Best Electrolyte Drinks for Diabetes

Best Electrolyte Drinks for Diabetes

If you have diabetes and you are looking to say hydrated with an electrolyte drink, you know it can be difficult to find one that isn’t too high in sugar and carbohydrates. If you have started an exercise regime, it can also be challenging to keep your blood sugar from getting too low. Exercise removes glucose from the blood without using insulin, and is crucial in getting diabetes under control, but it is a delicate balance for your blood sugar being too high when you are inactive, and too low when you are active. It is important that the electrolyte drink matches your activity level, and you are not drinking an electrolyte drink with 25 carbohydrates while you are sitting inside, or one with zero carbohydrates while you are combining Zumba, Jazzercize and CrossFit.

In regards to these parameters, perhaps you were advised to choose an electrolyte drink that uses artificial sweeteners. While writing The New Menu for Diabetes, I did some research on artificial sweeteners and was shocked that these were recommended for diabetics. The studies clearly showed that these in fact should be avoided, and I wanted to go more in depth in this article regarding why you should avoid Splenda and Acesulfame K.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Using Powerade Zero, Gatorade, Pedialyte or NUUN Hydration

Powerade Zero

After doing some research, I noticed that Powerade Zero was the drink of choice for many diabetics due to it having zero calories. What’s in Powerade Zero?

UK Label: Water, citric acid, mineral salts (sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium phosphate), natural berry flavouring with other natural flavourings, acidity regulator (E332), sweeteners (sucralose, acesulfame K), colour (E133).

US Label: Water, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Salt, Potassium Citrate, Sucralose, Sodium Citrate, Potassium Phosphate, Acesulfame Potassium, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Blue 1, Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12).

Sucralose (Splenda)

If you think FDA approval means anything in regards to your health, just take a gander at all of the harmful processed foods, drinks and medications that are available. Don’t use this as a yardstick for safety. One of the most interesting classes I took in graduate school involved looking at the ways studies are conducted. This was eye opening because you could see how easily a study can be manipulted for desired results. This is the case with sucralose that claims 110 safety studies, only 2 which were done on humans with a total of 36 people lasting for only 4 days, of which only 23 actually consumed sucralose. Does that seem sufficient for the assumed millions that may have consumed it since 1998?

As I mentioned in my other electrolyte article, the troubling part for me with this synthetic sweetener is that it has a covalent bond with chlorine, creating an organochlorine. What are organochlorines? Agent Orange, DDT, PCB’s, pesticides and insecticides. That’s correct. Your body cannot break these down and are extremely harmful. Exposure to Agent Orange proved to lead to various forms of cancer and diabetes. Ionic bonds with chlorine are found in compounds like salt, covalent bonds with chlorine are found in poisonous and carcinogenic compounds. Sucralose has been found to wreak havoc on intestinal bacteria (up to 50% destruction), which makes sense looking at its chemical structure. Your beneficial bacteria is responsible for up to 80 percent of your immune system, your ability to lose weight, and emerging research is connecting anxiety and depression to low beneficial bacteria populations.

Acesulfame K

Acesulfame K (K is the symbol for potassium) seems to go under the radar quite often. It’s almost as if it’s hiding behind the other artificial sweeteners and sneaking in the back door into your drink. It’s often blended with other artificial sweeteners to yield a more sugar-like taste, which is why it gets less attention. It also shares a similar bedtime story as aspartame, being discovered by accident when the scientists dip their finger(s) in the chemical solution and lick it off, only to find it to be very sweet. As with sucralose, you have to really rifle through the studies to try and discover where the potential problems may lie.

Methlyene chloride is a solvent used in the beginning step of creating Acesulfame K. What is methlyene chloride? According to the EPA, it is predominately used as a solvent in paint strippers, removers and pharamcuetical drugs, and as propellent for insect sprays and aerosol paint sprays. Exposure from the inhalation of methylene chloride have been linked to headaches, nausea, memory loss, liver and kidney issues, visual and auditory dysfunction, cardiovascular problems and an increased rate of cancer.

