Summertime Fitness – Hydration and Electrolytes

20130621-112133.jpg

With summer officially in full swing, it’s prime time to address hydration and specifically clear up some confusion about electrolytes; what they are, where they come from and America’s “drinking problem” of turning to sports drinks as a source. 

What are Electrolytes?

Chemically, electrolytes are either positively or negatively charged particles that, much like ends of a magnet, either attract or repel each other and other particles within the body. This quality helps regulate many processes, most importantly transport across cellular membranes.

Huh?

Let’s drop the science for a bit and drop some real life knowledge on what this means. Think of the last time you were out at the club. Most likely there was security at the door regulating who came in and how fast the line moved (membrane transport.) Once inside, additional staff patrol the floor helping maintain the cool in the club (homeostasis), as well as escorting out those who have had a little too much to drink and have worn out their welcome (metabolic wastes) and those who never should have been allowed to enter in the first place like the creep on the corner with the sunglasses yellin for more Jagah’bombs (free radicals and other foreign substances.) Frequently, the club will reach capacity and the rate new patrons are allowed to enter is strictly regulated and based on the frequency and volume of guests exiting. The club owners want enough guests in the club to ensure maximum profitability, but not so many that other guests or over crowded or that the club itself becomes unsafe. This is a perfect example of the sodium-potassium pumps that play a huge roll in homeostasis within the cells by ensuring that sufficient nutrients enter to maintain cellular function, but not allowing the cellular membrane to burst from excessive intracellular pressure.

The Sports Drink Dilemma…

Sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water and others typically are misbelieved to be the best source of electrolytes and rehydration. While they can work and even be recommended in extreme circumstances for athletes that perform at a very high intensity as well as emergency situations of dehydration and malnourishment, for the rest of us there is one answer to staying hydrated and rehydrating, WATER. First and foremost, like most other nutrients, if your diet and lifestyle are balanced, you are getting sufficient electrolytes from the foods you eat. To rehydrate, you simply need to drink more water, period.

water

It is pretty common knowledge that Gatorade and Powerade are loaded with sugar and other nasties. But Vitamin Water is one of the most deliberately misleading products on the market. Reading the label you don’t have to look very far to see that sugar is the second ingredient listed. But wait, it only says it has 13 grams, is that so bad? Look again, that’s 13 grams per serving. At 2.5 servings per bottle that most people drink easily in one sitting, that’s 32.5 grams of sugar per bottle, right up there with many soft drinks. Keep reading and you see many of the same acidic ingredients that with the sugar contribute to tooth decay and other metabolic issues.

20130621-112227.jpg

Electrolytes in Food…

Sodium and chloride are found together in foods as NaCl (aka salt) and work mainly in the body as discussed above to maintain fluid balance and cellular function. Common foods containing sodium and chloride are beef, pork, cured meats like sardines, cheese, olives and other pickled items. If you are still eating processed foods, most are made with additional salt, like in the case of deli meats, chips and other snacks, nuts, butter, margarine, mayonnaise and many condiments.

Potassium is found in lots of fruits and veggies,  especially green leafy ones like spinach, turnip greens, collard greens and kale, the obvious favorite bananas, tomatoes, oranges, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes, prunes, raisins, peas and beans. Potassium also helps to regulate blood pressure and prevent bone loss and kidney stones as well as its work in cellular function.

Magnesium, like the others is found in green leafy veggies as well as nuts, legumes and tomatoes. This powerhouse electrolyte also supports bone and teeth development, nerve and muscle function and the activation of enzymes in the body thus supporting other necessary functions in the body.

Hungry for More?

Jump over to Motility Training for Tom Holland’s 6 HOT Tips for Cool Summer Workouts

Advertisements

The Power of Healing Yourself with Food

image

I believe that with every action we take, every thought we think and every morsel we put in our body, we are moving towards greater health and vitality or we are moving towards faster aging, illness and death. What if we had thepower of healing and living at optimum health at our fingertips? I believe we do.

Our diets are a key component to the functioning of EVERY part of our body. I was thinking about the food I used to eat. I don’t think the food I ate as a child and young adult were much different than the average person in this country. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pretzels, bagels and cream cheese, homemade chocolate chip cookies, apples, grapes. As I became an adult, a few more greens, other veggies, whole wheat and other grains made their way into my diet, along with more variety (and a few more indulgences).But, along the way, my body began to break down, and it didn’t take long. I was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata when I was 8 years old. Then as a young adult, I learned that I had an underactive thyroid and then Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which really turned out to be leaky gut syndrome (yes, its as bad as it sounds).

Unfortunately none of the many doctors I saw ever suspected my sugar, gluten, dairy, low-fat and preservative-filled diet could have had an impact. Diet and possible food sensitivities were never discussed.There are countless studies that point to the direct impact of our diets on our health. A recent paper inThe New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 diseases that can be caused just by eating gluten. Most people with a gluten or food sensitivity often attribute their symptoms to something else – not food.Not only does food have the ability to do damage, but it also has the ability to support our body in its natural healing processes.

After many years of symptoms, some obvious and some not so much, I’ve discovered the power of healing with food. Making dietary changes aren’t necessarily easy, even if the goal is as important as healing an illness. But it’s critical to add in the life-giving foods that our body needs to thrive — like fruits, veggies, healthy fats and water— and begin removing inflammation-causing foods, like gluten and sugar. At times it’s been overwhelming and frustrating. Why would I want to give up eating warm, delicious French bread in my favorite restaurant or my mother’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, that I’ve known and loved my entire life? Is it really worth it? As I began realizing the tremendous impact my diet has had on my health and the possibility of healing my body of the Alopecia Areata that I’ve had for 36 years, I’ve often thought, “Ok, I can do this. It’s not that hard.” That is, until I’m face to face with that cookie! More than once, I’ve said to myself, I’m willing to sacrifice a few hairs for this cookie. (Can you tell I like cookies?) Seriously, one cookie is not going to determine the growth of a single hair or my overall health. But it has never been just one cookie.

The truth of the matter is, in order to actually heal our body (yes, it is possible to heal our body even with autoimmune disease) we need to make our health and our diet a priority. It really is about everything we put in our body, and the many lifestyle choices that we make each day, each moment. Making our health a priority is about feeling good, having optimal function of every part of our body and wanting great health more than satisfying a momentary craving with our favorite treat. It’s also about balance and discovering new favorite foods that support our health instead of destroying it.It’s about being patient and allowing our body to heal. It takes time to heal.It’s about trust — trusting that sound nutrition and whole natural foods support healing and good health and our body has the capacity to heal.
And it’s about knowing that we can’t keep doing the same things and expecting different results.Take back your power. Take back your health. You are the captain of your ship, the one and only one you’ll ever have. The time is now. 

By Jodi Briden at Mind Body Green