor did anyone else. This was after multiple attempts with different permutations.
But I was out of Gatorade and I needed something. So I experimented. What if I made lemonade, but didn't make it as strong, and then added some salt to that? It worked. Then I added tea bags for flavorings. It also worked great. I tried playing around with the amounts of sugar, salt, and lemon... but increasing the salt just made it taste yucky.
Eventually, I found the perfect ratio for me. And it works just as well as Gatorade, I think. I mean it's not like I did a scientific study with this, but drinking 4 liters a day of this sports drink definitely helps a lot, and much more than that amount of water, and it is more pleasant to drink so I don't minimize my drinking.
And as for electrolytes? Well, I'll be honest, looking up the term helped me know the definition and the importance, but not really more than that. "Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge. They’re found in your blood, urine, and sweat and are vital to specific processes that keep your body functioning as it should."
So I just googled whether the ingredients in my sports drinks contain electrolytes, and they do.
If you make this with a different type of tea or leave out the tea it won't have the same amount of electrolytes, so play around with it and see what works for you. You can also try to see if you can increase the amount of salt and if you can still drink it, but this is what works for me. (This obviously is in addition to any salt I eat in the food I make.)
You can also play around with the sugar and lemon juice amounts, but make sure that you leave at least some sugar in it, as it helps the body absorb the liquid and salt. You can also use an alternative sugar, as long as its actually carbs and not fake sugar, but not guarantee about taste. But no matter what you do, do not put black tea or green tea into this, as they contain caffeine, which is a diuretic, which means it does exactly what this drink is supposed to be combatting- it makes you pee more and lose water from your system.
I find this recipe easy because I just need to put a few ingredients into a 2-liter bottle, shake it up, and I'm good to go. So no, not as easy as powdered Gatorade, but close enough for me. For you Americans who don't have things measured in liters, this is about a half gallon, and hopefully you can find a bottle that size.
1/4+1/8 cup sugar or 6 tablespoons.
1/4 cup lemon juice or 4 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon salt, ideally sea salt
1 herbal fruity tea bag, ideally hibiscus and/or rosehip based- I have used rosehip and hibiscus tea, mango passionfruit, and others. Zinger teas are all hibiscus and rosehip based. Check ingredient lists to see which contain them.
Enough water to fill up a 2 liter bottle
1. Boil a little water and pour over a tea bag, letting it sit while you're doing the rest. If using salt with larger crystals, you might want to add it to the cup now, since it'll dissolve more easily in boiling water.
2. Measure your sugar and your lemon juice. I use a quarter cup measuring cup instead of tablespoons- I find it easiest to just use a quarter cup measuring cup, filling it one and a half times with the sugar, and then once with the lemon juice (so the sugar doesn't stick to the wet measuring cup) and then pouring it into your bottle. I use a funnel, again with the sugar before the lemon juice for the same reason.
3. I then pour the concentrated tea liquid (first stirring in the salt to dissolve if it didn't on its own) into the bottle (and then add the salt if I didn't already), and then fill it up to the top with water.
Takes about 1 minute or so to make 2 liters, and I do this twice a day. A quick rinse of the measuring cup and funnel after using lets it dry so it is easiest to use next time.
I find this tasty and refreshing and very helpful. I hope you find it helps you as well!
Do you ever use sports drinks? Homemade or store bought? Have you used my previous recipe and if so, did it help you? Do you think you'll try this new alternative?
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