According to this FDA 2003 document,  “methylene chloride, a carcinogenic chemical, is a potential impurity in ACK resulting from its use as a solvent in the initial manufacturing step of the sweetener. In the past, FDA has assumed that methylene chloride is present in Acesulfame K at the LOD of 40 ppb (worst-case scenario) and has evaluated its safety by performing a risk assessment for methylene chloride based on this level. No new information has been received to change FDA’s previous risk assessment for methylene chloride.” You know how much of this should be considered safe for human consumption? Zero parts per billion.

According to the 2013 Code of Federal Regulations, Asulfame K also cannot have a fluoride content of more than 30 parts per billion. Fluoride? If you have been following any research regarding fluoride in our water supply, you know that ingesting it can cause many problems. Compounding chemicals from different sources always needs to be considered when looking at actual safety parameters for ingestion.

Gatorade

Gatorade is owned by PepsiCo, the makers of Pepsi and who dominate the sports drink market at 69 percent. Gatorade has 21 grams of sugar and dextrose per 12 oz serving, which should obviously be avoided by diabetics. Many of the colors and flavors seem a little extreme with their bright blues and reds. How are these made? The artificial colors and flavors are derived from aromatic hydrocarbons from petrochemicals. In other words, oil. Manufacturers are not required to divulge this information because artificial colors and flavors are considered intellectual property.

Tthese food dyes have been found to inhibit mitochondrial respiration; the ability of the powerhouse of your cells to convert nutrients to energy. Red 3 causes cancer in animals, with evidence that other dyes also are carcinogenic. Three dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6) have been found to be contaminated with benzidine or other carcinogens. At least four dyes (Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6) cause hypersensitivity reactions, and numerous studies found Yellow 5 positive for genotoxicity. Depending on the flavor, Gatorade uses Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40 and Blue 1.

Pedialyte

PediaLyte is a drink marketed to kids, for hydrating during times of diarrhea and vomiting, and may even be recommended if you have diabetes. As you can see from the label, there isn’t anything that makes PediaLyte stand out. It uses the same common cheap formula of dextrose, salt, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners and food color dyes. They even have a bubble gum flavor. It also missing magnesium and calcium. But their marketing is what makes PediaLyte the first thing people think of when they are sick.

The main headline at the top of each PediaLytes drink is “Pedialyte helps prevent dehydration and quickly replaces fluids, zinc, and electrolytes lost during diarrhea and vomiting.” They have taken it a step further and added prebiotics which help probiotics colonize, yet they use sucralose. From  a sucralose study, the total numbers of bifidobacteria, lactobacilli and other probiotics were significantly decreased. These strains of bacteria are what help keep you well and prevent diarrhea.

Three dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6) have been found to be contaminated with benzidine or other carcinogens, and numerous studies of Yellow 5 have been positive for genotoxicity. And Pedialyte is being marketed to children? Or anyone when they are sick?

Ingredients: Dextrose, Citric Acid, Natural & Artificial Flavor, Potassium Citrate, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Zinc Gluconate, and Red 40, Blue Dye 1 or Yellow Dye 6 depending on the flavor. The AdvancedCare product also uses acesulfame K.

NUUN Hydration

If you have been recommend NUUN Active Hydration because it doesn’t have any sugar or carbohydrates, you may want to think twice. Here are the ingredients:

Other ingredients: citric acid, sorbitol, sodium carbonate, natural colors flavors, sodium bicarbonate, potassium bicarbonate, polyethylene glycol, magnesium sulfate, sodium benzoate, calcium carbonate, acesulfame potassium, riboflavin-5-phosphate.

Besides acesulfame potassium, it has sodium benzoate. The concern is that when you combine sodium benzoate and ascorbic acid you create benzene, especially in the presence of heat and light (common with storing citrus flavored soda in a warm garage). Citric acid may act as a catalyst for this process in the presence of ascorbic acid. NUUN Hydration contains vitamin C in the active ingredients, making this a prime candidate for this reaction.

