With this constantly changing weather knocking people down with colds, and flu season right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to start thinking about how to manage the symptoms of these illnesses more naturally. As most of you probably already know, preventing dehydration is very important, especially with young children and pregnant women. Drinking water is a good way to help with this, but when people are vomiting and having diarrhea, they are not only losing water they are losing valuable electrolytes as well. Electrolytes are substances such as potassium, sodium, chloride, calcium and magnesium. These electrolytes are essential to proper body functioning as they help send messages in the cells that keep your heart beating correctly, help your muscles to contract and maintain your blood pressure amongst other things.
Commercial Electrolyte Drinks
There are many drinks out there that are marketed as being good for dehydration or rehydration. There are a few problems with these options
1) They are full of artificial flavors, colours and preservatives. Many children are known to be sensitive to artificial colours
2) They do not contain that much sodium. Sodium is very important for the sick dehydrated individual as it helps them retain the water they need to rehydrate
What’s a Mom to do
There are a few simple options out there for mom’s looking for a better alternative. You can make a natural electrolyte drink. This is the kind of drink your grandmother most likely had when she was sick, back before all these commercial varieties were available. This solution is also a great one to keep in mind when travelling and acquiring traveler’s diarrhea or another illness.
Natural Electrolyte Drink Recipe
1 Liter Clean Water
½ teaspoon salt
6 teaspoons sugar
(this drink is for people older than 1 year of age)
I can admit, this is not the best tasting drink you have ever made! To make it more palatable for children you can add a splash of juice, muddle some fruit in with the mixture or a little coconut water.
What about just coconut water? While it is being touted in the media a lot lately as a great fluid for hydration it is not the best choice on its own for someone who is sick, as it is low in sodium and carbohydrates, which is what they need. It is however quite high in potassium, so if you want to add it to the electrolyte drink go ahead!
What About Magnesium?
Many people want to replenish their magnesium when sick as it can help with muscle cramps and help you feel better. The thing to be careful about though is that too much magnesium can cause diarrhea, the opposite of what you are trying to do! Adding a small amount of magnesium (30-50mg for a child or 100-200mg for an adult) should not be an issue
Talk To Your Doctor
As I mentioned dehydration is more serious in young children (under 1) and pregnant women. Talk to your doctor if you are at all concerned about their inability to keep fluids down. You are the mom, you know your child and what is normal for them, if you have any doubts don’t hesitate to bring the child, or yourself if you are pregnant, in to be checked out by the doctor!
Dr Alexis practices in Kanta and is accepting new patients. To schedule your appointment, click here.