Baby, It’s Hot!
July in Iowa. There is only one way to describe it: HOT. This week, the coming days, with high temperatures and higher heat indexes mean we must be diligent in self-care. It doesn’t take much to over exert in these temperatures and have health issues.
Many of us seek and find the comfort of air conditioning during the peak of the heat. If you seek the swimming pool or are a sun goddess or work outside for your livelihood, it is imperative that you keep your cool with lots of liquids.
We have all heard the importance of drinking enough water and staying hydrated. A human body perspires, so the droplets of water will air dry, causing a cooling. With the water in perspiration, come electrolytes. They regulate muscle and nerve function, hydration, blood pressure and your body’s pH levels. Deficiencies or imbalances in electrolytes—which include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, hydrogen phosphate, bicarbonate and chloride—can cause everything from fatigue and muscle cramping to irregular heartbeat and seizures. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes; so it’s important to replace them.
There are commercial beverages available for electrolyte replacement. They are convenient. But, they are often laden with sugar.
Here are some natural electrolyte boosters to keep on hand to consume and keep your body balanced.
Sodium is one of the electrolytes that we’re quickest to lose through sweat. Luckily, ingesting salt is a quick and easy way to replace what we lose. Salt also contains the electrolytes magnesium, calcium and potassium; so it’s good for more than just sodium replenishment. Go for sea salt over table salt because it’s less processed. Himalayan and Celtic sea salts are widely available in most grocery stores. Just put a pinch in your water and drink. It’s that easy.
Packed with nutrients and low in sugar, coconut water is a great way to rehydrate and replenish electrolytes, especially potassium. There are a lot of coconut waters on the market. Look for one with minimal ingredients, especially anything that looks artificial. The minimal processing causes some of their coconut waters to turn pink when the antioxidants are exposed to light—it’s still totally safe to drink. If you have access to it, completely unprocessed coconut water, directly from the coconut, is always best!
Lemons are the queen of citrus when it comes to electrolytes. They’re a good source of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Add that to their ability to detoxify the liver, balance pH levels and boost the immune system with vitamin C, and lemons are officially a solid addition to any drink. Squeeze a whole lemon into warm or cold water for a sour jolt of electrolytes.
No list is complete without a reminder to eat more green vegetables—and electrolyte replenishment is no exception! Leafy greens such as kale, swiss chard, beet greens, bok choy and spinach are packed with electrolytes. They are especially rich in magnesium, calcium and potassium. Celery, broccoli and avocado are good sources as well. You can add an electrolyte punch to any meal by tossing in something green.
Here's a homemade mixture that tastes acceptable without all the sugar. I’ve made and used this.
Yield: 32 ounces (4 cups, or approximately 1 liter)
Serving size: 8 ounces (1 cup)
Directions: Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Pour into a container, chill, and serve!
However you decide to stay cool, be careful in the heat and humidity. Drink plenty of water, maintain electrolyte balance, and stay safe.