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Well-being

Drinking water and salt in the morning on an empty stomach helps eliminate water retention and hydrate the body

Just add a pinch of this particular type of salt, or choose supplements with electrolytes. Here's why they are so good for the body

Alessandra Signorelli

March 21, 2024

Drinking water and salt is the new wellness craze. Here’s why it’s good for your body and skin

 

We thought we’d heard it all: water and lemon, water and vinegar, chlorophyll water, drinking olive oil on an empty stomach in the morning. But no: on the radar of wellness addicts has now entered a drink that experts say we should drink in the morning (but not only), which seems to bring enormous benefits to our health and beauty: water and salt. A simple potion to prepare at home that apparently can remineralize us, give us fresh energy and boost concentration. It is a drink that is already in the arsenal of wellness gurus such as supermodel Elle Macpherson, who apparently puts a glass of water enriched with a pinch of pink Himalayan salt on her bedside table at night to make sure it is the first thing to drink in the morning “to get rid of water retention and help establish an optimal pH in the body,” as she told Get The Gloss.

 

The drink can be made by adding some mineral-rich salt (such as Himalayan salt) to our water, as Macpherson does, or with sachets of electrolytes (or electrically charged minerals), like those used by athletes to remineralize after excessive sweating. But more than sports drinks, electrolyte preparations have now entered the world of wellness supplements to improve physical well-being. We find them offered by brands such as Humantra, the brand invested in by the Kattan sisters of Huda Beauty, which produces clean, plant-based and sugar-free products, or Ancient + Brave, the British brand with a holistic approach, best known for its top-quality collagen supplements.

 

To better understand why electrolyte drinks are now so trendy and why we should drink them, we need to start with the assumption that 75% of us are dehydrated with consequences ranging from energy dips to headaches to inflammation. We talked about this with Jo Woodhurst, a well-known British nutritionist who for Ancient + Brave has formulated True Hydration, a supplement based on coconut water, Himalayan salt, magnesium, potassium, and chromium-a hydrating cocktail with a mouthwatering flavor that makes the ritual of warm water in the morning a real treat.

 

What are electrolytes and why do we need them for our bodies to function properly?

It all starts with water. We know how important it is to drink enough of it and be well hydrated for overall health: from digestion to skin health, from detoxification to cognitive performance and energy production, replenishing water levels is critical. But many people are unaware that minerals with an electrical charge, called electrolytes, also play a crucial role in the body’s hydration process.

An adult’s body is about 60 percent water, and about 40 percent is found inside cells: it gives them shape and structure, and is used for metabolic processes. Without water, cells begin to dehydrate and cannot function optimally, so we must continue to replenish them. Although water is necessary, cell hydration also requires an electrical charge that regulates vital chemical reactions in the body and maintains the balance between fluids inside and outside the cells. Electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium) carry water into cells and help maintain balance. These minerals conduct electrical impulses that the body needs for many other processes, including powering the nervous system and muscles, maintaining stable pH levels, and blood pressure.

Increasing water intake seems like the easiest solution, but being hydrated means more than just drinking gallons and gallons of water. Too much water can be detrimental to health because it dilutes important electrolyte minerals in the blood. Getting electrolytes through diet and smart supplementation are key to ensuring the body gets what it needs.

 

Who should take electrolyte supplements?

People fall into two categories: those who drink little water during a day (and often rely on coffee or tea as their only fluid intake) and those who drink a large amount of water without sufficient minerals (and in this way further dilute their mineral status). In ancient times when we were hunters and gatherers, electrolytes were obtained through mineral-rich water: today this is no longer available. These minerals are also obtained through diet (from foods such as coconut water, meat, spinach, kale, avocado, watermelon, bananas, almonds, olives, and broccoli), but those who struggle with a balanced diet may be deficient in these key minerals. In addition, our overgrown soils are often depleted of minerals, so our foods may also be deficient in them.

The amount of electrolytes we need depends on factors such as age, activity levels, fluid intake, and even the climate in which we live. Intense exercise, air travel, hot weather, alcohol consumption, sauna sessions, and even low-carb diets and fasting protocols can also lead to electrolyte loss. In these cases, the use of electrolytes can be supportive and restorative.

Personally, I like to take our True Hydration supplement in the morning: most of us wake up in a mild state of dehydration. Our body has not had the opportunity to take in fluids during sleep, and while we sleep our body and brain need to restore, rejuvenate and detoxify, using water supplies for these processes. The color of urine in the morning can be a good indicator of the level of dehydration: the darker the urine, the more you need to hydrate. Although it is probably not “essential” for health, a large glass of filtered water with added electrolytes allows you to replenish your energy and start your day with optimal hydration.

Not all electrolyte supplements are the same, however: many are packed with sugar, artificial sweeteners, flavorings, fillers and low-quality minerals with poor absorbability. True Hydration was created as an antidote to this, using highly bioavailable forms of minerals and Himalayan pink salt, and taking advantage of the natural electrolytes found in coconut water powder.

 

What happens to the body if we don’t get enough electrolytes?

Our body maintains a delicate balance of electrolytes to ensure its proper functioning. Although electrolytes are important, it is not necessary to drink them with every glass of water, but only once or twice a day. A balance must be maintained: neither too little nor too much. There are some key signs to watch out for: muscle weakness, eye cramps or twitching, constipation, fatigue, brain fog or irritability. It may also happen that we drink a lot of water but are still thirsty, and urine is dark, which is a sign of the need to increase water intake. A mild electrolyte imbalance may cause no symptoms and go unnoticed. A major electrolyte imbalance is rare, but severe. In these more extreme cases, symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, confusion, or hyponatriemia (low sodium) may occur and should be checked by a physician immediately.

 

What is the best time of day to take an electrolyte drink?

There is no “best” time, but you can use electrolytes wisely:

During or after exercise, or any time when you sweat a lot

When traveling: air travel in particular can cause dehydration due to the high altitude and low humidity in the cockpits

In case of illness: if you have been sick (vomiting or diarrhea) you are likely losing a lot of fluids and therefore need water and electrolytes to balance your body

After an alcoholic evening: drink an electrolyte drink before you go to bed, and when you wake up. Alcohol is a known diuretic, so we often feel dehydrated

During or after a sauna (or in a very hot climate), to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat

Just waking up: after a restful sleep to get the day off to a good start

 

Although electrolyte supplements can be a game changer for so many of us, it is crucial to stick to the recommended doses. It is important not to overdo the minerals. Just as an insufficient amount of electrolytes can send the system into a tailspin, too much can create problems. Choose reliable brands and stick to the recommended dosages, and consult your doctor if you have any questions.

 

Drink water and pink Himalayan salt in the morning.

Just a pinch in a glass of water in the morning on an empty stomach as soon as you wake up. Choose it in its fine variant, to make it dissolve more easily, or coarse but with a built-in grinder.

 

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