The Importance of Electrolytes and Hydration

Summer is an especially wonderful time to be in Maine. There is so much to do outside and we want to take advantage of our time outside gardening, working, and playing. The sun is very strong on those warm summer days and it is easy to get overheated or sunburned. Our electrolytes can be imbalanced by over exertion and sweating profusely. If we are at the beach or swimming we might not be aware that we are sweating. Signs we may be out of balance are fatigue or lethargy, irregular or fast heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. Drinking lots of water after exercising or working in the summer sun is important but may not be enough to replenish our electrolyte balance. What else can we do? 

Electrolytes are minerals in your body that hold an electrical charge. They help balance the body’s PH and the flow of water into and out of cells. We can leach out these important minerals when we sweat heavily. Mostly, we get these vital minerals like sodium, potassium and magnesium from the foods we eat but it can be important to boost our mineral sources in the summer. 

Sea salt in small doses can replenish sodium. Potassium can be found in raw juices, like coconut, orange, tomato. Good sources of magnesium can be found in nuts and legumes. Eating more raw vegetables, in salads and drinking fresh juices in the summer months can offer cooling and nourishing sources of food that will balance our electrolytes. In Chinese medicine we acknowledge the symptoms of extreme heat that damage the body’s fluids as Summer Heat and treat with food as medicine. Foods to prevent summer heat include lemon, apple, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple, summer squash, zucchini, radish and cucumber. Mung bean sprouts in clear summer soups are very cooling. Many of the sources of good electrolytes can be found in our summer gardens! 

Enjoy the summer sun but make sure to nourish your fluids to keep yourself healthy and strong.