Don’t let dehydration ruin your summer fun!
You can drink all the water in the world, but without electrolytes, your body will be left high and dry.
Electrolyte supplements are usually filled with sugar and artificial ingredients, but luckily there’s an even better way to get the electrolytes your body craves — food!
We’ll cover the best foods for hydration later on in this article.
For now, keep reading to learn why water and electrolytes are your secrets to a healthy summer…
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electrical charge.
They’re found in healthy foods like dense leafy greens, cucumbers, and celery.
Some of the most important electrolytes in the body are:
Your cells use electrolytes to produce energy, which is why you might feel tired if you’re low on them.
Causes of Electrolyte Imbalance
An electrolyte imbalance can happen for a whole bunch of reasons, but some of the most common causes are:
- Severe burns (including sunburns)
- Certain medications (especially prescription drugs)
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Eating disorders
Did you notice what all of these causes have in common?
They’re all connected to fluid loss!
That’s why the dynamic duo of water and electrolytes is so darn important for hydration.
Symptoms of Electrolyte Imbalance
How do you know if your electrolytes are off?
Chances are, you’ll have some of the following symptoms: (1)
- Mood changes
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Frequency urination
- Numbness in the hands and feet
- Irregular heartbeat
- Muscle cramping
Ultimately, the types of symptoms you have will depend on the types of electrolytes that are out of balance.
For example, low potassium can cause muscle cramps.
Calcium deficiency, on the other hand, can cause irregular heartbeat.
Next up, let’s take a closer look at the many health benefits of water and electrolytes:
10 Health Benefits of Water and Electrolytes
Proper hydration affects nerve and muscle function, inflammation, pH balance, and so much more!
After all, adult humans are 60 percent water. (2)
Here are some of the main reasons your body needs water and electrolytes:
1. Keeps You Cool
The body’s temperature control system depends on water and electrolytes.
Basically, water and electrolytes stored in the skin come out of the surface as sweat.
When the sweat evaporates, it releases heat and helps you cool down.
Without a doubt, that’s super important during hot summer months!
On the flipside, dehydration reduces the body’s ability to cope with the heat. (3)
2. Clear Thinking and Reasoning
Have you ever tried to solve a difficult problem when you’re dehydrated?
That’s because dehydration affects brain function (and not in a good way).
In a nutshell, electrolytes support the neurotransmitters that your brain depends on.
Without them, it’s brain fog city!
3. Boosts Exercise Performance
Scientists believe that drinking plenty of water and electrolytes may enhance physical performance during intense exercise.
Summer is the perfect time to exercise in the fresh air.
The problem is, the summer heat also increases the risk of dehydration.
One recent study found that dehydration reduces performance in activities that last longer than 30 minutes. (4)
However, if it’s super hot outside this can happen much faster.
4. Weight Loss
As it turns out, hydration can help with weight management.
The next time you feel hungry this summer, try drinking some water first.
Believe it or not, there’s a good chance that you were actually just thirsty!
In fact, drinking water 30 minutes before a meal can help you feel full faster.
5. Joint Lubrication
The cartilage in your joints contains 80 percent water. (5)
Ultimately, long-term dehydration can increase inflammation and reduce the joint’s ability to absorb impact.
Before long, your joints are sore, inflamed, and in pain!
6. Oxygenates the Body
Water and electrolytes help the blood carry oxygen to different parts of the body.
7. Helps Asthma and Allergies
Summer is a beautiful time to breathe the fresh air.
But for people with asthma and airborne allergies, summer can be the worst!
Fortunately, proper hydration helps the lungs and airways cope with pollen and other irritants.
When you’re dehydrated, on the other hand, symptoms can get way worse.
8. Supports Digestion
Dehydration can lead to digestive problems like heartburn, stomach ulcers, constipation, and an overly acidic stomach.
At the same time, electrolyte imbalances make it harder for the gut to absorb nutrients in food.
That’s why it’s so important to stay hydrated!
9. Skin Health
Dehydrated skin is more vulnerable to inflammation and skin disorders like dermatitis.
Plus, it can also make it harder to heal from sunburns.
Worst of all, chronic dehydration increases wrinkles and signs of aging.
