What to drink when you’re sick: Healthy alternatives to water

illustration of fruit and bottles of water

When you’re sick, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids.

Fever, diarrhea or vomiting can all lead to dehydration, which occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body.

The most obvious remedy is to drink more water, but what if you or your kids want to mix it up with a healthy alternative?

We have some ideas for you.

Sports/Electrolyte Drinks

Electrolyte drinks are popular among athletes, particularly when training in the summer heat. However, they are also a common go-to when illness strikes.

Loss of water often leads to an imbalance of electrolytes in the body. Electrolytes, including sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, are minerals and salts that the body needs to function.

If you see white residue on you or your child’s skin or clothing, that indicates sodium loss and that you may want to reach for an electrolyte drink.

There are several recipes online for creating a homemade electrolyte drink, but here’s an easy one for you to use from Health, Home and Happiness:

Homemade Sports/Electrolyte Drink

  • 1 cup lemon juice (approximately six to eight lemons)
  • 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Place in a pint jar or container. Stir to combine (the lemon juice and baking soda will react, so stir it down). Keep concentrate in the fridge. This can be added to 1 gallon of water, or add 1-2 tablespoons to each 8 ounces (1 cup) of water.

But if electrolyte drinks aren’t your thing, fruit-infused water will also provide you with some extra flavor.

Fruit-Infused Water

There are endless combinations of your favorite fruits and herbs (especially mint and basil) you can add to water. Test out your favorite combinations, plus consider preserving your herbs and fruit in ice cubes for an easy way to add flavor to your water on the go.

Try this simple recipe for water with strawberry and mint leaves:

Strawberry-Mint Water

  • Slice 1/2 cup fresh, rinsed strawberries
  • Rinse several sprigs of fresh mint
  • Add to one to two quarts of cool water
  • Refrigerate for several hours to let flavors mingle

Ann Caldwell and Maureen Shackelford are nutritionists and registered dietitians at Anne Arundel Medical Center. To reach them, call 443-481-5555.

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