Healthy Homemade Sports Drink Recipe
It’s no secret: sugar-laden sports drinks are not healthy. You don’t have to be a nutrition nut to realize that the high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, and artificial colors in those plastic bottles spell bad news. But it is important to stay hydrated during exercise, especially when you are losing salt and water through sweat.
This adaptogenic sports drink recipe relies on a few time-honored, healing ingredients to help your body adapt to the stress of exercise. It works to balance the harmful stress hormones that rise during anaerobic workouts to reduce the toll on your body. Here’s how it works:
Tulsi (Holy Basil)
Tulsi, also known as Holy Basil, is the star ingredient here. As an adaptogenic substance, it helps the body adapt to and handle stress. Russian scientist Brekhman first applied the title adaptogens in 1969 to certain plants that had the following properties:
1. An adaptogen must show a non-specific activity, i.e. an increase in power of resistance against physical, chemical or biological noxious agents
2. it must have a normalizing influence independent of the nature of the pathological state
3. it must be harmless and must not influence normal body functions more than required.
One recent study showed that adaptogenic plants increase attention, cognitive function and mental performance. One strain of adaptogenic ginseng has been shown to increase endurance. The study offers an explanation for the effectiveness of these herbs:
“The beneficial stress-protective effect of adaptogens is related to regulation of homeostasis via several mechanisms of action associated with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the control of key mediators of stress response”
Tulsi is also said to:
- Boost the immune system
- Support healthy thyroid function
- Support healthy adrenal function
- Improve sleep
As an adaptogen, tulsi makes an excellent choice for hydration while exercising because it can help the body adjust to the increased physical stress and may even increase endurance.
Here is the tulsi tea that I purchase and love.
Raw honey is a healing superfood for many reasons, but I’ll just discuss a few here. Of course, source raw and preferably local honey. Regular pasteurized honey is stripped of its beneficial enzymes and medicinal properties and may even be cut with corn syrup.
Honey offers quick energy in the form of glucose. This recipe is low in sugar compared to traditional sports drinks, but provides some instant glucose replenishment.
As a side note, evidence suggests that honey, in comparison with sugar-free sweeteners and table sugar (sucrose) may improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. In another study, diabetic patients consuming honey had lower blood sugar than the diabetic patients consuming sucrose and dextrose.
Like the honey, salt plays an important role of balancing the stress hormones during exercise. Salt reduces adrenaline levels and supports overall metabolic health.
But that’s not the only reason salt is such an important ingredient in this sports drink recipe. Here are some more benefits of salt:
- Sea salt supports healthy hydration by providing electrolytes and trace minerals
- Salt is a natural anti-histamine
- Salt has been shown to reduce blood cortisol levels and therefore it helps to suppress the damaging effects of cortisol
- Salt encourages insulin sensitivity and that means better blood sugar control. (A salt-restricted diet is shown to cause systemic insulin resistance.)
I recommend Real Salt – it’s packed with minerals and produced in the US.
Trace Mineral Drops
This is not an absolutely necessary ingredient in this sports drink recipe, but it does boost the electrolyte and nutrition content. I highly recommend investing in these trace mineral drops because a little goes a long way… you literally need only a few drops per serving.
Americans are generally deficient in trace minerals, as our soils are woefully depleted and because we eat very little sea vegetables. Many people find that supplementing with these drops just gives them a sense of vitality. Others report better sleep, reduced cravings,
The drops are just good stuff. Enough said. (Also, I’m tired of typing and I want to finally hit the “Publish” button on this post!)
- Boil the water, add the tulsi tea and let it steep (off the heat and covered) for 10-20 minutes. Stain. Let it cool to room temperature before adding the honey to preserve the enzymes in the honey. Mix in salt and minerals to taste. It keeps in the fridge for probably a week. Sip it slowly during a workout.
Do you frequently drink sports drinks (homemade or purchased)? Have you used tulsi before?