Most of us know Pedialyte as a Gatorade-like substance with quasi-medical branding. It is supposedly the #1 most recommended product for replenishing electrolytes and general rehydration in children, and has such a reputation that many adults turn to Pedialyte for post-hangover aid or during their own bouts with fever or vomiting. However, a close examination of Pedialyte’s composition will leave you wondering where the magic is. For all the hype, we can find nothing special about it, except perhaps the plenitude of artificial ingredients that made us wonder if there isn’t a more natural way to rehydrate and replenish; if there isn’t something else doctors could recommend that would do the job without the extras. Unsurprisingly, there IS.
Why NOT Pedialyte
We do not question that the stuff does what it is supposed to do: it rehydrates and replenishes effectively, as advertised. The issue is in the composition. After water, the other ingredient comprising most of the substance is dextrose. Dextrose is simply a sugar, essentially another name for glucose, and it happens to come primarily from corn. The prevalence of GM corn in the US indicates that the corn used in production was likely of a GM variety. After that we find an array of artificial substances, including artificial flavor, sucralose (aka Splenda, linked to various issues), acesulfame potassium (artificial sweetener, likely carcinogen), along with artificial colors Red 40 and Blue 1 (linked to hyperactivity, safety in question). These are all reasons to explore alternative substances to replace water, sugars, and electrolytes lost from the body.
Electrolytes and You
In the ill or the athletically active, the argument in favor of consuming liquids that contain more than just water is simple: in these populations, the body excretes or otherwise rapidly uses up substances that are vital to proper function, and those substances must be replaced quickly. As a group they are called electrolytes, and there are many. Generally speaking it is their function to create a balance of fluids between the intra and extracellular environments. In seeking a replacement for Pedialyte, the three we will focus on are potassium, chloride, and sodium.
Looking at the ingredient panel we also see that zinc is present in significant amounts, so finding a replacement for the medically-sanctioned cousin of Gatorade is simply a matter of finding an easily consumable, easily absorbable source of those nutrients.
The Cs Have It
Coconut water has, per serving, more than double the potassium found in Pedialyte and about half the sodium, while also containing magnesium and real, unprocessed, non-GMO glucose. Adding some Celtic sea salt could correct the sodium imbalance and add chloride.
Chlorella is an excellent source of zinc, protein, and also contains B vitamins, vitamin A, chlorophyll, and Iron. It comes in tablets no larger than aspirin.
It’s that simple. Now, let’s compare ingredient lists.
Water, (GMO?)dextrose; less than 1% of: galacto-oligosaccharides, citric acid, potassium citrate, salt, sodium citrate, natural and artificial flavor, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, zinc gluconate, red 40, blue 1.
DIY Electrolyte Replenisher
Coconut water, salt, chlorella.
The Big Picture
Everything has its place, and there may be a place for Pedialyte among those who are unable to consume the alternatives just outlined. The point we are making here is that your body can get what it needs from natural sources, and until the makers of Pedialyte change their formula to something with fewer toxins we ought to choose those natural sources first.
For use with illness you’ll need to consult with a doctor, get some hard data on your current state of health and work with them to calculate how much of each substance you need. But it can be done. There is absolutely no need to consume a chemical-laden concoction simply because it is widely recommended by people who attended an American medical school. Talented as they are, there is much they do not know. This is a team-effort, and you’re on it!
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