When the trickle of sweat down your back starts to tickle, you know it’s time to start thinking about rehydrating. Selecting the right blend of water and the best foods to replenish electrolytes is essential to help keep you cool during hot, sweaty, summer months. You can even make your own rehydrating electrolyte drink for a refreshing gulp.
You can’t just guzzle water alone to beat the heat. When you walk outside and immediately begin to melt into a puddle of sweat – it’s not just H20 that your pores are releasing.
When you sweat, your body releases mostly sodium and chloride, or table salt. Smaller amounts of potassium, magnesium, and even calcium and iron also escape when you sweat.
Ammonia and urea (that’s right, the same compounds concentrated in urine) are also released in small amounts when you sweat. You can even sweat out tiny amounts of sugar. If you don’t want to reach for classic sports drinks, which can be packed with artificial colors, sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners to boot, there are other foods that offer rehydrating benefits.
Consuming alcohol outdoors can lead to dehydration more quickly than usual. Alcohol in any form (beer, wine or distilled liquor) depletes your kidneys of both water and electrolytes. Ethanol (alcohol) blocks aldosterone, a hormone that usually allow your kidneys to reabsorb water, sodium, and potassium instead of losing it in urine. So if you’ve “broken the seal” and find you are taking frequent trips to the restroom, consider eating some of the best foods to replenish electrolytes and beat the heat.
The best foods to replenish life-giving electrolytes are rich in potassium. That’s because most of us already consumed enough salt (sodium chloride) in our diet to avoid needing to add extra salt in order to replenish electrolytes. If you’re craving salt, go ahead and add some to the foods you’re already choosing to help replenish other electrolytes. Muscle cramps starting to appear? Choose the following foods to help rule out potassium depletion as the primary cause.
Best Foods to Replenish Electrolytes
Coconut Water – rich in potassium as well as hydrating water, this beverage alone can prevent dehydration and keep your energy levels sustained during prolonged sweating. That’s because it’s a primary intracellular (inside cells) electrolyte, and helps cells hold on to water better.
Avocado – also bursting with potassium, avocado also contains magnesium, which can be lost during bouts of extreme sweating.
Guava – Refreshing and delicious, guava is brimming with potassium and a tiny bit of calcium. Not to mention juicy water!
Sea Salt Dark Chocolate – Melt some of this in your mouth to provide magnesium in addition to sodium and chloride to thirsty cells. Just be sure it’s 70% cacao or higher to keep extra sugar at bay.
Grapefruit – With less sugar and lots of flavor, try squeezing fresh grapefruit juice into a water bottle and add a pinch of sea salt to help replace that lost during sweating. Dilute with extra water if tastes too salty.
Fresh fruits – packed with water and a variety of electrolytes, fresh fruits like apples, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, mango, papaya, and berries all provide hydration because of their rich water content. Try cucumber too– it’s part of the melon family.
Identifying Heat Stroke
If you’ve been outside in the heat and eventually you stop sweating, or your skin becomes hot and dry to the touch, you need to find a cool shaded spot and begin drinking an electrolyte-rich beverage immediately to avoid having a stroke due to extremely high body heat.
Place bags of ice water or a cool wet towel on the back of your neck to help bring your body temperature down. Make sure to come to a seated position and get cool before exerting yourself further. Heat stroke is no joke, so be aware of both yourself and those around you. If you think you may have gotten too dehydrated, visit a clinic or hospital to assess if you need additional IV fluids to get your hydration level back to normal.
Sip smart and take a refreshing brew along with you to the beach, on a hike, or by the poolside. Here's a refreshing natural electrolyte drink recipe. Go ahead, get your glisten on, you’ll stay feeling cool and fresh as a cucumber.
Pomegranate Lime Natural Electrolyte Drink
½ c. Pomegranate juice
2 c. freshly-brewed and cooled green tea
¼ tsp. sea salt
To jazz it up with bubbles, add some seltzer water.
Garnish with freshly squeezed lime.
For extra bonus points, and extra potassium, add in ½ c. cold coconut water as well.
Try freezing some green tea ice cubes and plop these in as you are heading out the door!