Categories
Physical Health Sophia Pollalis

Fun Ways to Replace Nutrients Lost in Sweat

by Sophia Pollalis ATC, LAT, CSCS

It’s officially summer! Bring on the iced coffee, pool days, sweat, and sunscreen. I LOVE the heat. I would take hot over cold any day of the week (as long as you throw a sweater day in there somewhere). In summer, whether we are working hard outside or not, we sweat. Walk the dogs; sweat. Get the mail; sweat. Some of us just look outside and start sweating. Fun fact, men do not sweat more than women, it has more to do with body size and composition!

Our sweat is mostly water. Water retains its heat very well, so when our body brings it to the surface of our skin, it’s trying to get rid of excess heat. Sweat is not all water though, and if you’ve ever gotten sweat in your eye or in your mouth, you know it burns and it’s salty tasting. What is in sweat that makes it that way? The answer is electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals dissolved in water that create charged ions. These ions, or charged particles, are important to the function of our bodies. They provide proper pH levels in the blood and transmit electrical signals to make our muscles contract. If you’re out walking the dog around the block and you start sweating, you probably don’t have to worry too much about replacing electrolytes or even water for that matter. But, if you’ve spent the whole afternoon out weeding the garden, it probably wouldn’t hurt to consciously replenish what you’ve lost. The minerals most lost in sweat are sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Sodium and chloride come together to form table salt. This is why your sweat tastes so salty. It’s also why, after a hard workout, we get salty crusties on our body. These are all lost in extremely small amounts in comparison to water. You can read about how to achieve your optimal hydration in my previous article, Let Water Be Your Friend. 

These minerals lost to sweat can be found in lots of whole foods as well as specially formulated sports drink. For general summer fun, here are some of my favorite foods and drinks to replenish what you’ve lost in light sweat.

A Word on Sodium and Chloride (Salt)

In America, salt is added to our diets in the foods we eat. Unless we exclusively make our food from scratch at home and add little to no salt, there isn’t a great need to replenish this. If your diet is already very low sodium, you can add salty snacks like pretzels or sprinkle some salt on your cucumber and tomato salad to specifically address this issue.


Banana Split

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Ice cream is the quintessential summer treat. Ice cream itself has some benefit to replacing minerals.  It’s got a little bit of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and of course calcium. Topped with bananas and strawberries, it’s got to be healthy, right? They add in a good amount more of potassium and magnesium. Other fruits you can top your ice cream with (that I personally highly recommend) are cherries, apricots, peaches, blueberries, and/or raspberries. Nuts are also a great option, like sliced almonds and walnuts. These all have potassium and magnesium in addition to other nutritional benefits beyond electrolyte replacement. Bonus: if you’re on the go, make it a milkshake! Making your own ice cream can also be a fun activity to do with kids or friends. You can use these containers to put it in (or if you’re like me and eat half a container in a sitting, use them for portion control or meal prepping your ice cream for the beach).

Smoothies

As I mentioned with ice cream, fruits are a great source of electrolytes. One of my favorite combinations is strawberry, blueberry, banana. You can use fresh fruit or frozen fruit so no ice has to be added Smoothies can be a great non-dairy alternative to ice cream, plus no one looks at you weird for putting green stuff in it. Spinach is a great addition to smoothies, unlike ice cream. It adds very little taste but lots of nutrients, including potassium and calcium. Orange

juice is a great liquid to make your smoothie with. It also adds potassium and calcium. One of the easiest ways to make different smoothies for you and your family is to use the NutriBullet. Each person can put their own combination of goodies in their container and blend for themselves without having to wash out the blender between each one. You can also use this technique to experiment with different blends and decide which mix you like best without a bunch of waste.

Salads

In the summer, I crave salads. Sometimes spinach salads, sometimes just a bowl of cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers. This cool meal packs a nutritional punch of electrolytes, as well as being high in water content. You can eat these veggies as they are, sprinkle salt and pepper, add some feta cheese, vinegar, and oil, or a creamy ranch.  I am also a fan of snacking on cucumbers with a bit of salt or ranch. In fact, I often take cucumber slices or bell pepper strips to work with a dipping side of ranch. It fills me up, hydrates me, and I feel healthy and refreshed. I like using these for dipping. I’ve tried using larger sizes, but then I end up putting more dip in than I intend and waste it.

Watermelon

Again, a traditional summer snack. Watermelon is very versatile and has a lot of water in it (crazy, right?) It’s got potassium, magnesium, and even a little bit of calcium in it. You can eat it as it is in pieces or slices or get some cookie cutters out and make some special watermelon cookies with fruit dip as frosting. Even dogs love watermelon. Mine enjoyed watermelon popsicles that I made last year by blending watermelon and coconut milk. I ate a couple and thought they were fantastic too! But, one of my favorite ways to eat watermelon is in a salad. Cut small chunks of watermelon and mix in a bowl with freshly chopped mint leaves and crumbled feta. Toss with olive oil, lime juice, and a little salt and pepper and you are getting all the primary electrolytes in one delicious snack. This can also be made into skewers for a backyard barbeque!

What are some of your favorite summer snacks that are high in electrolytes? Comment below or on Facebook to share our ideas!

If you are particularly concerned about your electrolyte balance after sweating, call your doctor or contact Positively Balanced so we can point you to the correct healthcare professional to address your concerns!