Benzene damages the cells mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell where you are generating energy in the first place! It has been found to cause cancer – leukemia and other cancers of the blood – by disabling a cell’s DNA. Benzene is also found in cigarettes, pesticides, car exhaust, paints and certain laundry detergents. Runners and bikers exposed to car exhaust should be especially mindful of this, since vitamin C is an important antioxidant to protect against oxidative stress and promote tissue repair. As a diabetic, you may be taking vitamin C along with Metformin.

Best Electrolyte Drinks for Diabetes

What is the criteria for the best electrolyte drinks for diabetes? I’m looking for a drink that contains all of the electrolytes, is sweetened with stevia or Lo Han Guo, does not contain any artificial sweeteners or colors, and is low in carbohydrates. A bonus is given if it contains chromium and vitamin C, both which are very beneficial for diabetics.

Stevia has been found to regulate blood sugar and prevent hypertension, decrease blood glucose and improve carbohydrate metabolism. Lo Han Guo has been found to improve insulin response, reduce blood sugar, lower lipid peroxidation and reduce protein spilling (better kidney function). When chromium is available in sufficient amounts, lower amounts of insulin are required to move glucose into the cells. One randomized, double-blind study found that after 12 weeks, vitamin C with metformin increased ascorbic acid levels, reduced fasting blood sugar, post-meal blood glucose and improved HbA1C compared to the placebo group.

What to Look for in Stores

1. Coconut Water: A study from 2012 and a study from 2015 found that coconut water has anti-glycation properties, kidney protection, prevented hyperglycemia and oxidative stress. It is an excellent source potassium, chloride, magnesium, calcium, sodium, b-vitamins, enzymes and vitamin C.

The best way to enjoy coconut water is to buy a young coconut, take a hammer to the top, and enjoy it fresh and raw. If you want to buy coconut water in the store, you need to be more selective since many companies are going out of their way to deliver cheap coconut water that lasts for two years on a shelf, often from concentrate and with added sugar and flavors. That should make you suspicious.

What you want to look for is coconut water in the refrigerated section, that uses young coconuts, is not pasteurized and does not contain any added ingredients like natural flavors, fruit juice or sugar. The companies I have found that follow these guidelines include: Harmless Harvest, Unoco, Liquitera, Vital Juice and Juice Press. Many of these use a process called HPP, which sterilizes the juice with pressure instead of heat. This keeps the vitamins and enzymes in tact.

2. Gerolsteiner Sparkling Mineral Water

Gerolsteiner label

I did some traveling this summer (2015) and tested out numerous mineral waters and took pictures of each of the labels. While some mineral waters were very low in minerals, there were a few that were impressively high in all the electrolytes, including bicarbonate which is often missing and important for pH balancing. What stood out to me about Gerolsteiner from Germany is that it collects minerals from the dolomites, making it very high in calcium, magnesium and bicarbonate. And it tasts amazing, especially if you crave carbonated drinks. Add some lemon juice for more flavor.

That combination is perfect for those with headaches, nausea, fatigue and digestive issues. So if your doctor has recommended that you drink an electrolyte drink that isn’t necessarily to be used for exercise and sweating and needs to be low in sodium, this is the best choice straight from nature. If you are an athlete, keep it in the fridge and enjoy it later in the evening to supply more calcium and magnesium for sore muscles. If you want more energy and hydration while sitting at your desk, this is the best option. In the US, you can find it in liter bottles in Trader Joes or Whole Foods for $1.68 to $2.00, but if you can’t then online is the way to go.

 Convenient Electrolyte Powders

1.  Ultima Replenisher

 

Ultima Replenisher is recommended as the best all around electrolyte drink for diabetics. It can be used as a hydrating drink on a hot day, or with light to moderate exercise.

Ingredients: Potassium, Magnesium, Chloride, Calcium, Selenium, Zinc, Phosphorus, Sodium, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum, Chromium, Silica, Vitamin C, Non-GMO Maltodextrin, Stevia Leaf Extract, Natural Flavors, Luo Han Guo, Citric Acid, Beet Color, Malic Acid.

