Summer is here and its sizzling temperatures mean it’s time to think about safety on those steamy days. Whether you’re working outdoors, gardening, playing sports, lounging poolside or by the beach, be aware of the importance of maintaining proper electrolyte balance!
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes refer to minerals present in your blood, body fluids, and urine that carry an electric charge. They are ingested with food, drink, supplements, and medicines.
What are the common electrolytes found in the body?
What bodily functions are affected by electrolytes?
- The amount of water in your body
- The acidity of your blood (pH)
- Muscle function
- Nerve impulses
- Kidney and adrenal gland function
- Heart function
- Many other functions
You lose electrolytes when you sweat and must replace them by drinking fluids that contain electrolytes. Water does not contain electrolytes. An electrolyte imbalance, whether too much or too little, can be quite detrimental to your health. Muscle contraction, for example, requires calcium, potassium and sodium; deficiency may result in muscle weakness or severe cramping. Too much sodium, on the other hand, can cause high blood pressure and significantly increase your risk of heart disease.
What beverages contain electrolytes?
Beverages such as coconut water and juices made from electrolyte-rich fruits and vegetables. Many sports drinks contain electrolytes, but unfortunately, they also typically contain sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup.
What foods contain electrolytes?
Foods that are naturally higher in electrolytes include all plant-based foods, but particularly fruits and vegetables, and primarily those that are red, orange, and/or yellow. These fruits and vegetables not only contain a rich-source of potassium but are also good source of magnesium. Nuts, seeds, and beans are also a good source of magnesium and calcium, but are not rich sources of potassium and sodium. Green leafy vegetables can also be a good source of calcium and potassium.
Good sources of potassium:
– Beans: white beans
– Green leafy vegetables: spinach, chard, kale
– Dried apricots
– Squash: acorn, butternut, zucchini
– Red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables: bananas, beets, oranges, bell peppers (slightly lower in potassium)
– Coconut water
Good sources of natural sodium:
– Bok choy
– Bell peppers (red, yellow, orange)
Good sources of magnesium/calcium:
– Nuts & seeds (magnesium mainly)
– Almond & cashew nuts
– Sunflower & sesame seeds
– Green leafy vegetables
Replenishing electrolytes after a workout:
You primarily lose potassium and sodium when you sweat. In order to replenish these lost electrolytes, you can make a juice from red, yellow, and orange vegetables – naturally high in natural sodium – along with some high potassium green leafy vegetables. Another great source of sodium and potassium is coconut water.
Water does not contain electrolytes, but is very important for hydration purposes. Generally speaking, you should consume approximately 64 ozs. of water daily. If you are exercising, you should drink up to 80 ozs. of water each day. You can count coconut water, fresh vegetable juices, and other high-quality electrolyte-rich beverages toward your total daily fluid intake.