10. Flushes out Waste
Water and electrolytes support the kidneys and help the body remove waste through sweating, urine, and feces. (6)
Don’t let toxins build up in your body and stay hydrated!
Make Your Own Electrolyte Water
Making electrolyte water is a cost-effective way to replace precious electrolytes.
Unlike store-bought electrolyte supplements, you can make your own without all the added sugar and artificial flavors in most supplements.
The best part is, it’s easy to make!
Here’s a simple lemon-lime drink you can try at home:
- cold water – 2 cups
- unsweetened coconut water1 – ½ cups
- lime juice – ¼ cup
- lemon juice – ¼ cup
- salt – ¼ tsp
The combo of coconut water, salt, lime, and lemon juice contains lots of electrolytes like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium.
It can help when you’re at risk of dehydration, like:
- In the heat for long periods of time
- Sweating heavily during exercise
- Exercising for more than an hour
- Vomiting or having diarrhea
Aside from times of illness, exercise, and hot weather, regular water should be just fine for your hydration needs.
Ultimately, you need to be careful not to overload electrolytes.
After all, the keyword here is electrolyte “balance.”
For example, too much sodium but not enough potassium can throw your cells out of whack.
10 Hydrating, Electrolyte-Packed Foods
As it turns out, the best way to safely get all your electrolytes is to eat them.
These low-sugar, hydrating foods are packed with electrolytes.
Best of all, they’re balanced so that you don’t have to worry about getting too much of one kind.
All of the foods on this list contain at least 85 percent water and are LOW IN SUGAR!
Cucumbers are over 98% water and are an excellent source of potassium.
They also contain magnesium, phosphorus, and a little bit of calcium.
At the same time, cucumbers contain a special nutrient called cucurbitacins.
Some evidence shows that cucurbitacins have antidiabetic effects. (7)
Celery is chock full of fiber and vitamins A and K.
Most importantly for hydration, it contains plenty of potassium and is over 95 percent water.
For a healthy snack, try cutting the stalks into small pieces and dipping them in almond butter.
Romaine and iceberg lettuce are great for hydration.
Both are full of gut-friendly fiber and have lots of vitamins and minerals.
Romaine lettuce, for example, is a good source of vitamins C, K, and folate.
Iceberg lettuce, on the other hand, contains vitamins A and K, zinc, and potassium.
Zucchini is a summer squash with electrolytes like manganese, potassium, and magnesium.
Plus, it has a healthy helping of vitamins A, C, and K.
At the same time, zucchinis contain antioxidants like lutein to help protect the body’s DNA.
Carrots are known for their high levels of beta carotene (vitamin A).
On top of that, they’re 88 percent water and are an excellent source of potassium and folate.
Just make sure to steer clear of carrot juice because it’s too high in sugar and can spike blood sugar.
Eating raw carrots is okay, though, because the dense fiber prevents blood sugar from spiking.
Hey, if it’s good enough for Popeye, it’s good enough for you!
This leafy green veggie is a fantastic source of magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and K.
Plus, the fiber in spinach is great for gut bacteria.
Strawberries are known for their sweet taste, but in reality, they’re pretty low in sugar.
For example, they have only half the sugar of blueberries.
At the same time, they are 90 percent water and are loaded with antioxidants like vitamin C.
Best of all, they’re fresh and in season in the summer!
Watermelon is a classic at summer barbeques and is known for its hydrating benefits.
And as the name implies, watermelon is full of water.
At the same time, it’s a solid source of potassium, zinc, copper, and many other healthy minerals.
This iconic summer fruit might seem like a sweet treat, but it’s actually pretty low in sugar.
Believe it or not, an entire cup of diced watermelon only contains 10 grams of sugar!
Kales is a dense leafy green that’s great for gut health.
Plus, it contains lots of calcium, vitamins A, C, and K, and even some omega-3 fatty acids.
To top it off, kale has lots plenty of anti-inflammatory compounds, which is great for disease prevention.
Broccoli doesn’t necessarily look super hydrating at first glance, but it’s actually 90 percent water.
Best of all, it contains potassium and vitamins C and K.
It’s also a savior for gut bacteria thanks to its dense fiber.
Just make sure to lightly steam your broccoli to make it easier to digest.
If you have any more questions about the benefits of water and electrolytes, feel free to reach out to us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.