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Even though the temps may be cooling (I mean 80s are cooler than 90s 😁) down a bit, if you're an avid exerciser, training for an athletic event, or just a heavy & salty sweater 🙋‍♀️, then it may be advantageous for you to replenish the electrolytes!

First, I am sure you have heard the term electrolytes prior to today's post. From either being active & athletic or even if you have had the stomach bug--the word 'electrolytes' is thrown around quite a bit. But, do you know what they are and what do they do?

Electrolyte are minerals & compounds such as sodium chloride (salt), potassium, calcium, magnesium, & bicarbonate,.etc. and when in solution, have an electrical charge. These electrically charged minerals play critical roles in communication and signaling within our cells & bodies for functions such as pH & fluid balance, muscle contraction (including heart), blood pressure, & nerve function.

We lose these electrolytes (primarily sodium & chloride) through secretions mainly through urine and sweat.

This is why it is important to replenish electrolytes after sweaty activities (usually lasting an hour or more OR if you are a naturally, salty-sweaty person). I'm sure you are do I know if I am a salty-sweater?? Well, there are lab tests for this, but most of us don't have access to those. So, one more practical indication might be that you have a gritty feel to your skin after workouts or sweaty days or even leave a white residue on your skin. Another indication is if you leave a white stain on your hats or clothes!

How do we go about replacing electrolytes?

First, if you have a heart condition, hypertension, kidney issues, etc --you should consult your doctor prior to gulping electrolyte beverages & supplements.

Electrolytes are absorbed better when carbohydrates are present. So, yes, it is suggested that you ingest carbs in the form of sugar (usually in the forms of sucrose & glucose)! (mind-blown emoji)

3%-8% carbohydrate drink (meaning 7g-14 g of carb in an 8 oz serving) is the recommended amount of carbohydrate.

The lower end is most likely for the run of the mill, not super hot/humid & sweaty activity under an hour. Also, if you have a sensitive stomach during/after activity the lower carbohydrate drinks are probably best for you as high, quick carbs may cause upset stomachs! Sipping (1 oz every 10 min) on this beverage throughout the workout is encouraged rather than chugging after the fact.

Most sports drinks & supplements will contain a combination of a few of the electrolytes with sodium being the one in most abundance as it is the one that is lost in the greatest quantity. The ideal amount ranges greatly depending on a variety of factors--sweat rate, duration & intensity of activity, altitude, temperature/humidity, and more). One of our favorite Sports Dietitians, @eleatnutrtion posted recommendations for the amounts of electrolytes in sports beverages and supplements, and, bonus, they also reviewed over 20 brands of electrolyte products! So check out their posts for more specific information on amounts and product guidance!

As an avid, intense, award-winning, salty, and heavy-sweater I have felt the effects of electrolyte depletion a few times! Whoops. The good news is, once you learn and practice to find what carb & electrolyte amounts & ratios work for you, you can prevent it from happening so your performance, recovery, & and not to mention your CRITICAL functions in your body aren't thrown off-balance and hindered!

I need to make sure this account and Nourishing Our Needs stays true to its (my) roots by making sure I address true public health topics, as well as our privileged (yes I said it) health education & information. As much as we talk about exercise, proper nutrition, sleep, self-care, etc. affecting our health, there are much larger & more important factors that determine health outcomes. Those factors are known as "the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)" and they are the conditions of the environments in which people are born, live, work, socialize, etc. and they can contribute to inequities and health disparities. Our slides review the 5 categories of the SDOH, but our questions below can add some context. And, if you answer "yes" to these questions, you've been given a head start in having better health outcomes. Do you live in a community where it is safe to walk? Do you live near a grocery store and are you able to afford fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins? Do you have access to quality healthcare? Do you live in a neighborhood where the air and water are safe? Do/Did you have access to quality education? Bettering our health is hard. And, we need education, guidance, effort, and the right tools. But, I do want us to keep in perspective that one's health is influenced by things that are much bigger than diet and exercise and that it is truly a privilege for us to be focusing on those two behaviors in this space.

I know the Summer heat is winding down in some parts of the country but it's still blazing in TN! So while this post may be a little late to the Seasonal party--hydration is important at all times of the year! Oh, and remember these masks adorned across our mouths a lot of the time, welp they have the potential to be a bit of a barrier, literally and figuratively!

Hydration plays a key role in many of our body's essential functions including body temperature regulation, cell function, digestion, excreting toxins through urine & bowel movements, nutrient absorption, metabolism are many more!

Of course when we hear hydration--we immediately think about drinking water. But, a quick reminder that our food contains water as well. Food like our fruit & veg contain some of the highest amounts of water--so just ONE more reason to try and sneak some F&V in at every meal. Cumbers, tomatoes, celery, lettuce, watermelon, Zucchini strawberries, cantaloupe, and peaches contain some of the highest water contents

So how much water do we actually need? Well--per usual--this depends on many factors when trying to calculate individual needs. How much water content is in the foods you consume, how many other beverages you consume, your sweat rate and not to mention-- your height, weight, gender, age, activity level, medication regimen, medical conditions, etc., etc., etc. I assume you get the picture--so--you're gonna have to figure it out a bit and consult your doctor if you are on any daily medications or medical conditions!

Check out our slides for some tips on how to estimate YOUR fluid needs!

We will have a few follow-up posts on tips on how to add more fluids into your daily routine and the importance of electrolytes. In the meantime, let us know how you're hydrating in these hot summer months and/or with your mask on during the day!

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