by Janelle Holden
I put back the bottle of Vitamin Water on the grocery shelf in disgust. In fact, I was having a moment. Few things can trigger an onslaught of expletives in my mind like the words “natural flavors.” I’m aware that this may only be a first-world problem, but it’s fun to swear in the grocery store. Plus, it helps to just get the emotion out right then and there and laugh at myself.
Avoid drinks with “natural flavors”
Vitamin Water was one of three “natural” electrolyte drinks I picked up that contained “natural flavors,” an ingredient that may or may not contain gluten but you have to assume it does unless you call the manufacturer. I avoid any food with “natural flavors” unless it also says gluten-free on the label.
Anyway, I was searching for an electrolyte replacement because after months of having mysterious energy dips in the afternoon, headaches after working out, and a vague sense that I was missing out on a key nutrient in my diet, it finally occurred to me that I was dehydrated.
Yes, I had my thyroid checked first and it was normal. Yes, I tried an adrenal gland supplement. I didn’t think I could be dehydrated because I drink a lot of water (in fact, I start every day with two full glasses). I rarely drink caffeinated tea, and I have juice once in a blue-moon. It wasn’t until I went on a very long hike with not enough water and came back home nursing a wicked migraine that it occurred to me that I might be chronically dehydrated.
The link between celiac disease and dehydration
What I’ve learned since is that dehydration is a common symptom of celiac disease and other gastrointestinal diseases, possibly because people with these conditions may lose more fluids because of increased incidences of diarrhea and other factors. Excessive sweating (particularly in summer) is also a cause, which is why I had been complaining to my doctor that my energy loss seemed seasonal (it was much more pronounced in the summer because of the heat).
You can drink more water throughout the day to hydrate, but you also need to keep the electrolytes in your body properly balanced for the water to “stick” in your body. Electrolytes are salts that contain ions the body needs to “maintain voltage” across cells. They include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, phosphate, and sulfate. This is why athletes drink gobs of Gatorade. They need the salts to keep the water inside of their cells over longer periods of time.
Once I found a gluten-free, sugar-free electrolyte replacement, I literally experienced a near instant health transformation. I no longer had to have an afternoon nap. I could take walks around town without getting a mild headache afterwards, and my energy stayed up all day. So, in the interest of helping you keep your energy up too, here are three gluten-free electrolyte replacement options for you to consider. Send me a note if you know of others that work for you!
Three gluten-free electrolyte replacers:
- ElyteSport: This is a concentrated electrolyte solution in purified water recommended to me by nutritionist Tracy Konoske. It comes in bottles, and can be expensive to ship, so I’m looking for a local source. It was developed for athletes and has the highest concentration of magnesium and potassium that I’ve found thus far.
- Vega Sport: Recommended by my nephew and personal trainer (who also follows the paleo-diet), Vega Sport is an all-natural, plant-based sport performance powder free from dairy, gluten and soy, and contains no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. It was formulated by Brendan Brazier, a professional Ironman triathlete. The only problem I have with it is that they manufacture it in a plant that contains peanuts, which put it off limits for me, but I’ve heard great things about it. It’s also entirely grain free.
- Coconut Water: Coconut water is the clear liquid found in coconuts and naturally contains electrolytes, including as much potassium as a banana. It has a slightly sweet taste and is more pleasant to drink than some of the plain electrolyte solution mixes, plus it’s truly all-natural. You can buy coconut water from a lot of different companies (at my health food store I counted at least four options) so make sure you read your labels.
Janelle Holden is a gluten-free adventuress, mindset maven, and paleo-diet coach who helps people who struggle with food and body overcome that challenge so that they can feel and look their best. To grab a complimentary copy of her e-zine, “Gluten-Free Notes” just click here to sign up.