1. https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1113/EP086112

2. https://www.abbott.com/corpnewsroom/healthy-communities/what-are-electrolytes.html

3. https://derangedphysiology.com/main/cicm-primary-exam/required-reading/body-fluids-and-electrolytes/manipulation-fluids-and-electrolytes/Chapter%20125/properties-and-contents-sweat

Nutrition guidance provided by USDA information

Categories
Physical Health Sophia Pollalis

Let Water be Your Friend

by Sophia Pollalis


Water. We can’t live without it. Our planet (and we) would die if it disappeared. We get excited when we find water or remnants of water on other planets because it means life to us. That should get you excited about water. 

WATER IS LIFE. We are born in it. We bathe in it. We play in it. We are soothed by its sounds. It allows life within it. We utilize it for transportation. We are sustained by its ability to join forces with heat to harden an egg or soften potatoes (which are my favorite). These qualities and uses of water are amazing, but the most important thing we should be doing with it is drinking it.

Water is essential to our bodies. If we don’t drink enough, we die. If we drink too much, we die. There’s a large amount of leeway between those to extremes that allow us to survive, but how much is optimal? For years the general thought was drinking 8 cups of water per day. Some people say, no! You should be drinking so much more! Others said 8 cups was too much.

Created by Cassandra McCoy

We don’t have to figure it out, we have to trust our bodies. Most people can get adequate hydration from drinking when they’re thirsty. The trick is differentiating between hunger and thirst. One thing I have found useful in differentiating this is drinking some water whenever I feel hungry. If that feeling doesn’t come back, I’ve quenched my thirst and I wasn’t actually hungry. The only time not to follow this is if you’re working up a sweat; you need to replace the fluid that you’ve lost1.

What if you don’t like the taste of water or the water quality in your area isn’t good?  Do you have to force yourself to consume it, or buy a bunch of plastic water bottles and “kill the earth”?

Absolutely not!  Water is in our beverages and food already. Our total hydration is calculated through everything we consume, not just water. About 20% of our water intake is provided by food2. Does your kid only like to drink milk? Guess what cows use to make milk?   Do you have an addiction to diet cola that you’re not ready to tackle yet? The first ingredient in soda is water. If eat tons of fruit and veggies that have water in them and I feel hydrated, do I need to drink 4 liters of water on top of this? Only if you want to and you feel it benefits your body. Just remember that anything that isn’t water has other things in it like sugar, calories, preservatives, and other things that aren’t necessarily good for you.

Listen to your body. Trust it. It was created and has evolved to be able to support you.

 Here are some fast facts about water and your body:

1.       Water provides structure to your cells3. Think all the way back to high school biology. Remember looking at cells under a microscope? Remember how uniform and structured they looked? That’s mostly because of water. Think grape versus raisin, or a filled water balloon versus a dead one. Water takes up space. What products do we put on our faces to avoid or fill in wrinkles or on our hands in the winter when they crack? Things that hydrate or bring moisture to our skin.

2.       Water lubricates joints3. Most of the joints in our body are synovial joints, meaning they have a fluid filled sack around them that provides lubrication for movement. Have you ever slid a glass across your table or watched it float around on its own because it’s in a puddle of condensation? Water provides the lubrication that allows to rough surfaces to glide across each other.

3.       Water absorbs heat with minimal temperature change4. This quality is what allows life on this planet to be so adaptable. Water’s high heat capacity, or its ability to absorb heat with minimal temperature change, is due to the chemical structure of water. A water molecule is 2 hydrogen atoms bonded to an oxygen atom (H20). In order for the temperature of water to increase, the bond between the hydrogen atoms and oxygen have to break. This takes energy. A lot of energy. Think about boiling water for a big pot of pasta. Even when you have your heat on high, it takes a while.

4.       Water helps remove waste products and transports nutrients throughout the body2,3. Our bodies have built-in detoxification systems (hello liver and kidneys!) that filter our blood of toxins and waste products that our bodies create. Paying attention to the color of your pee is a great way to tell if you’re hydrated enough. Staying hydrated enough also helps your bowels move easier.

5.       Sweating allows diffusion of gases across moist body surfaces5. You have sweat glands all over your body, which allows water to rise to the surface of your skin, moisten the skin, and evaporate. The evaporation removes the water, which removes the heat. Refer to fast fact number 3 about water’s heat capacity.

6.       Water provides a reactive medium within the body6. Our bodies are miraculous in all the things they do. There are millions of chemical reactions taking place inside your body at any given point. Creating energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP to be technical) is essential to everything we do, and water is a necessary element to its production. Water also provides a medium for solutions to be formed and reactions to take place in.

7.       Muscle weighs more than fat per volume because of its water content7. Water is more dense than fat, therefore people with a higher fat percentage will float. Approximately 10% of fat’s weight is water, while a muscle’s is 73%. In general, women have a higher fat content than men because of our stores of fat, and therefore our water content is slightly lower. Typically, our bodies are made up of 40-70% water. Other factors, such as age and aerobic fitness, can also affect total body water content.

Sources:

  1. https://www.gssiweb.org/en/sports-science-exchange/Article/fluid-intake-strategies-for-optimal-hydration-and-performance-planned-drinking-vs.-drinking-to-thirst
  2. https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/WaterUNM.html
  3. https://www.ibji.com/blog/orthopedic-care/3-awesome-benefits-of-drinking-water/
  4. http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=3440
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/sweating#causes
  6. https://www.rsc.org/Education/Teachers/Resources/cfb/respiration.htm
  7. https://www.hydrationforhealth.com/en/hydration-science/hydration-lab/water-and-hydration-physiological-basis-adults/