Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer Hydration

Where I live in the Western U.S., we are currently having a heat wave.  It is estimated that the temperatures could break records!  I'm fortunate because we just put up a small pool.  It's perfect for me at 9x18.  If I can sit in my floaty, it's big enough......

One of the most important decisions you can make during the summer heat is to stay hydrated.  With temperatures high you have the ability to lose electrolytes.

This is especially true if you are also working outside, work out or participate in team sports.

You can also become depleted with illness.

Unfortunately, with the beverage industry dominating much of our choices, we quickly opt for the high sugar chemical concoction sports drinks.  The power of marketing tells us that they have the magic ingredients for you and your children for hydration.  These magic ingredients are the same chemicals that might be contributing to behavior disorders, allergies, fatty liver, metabolic syndrome and some are implicated in cancers due to high carcinogenic properties.

You might be interested to know that these dyes are actually derived from coal tar.  At least the FDA banned the use of mercury or arsenic in our food dyes!  The GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) classification is certainly a loose one at best.

I have a couple of natural recommendations for your re-hydration but let me begin by explaining what electrolytes are.

Electrolytes are charged metallic “ions” that help balance fluid pressure inside our cells and control the pH of our blood.. All higher forms of life cannot exist without electrolytes, and that includes humans.

In our bodies, electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium , bicarbonate , magnesium , chloride, hydrogen phosphate, and hydrogen carbonate. Electrolytes regulate our nerve and muscle function, our body's hydration, blood pH, blood pressure and the rebuilding of damaged tissue.

Various mechanisms exist in our body that keep the concentrations of different electrolytes under strict control but when they become depleted by excessive perspiration due to heat and/or activity, muscles become spastic.  This includes the heart muscle of which is most affected by the loss of electrolytes.  You may recognize the first sign of dehydration as muscle cramps, specifically, the calves.  Electrolyte levels are kept constant by our kidneys and various hormones - even when our bodies trigger changes. When we exercise we sweat and lose electrolytes, mainly sodium and potassium. To maintain electrolyte concentrations of our body fluids constant these electrolytes must be replaced. Fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources of sodium and potassium and replace lost electrolytes.

Coconut Water is your easiest grab and go electrolyte beverage designed by none other than Mother Nature.  This beverage is one of the best hydrating beverages which I also recommend for adult beverages.  Eight ounces of coconut water has 46 calories, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 250 mg of sodium, 600 mg of potassium, 60 mg of magnesium and 45 mg of phosphorus.  Your best choice is locating a Whole Foods or Asian Market and purchasing a young coconut.  If that's not an option for you, one of the major brands will do.

If you want to save a few pennies and make your own beverage at home, it's quite easy!  This economical beverage isn't real popular with young children but many adults adapt to this tart beverage quite easily.  The body also innately speaks to us so the "feel good" sensations you receive will be your body thanking you.

  • 20 oz. of fresh spring water (this will provide additional minerals)
  • 2 tsp. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Braggs)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp. Redmonds Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. of raw local honey (options include pure maple syrup or a few drops of stevia depending on your chosen dietary plan and carbohydrate tolerance level) 
  • Ice
Mix all ingredients and viola!  You have your very own homemade sports drink.

I also advise you to increase your magnesium intake during these summer months.  This will be beneficial to those who suffer muscle cramps but specifically, RLS (restless leg syndrome).   A dose of 400-600 mg. is a nice dose. 

If you are an athlete practicing regimens of 60 minutes or more, you will want to purchase an electrolyte beverage packet specific to intense training.   A product that gets great reviews from cyclists and triathletes is Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes Fizz.

Stay cool, stay hydrated and prevent those pesky muscle cramps!