The temperatures have been rising these summer months and I’m sure by now you’ve heard several reminders to stay hydrated. When we talk about hydration in the wellness community, the immediate association is with drinking water. This is a great place to start as water is one of the four macronutrients that help us to sustain life. Even a 2% dehydration can yield noticeable physiological changes and affect your mental and physical performance.
However, when it comes to hydration, water is only one part of the equation. The other equally important part is your electrolyte levels!
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are micronutrients, specifically minerals, that help your body maintain its optimal water levels, also known as “euhydration”. When they are dissolved in water, they are either positively or negatively charged, thus giving the benefit of regulating chemical reactions in the body, and maintaining a balance between fluids in and out of your cells. (1)
And this is in addition to having their own functions inside the body.
For instance, sodium and potassium are minerals that are commonly found in sports electrolyte replacement drinks because we tend to lose them when we sweat. This is normal in warmer climates and when exercising. Sodium and potassium help your body maintain a healthy level of water, which is around 60–65% water content, and they also participate in important nervous system signal transduction. (2)
Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance or deficiency
When you’re dehydrated from a lack of electrolytes, you may feel nausea and headaches, which makes sense because electrolytes play key roles in nervous system function.
Also, look out for:
Fast heart rate
The main electrolytes
Here are 4 major electrolytes you should know about to stay adequately hydrated:
Sodium — found in sea salt and table salt — this mineral helps with balancing fluids in and out of the cell, transmitting electrical signals between neurons, and is a vital part of how your cells take in nutrients and take out waste.
Magnesium — found in nuts, seeds, leafy greens, black and kidney beans, salmon, beef, and chicken — this mineral supports muscle relaxation and maintains healthy nerves
Potassium — found in bananas, and coconut water — this mineral is sodium’s partner in balance. It works with sodium to create signals and transport them around cells and the nervous system.
Calcium — found in cultured dairy foods, tofu, edamame, sardines with bones, and bone broth — in addition to preserving strong, healthy bones, it helps with managing blood clotting, muscle contraction, and nerve functions.
R’s KOSO and electrolytes
R’s KOSO is a Japanese fermented beverage made with over 100 different gluten-free plant foods. Amongst the long list of whole foods, it includes foods high in electrolytes, which makes R’s KOSO a great source of these essential minerals when consumed with the sources of each I have named above.
To ensure healthy electrolyte levels, be sure to consume foods that contain sodium, magnesium, potassium, and calcium on a daily basis, It is preferable to obtain these essential nutrients through whole foods that have been minimally processed, like R’s KOSO.
Keren Chen | CBT Nutritionist
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