Calories: 15

Carbohydrates: 3 grams

Sugars: 0

2. Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator

Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator is recommended if you are want portable single packets to take with you, and you want a zero calorie electrolyte drink. This one is pretty sweet, so you will want to dilute it quite a bit.

Ingredients: Potassium, natural lemon and lime flavors, magnesium, citric acid, malic acid, stevia extract, calcium, chloride, phosphorus, sodium, vitamin C, silocon dioxide, zinc, copper, selenium and chromium.

Calories: 0

Carbohdyrates: 0

Sugars: 0

3. Pure Encapsulations – Electrolyte/Energy Formula 

Pure Encapsulations Electrolyte/Energy Formula is recommended only for exercise lasting 1-2 hours if you are needing to prevent low blood sugar. The carbohydrate level is low, but it is important to monitor glucose after the first trial dose to see how you respond. Choose the other options if you are wanting an electrolyte drink while you are inactive or taking part in a light to moderate exercise regime.

Ingredients:

  • vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) 100 mg.
  • calcium (as calcium citrate) 50 mg.
  • magnesium (as magnesium citrate) 50 mg.
  • chloride (as sodium chloride) 75 mg.
  • sodium (as sodium chloride) 50 mg.
  • potassium (as potassium phosphate) 50 mg.
  • alpha ketoglutarate 200 mg.
  • malice acid 200 mg.
  • l-tyrosine (free-form) 500 mg

calories: 30

carbohydrate: 7 g

sugars: (glucose): 3.5 g

4. Endure Performance Electrolyte Drops or LyteShow

         

Both Endure and Lyteshow use concentrated ionic minerals from the Great Salt Lake. They come in convenient liquid drops that you can add to any bottle of water, making them extremely convenient. Endure has slightly more magnesium, while Lyteshow includes zinc.

According to Lyteshow’s website, it has been clinically tested using firefighters, showing enhanced hydration with less water than regular water. The researchers found that “this can minimize carrying excessive weight, possibly reducing fatigue during extended exercise.” Both of these provide a great middle ground for those wanting to get enough sodium during exercise while having a better balance of magnesium, chloride and potassium without sugar or carbohydrates.
Endure                                    Lyteshow 

Endure

Lyteshow

 

 

 

 

If you want to add a flavor, try the homemade PaleoEdge electrolyte drink:
32 oz. water
1 orange, lemon and 1/2 cucumber sliced
1/4 tsp. Endure or Lyteshow

12 Responses to Best Electrolyte Drinks for Diabetes

  1. Was your article intened to promote you products which are not avail in stores?

    What is recommend that is available in store.

    • Hi Irene,

      You can find both Ultima and Vega in local health food stores or health food chains like Whole Foods. If these stores are not available near you, online will be your best bet.

  2. Hi Alex,

    I’m looking for the best electrolyte drink for my 76 year old Mom who has multiple health issues: Seizures, Diabetes, Cardiac (CABG, CHF), and this year she’s been in the hospital 3 times for Urinary Tract Infections & Hyponatremia.

    My greatest challenge is helping my Mom navigate her multiple health concerns that often require contradictory solutions. Currently, I’m struggling with how to sufficiently hydrate my Mom to manage her seizures that are primarily caused by dehydration (particularly low electrolytes), and alternatively, making sure I don’t over-hydrate my Mom resulting in CHF or Hyponatremia. It’s been a really difficult dance!

    For the past year, I’ve been using Emergen-C powder for electrolytes. Overall, Emergenc-C seemed to do fine. The 6 grams of sugar seemed to have no affect on my Mom’s sugar levels, as her diabetes has been under control for the past couple years via improved diet, exercise and hydration.

    I have always been told Vitamin C was good for diabetics, but I wasn’t sure if 1000 mg of Vitamin C that Emergen-C has might be too much, possibly resulting in unwanted negative side effects?

    After reading your article, I was ready to order Ultimate Replenisher, but when checking the nutritional info, though I loved the zero sugar, I became hesitant seeing it had lower amounts of all the electrolytes and minerals (potassium, sodium, chromium, magnesium, etc.).

