Staying sufficiently hydrated helps the body function properly. Being partially dehydrated, which most people often are, can impair the healthy performance of various organs and systems in the body. When it comes to exercising, you cannot afford to be dehydrated. One of the best ways to keep the body hydrated and functioning optimally during exercise is by consuming electrolytes.
What Are Electrolytes?
Your body would not be able to function without electrolytes. They are tiny minerals that possess an electrical charge, and they aid proper cell function and fluid balance in the body. You can obtain electrolytes from minerals like potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sodium. The interesting thing about these minerals is that most of them are lost when you sweat or urinate. When you don’t replenish the body with electrolytes, you can increase your risk of muscular or neurological issues.
Am I Dehydrated?
A quick way to determine if you are dehydrated is by checking the color of your urine. This is a standard test, but certain medications can alter the color of urine, so keep that in mind if you are taking any. The color should be a very light yellow, almost translucent, if you are hydrated. Anything darker could mean you are partially dehydrated.
Hydration is not just about drinking water; rather, you have to consume different foods that contain electrolytes. Not all electrolytes are created equal because each one has its own function. Consume the following minerals for sufficient electrolyte intake.
Potassium works to break down carbohydrates in the body. Essential for healthy muscle contraction, skeletal growth, and heart function, potassium can be found in bananas, avocados, broccoli, tomatoes, beans, kiwis, and citrus fruits. For the best sources of potassium, click here.
Phosphorus helps to maintain healthy teeth and bones, but it also aids with the conversion of carbohydrates into fats for energy storage. Consuming foods that contain phosphorus can also help to maintain healthy cells. Foods that are rich in phosphorus include adzuki beans, chickpeas, lentils, black beans, raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, steel cut oats, and quinoa.
Like phosphorus, calcium works to support healthy bones and teeth, but it also promotes the healthy function of muscles, heart, and the nervous system. Calcium is the most abundant electrolyte in the body, which is why you have to replenish your body with it. Some of the best calcium sources include collard greens, kale, almonds, oranges, okra, blackstrap molasses, and butternut squash.
The body needs magnesium. In fact, every organ requires magnesium for optimal function. Magnesium works to help the body maintain healthy levels of calcium, copper, vitamin D, zinc, copper, and potassium. It also combats stress hormones in the body. Great magnesium sources are leafy greens, Brazil nuts, beans, whole grains, pumpkin seeds, and blackstrap molasses.
It is important to limit your sodium consumption because it has been linked to high blood pressure. Sodium chloride, commonly known as table salt, is also beneficial for maintaining healthy blood pressure, so long as you are getting it from natural sources like seaweed, olives, and tomatoes. Sodium is also available in beets and celery.
When you don’t have enough electrolytes in the body, you can experience symptoms like fatigue, irregular heart beat, digestive troubles, headaches, insomnia, and numbness. Stay hydrated, but make sure you are eating your electrolytes! Fresh coconut water, not the bottled kind, is one of the best sources of natural electrolytes.