Nutrition plays a significant role in overall health. More often than not, protein and carbohydrates are center stage. However, there is one nutrient that has greater value than protein and carbohydrates combined. And, that is water.
Did you know that the adult body is made up of 50-65% water? Water serves as a carrier, shock absorber, coolant, catalyst, messenger, lubricant, and reactant.
Risks and Signs of Dehydration
It is important to note risks and signs of dehydration. Fluid loss occurs through breathing, urinating, and bowel movements. Hydration is also impacted by activity level, metabolic rate, dietary choices, and health status.
Signs of dehydration include
increased body temperature
labored breathing with exercise.
Dehydration can lead to a host of issues. Most notably, the immune system suffers which puts the individual at risk for colds or other illnesses. This is especially important to consider as we exit the summer season and roll into fall and winter.
3 Steps To Reduce Dehydration
1. Meet your water goals.
Establish how much water you should be consuming on a daily basis. A general rule for hydration is to consume half your body weight in fluid ounces. For example, if you weigh 100 lbs, you should consume 50 fluid ounces of water. Slowly increase the water intake to get to your goal. This will help your body tolerate the increased volume of water if you are not already at your ideal water intake.
2. Replenish fluids after exercise.
Most people do not bring water with them while exercising. Be sure to grab water after exercising and before choosing to have an alternative liquid such as an iced coffee or cold beer.
3. Fluid needs can be met by way of food.
Fruits, vegetables, and soup are all good sources of fluid. These foods can also help you meet the body’s electrolyte needs. Yes, sodium, potassium and magnesium are all important nutrients to consider even if you are not sweating profusely or participating in rigorous activities.
Electrolytes Importance in Hydration
When we think about hydration we often focus on water intake and forget about incorporating electrolytes. Electrolyte intake should be part of our daily regimen. Electrolytes are often associated with sport beverages used by athletes. However, electrolytes are important for the non-athletic individual too. These essential minerals include sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride and bicarbonate. They support the body by:
maintaining heart rate
regulating blood volume and blood clotting, and
Food is a good electrolyte source. Electrolyte food sources include spinach, kale, potatoes, beans, almonds, oranges, bananas, tomatoes, olives, turkey, chicken, fish and brined or salted products. Electrolytes from food sources may not be adequate for people who are exercising more than 2 hours per day, have chronic health issues, or use medications that deplete the mineral balance.
Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance include muscle cramps, fast heartbeat, headache, fatigue, disorientation, or extreme thirst. In this case, an electrolyte supplement might be necessary.
Let’s sum it up! Do you want to boost your energy levels and help the body work in your favor? All you need to do is follow my 3 steps listed above to prevent dehydration and improve electrolyte balance through mineral rich foods. This will allow the body to work at its optimal level.
This article was guest-written by:
Emily Luxford, MS, RD, IFNCP, CLT
Emily Luxford is a functional dietitian nutritionist helping patients navigate gut health, diabetes, obesity, malabsorption disorders, and autoimmune diseases, along with complex illnesses such as immune dysfunction syndromes, myofascial pain, depression, vertigo, headaches, and cancer. Learn more about her and her services at www.luxfordnutrition.com.