    So now I don’t know what to do? After reading multiple articles of yours today, you are clearly far more educated on these matters and would love to get your insights.

    Any help you can lend, would be greatly appreciated!!!

    Thank you!

    Mike

    • Hi Mike,

      That is definitely a challenging dance! Without seeing her blood work and the medications she is on, it is very difficult for me to answer as accurately as I would like. I can offer a few suggestions. Emergen-C is lacking sodium and chloride (sodium is lost the most in sweat) and while some people like this fact if their diet is high in sodium, hypoatremia occurs from low sodium levels (many different causes including too much water, diuretic medications etc). While I can’t say that the lack of sodium is the cause, it looks like including sodium in her electrolyte drink would help prevent diluted levels. I don’t believe the amount of vitamin C is causing any issues you mentioned, and you are correct that it has been found to be beneficial for those taking metformin.

      The Vega Electrolyte Hydrator is very close to the Emergen C profile, but with sodium and other trace minerals while having zero sugar. I would recommend trying this and see if it makes a difference.

      On another note, her Vitamin D level (optimal is 50-70ng/ml) if not already addressed, should also be looked at. Vitamin D plays an important role not only in bone health, but fluid metabolism, cardiovascular and metabolic health as well. You may also want to consider D-mannose/cranberry extract to prevent urinary tract infections.

      Hope this helps, and review with your doctor first.

  3. hi, i have just been diagonised as diabetic type 2 with a count of 8.6. i am concerned that when i run with a sauna/sweat suit on it could dehydrate me too much as well as lower my blood sugar levels too low. i run in the mornings and normally have a spirulina shake prior to my run. do you think i should take “pure encapsulations drink” during the run (in one of those on the go drinking vessels) or take post exercise. i like running in the sauna suit as it really makes me perspire a lot. hoping for some advice….Gratefully

    • Hi Cliff,

      Yes you would be a good candidate for the Pure Encapsulations Electrolyte Energy Formula. You have to really monitor yourself with those sweat suits because you are losing a lot of minerals, and yes you don’t want your blood sugar to get too low. I would recommend taking it with you and drinking as needed. Make sure you have some protein, fat, fiber and a small about of carbs post-workout for recovery and blood sugar stabilization.

  4. I’m surprised there was no mention of coconut water or dill pickle juice for ending cramping.
    My view is natural is best and that puts coconut water as number one, not a commercially prepared anything.

    • Agreed! I originally had this written for people looking for something they could just add to water. Not everyone likes the taste of coconut water, but I have been in the midst of organizing the best coconut water companies because there are many that make it from concentrate and add sugar. You prompted me to finish it. Pickle juice is also excellent, especially when made using fermentation instead of vinegar for a probiotic boost.

  5. My son was just diagnosed with type 11 diabetes today. His electrolytes count was 16+. What should it be and what should he drink to lower it or raise it?

    • Hi Lisa,

      Did you get the individual electrolytes (sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, calcium) recorded? These ranges will be helpful to determine what’s best. Generally coconut water from the companies listed and Ultima are the best fit for the needs of those with Type 2 diabetes.

  6. Hi,

    I have chronic Lyme and dysautonomia and am extremely prone to diarrhea from magnesium. My Dr wants me stay on a low simple sugar diet. I will be starting antibiotics and will likely have Herxmeier reaction, including diarrhea. I’m looking for a low or glucose free electronic drink with little to no magnesium but other good stuff. I have used Pedialyte in the past but that is all glucose. Thanks.

    • Hi Patti,

      The electrolyte drink with the lowest magnesium I know of is Ultima (8 grams, 2% DV). Electrolyte drinks that just have sodium and potassium usually use sugar or artificial sweeteners. The other option would be to make the PaleoEdge electrolyte drink and use 1/4 tsp. sea salt in the place of Endure/Lyteshow.
      32 oz. water
      1 orange, lemon and 1/2 cucumber sliced
      1/4 tsp. sea salt

Leave a reply

2 + four =

The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Alex Swanson M.S., unless otherwise noted. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Any recommendations made on this website should be first reviewed by your doctor.