We’ve heard it time and time again that to stay hydrated we need to drink 8 glasses of water a day. It is also possible to get plenty of hydration and electrolytes through foods too. Throw in a busy schedule, a never-ending to do list and all the other stressors of day to day life and it’s easy to see why most people don’t meet their hydration needs.
Our bodies are made up of 60% water and our cells depend on water to function. Water also helps to remove toxins, keep your kidneys functioning as well as keep your digestive system on track. For more on the benefits of hydration you can check out our earlier blog post here
Drinking water is an effective hydration strategy, however eating hydrating foods provides added benefits of fibre, vitamins and electrolytes. All of these elements are fundamental for good health, however the electrolytes in particular will benefit athletes and active people.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are a broad term for essential minerals – sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, phosphate and sulphates – that have an electric charge. When placed in a water, these minerals conduct an electric current and are essential for a multitude of bodily functions including:
- Movement of nutrients and waste to and from cells.
- Balance and regulation of the body’s pH level
- Balance the amount of water in the body
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure
- Nerves and muscles function, particularly important for the heart and brain
The balance of electrolytes in your body can be lost through extreme fluid loss such as sweating, illness, vomiting and diarrhoea to name a few.
Who needs electrolytes?
Electrolytes help you to avoid fatigue and perform at your best. In particular athletes who exercise for more than an hour especially in hot conditions require electrolytes to ensure they can perform at their peak, as well as avoid side-effects of electrolyte in-balances such as dehydration, confusion, irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps and even more extreme side effects such as kidney failure or cardiac arrest.
Best Hydrating Foods for Athletes
Although we add electrolytes to our sports drinks and hydrators, first and foremost they can come from foods. And Better still, hydrating foods. You’re probably wondering what are some ways you can include electrolytes and added hydration into your diet?
Athletes who eat foods that have a high-water content get the benefits of quenching their thirst as well as replacing lost electrolytes to improve their athletic performance. Essentially, being hydrated is key for your athletic and every-day performance.
Potassium helps to lower high blood pressure and works with sodium to assist with muscle contractions. Our favourite hydrating fruits full of potassium are strawberries, oranges, peaches, kiwi, avocado and nectarines. Vegetables with plenty of potassium are sweet potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and baked potatoes.
Sodium plays a critical role in conducting nerve impulses, muscle contraction and maintaining fluid levels in your body and can be found in rockmelon, honeydew melon and avocados. So, a refreshing cold serve of rockmelon is the perfect replenishment! Vegetables that are higher in sodium include capsicums, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and sweet potato.
Essential to preventing cramps hormone and enzyme secretion, nerve conduction, growth and strong teeth and bones. Fruit sources include plums, dried apricots and figs, tangerines, kiwi and oranges. Green vegetables are often full of calcium, such as bok choy, Chinese cabbage, okra and broccoli.
Magnesium helps to maintain healthy nerves and muscles as well as keeps bones and the immune system strong and is plentiful in bananas, avocado, blackberries, raspberries, figs and guava. Leafy greens also contain magnesium, such as kale, spinach and beet greens, peas, sweet corn and potatoes.
In addition to this our BINDILYTE is the perfect flavour accompaniment for water with no hidden sugars and it also provides beneficial electrolytes to keep you in optimal health. Pop it in your water bottle for those busy days, so you don’t get caught out under-doing your hydration.
No matter if you drink or eat your way to hydration, there are numerous benefits to your health. Focussing on the best hydrating foods will replenish your electrolytes and aid your overall hydration. Staying hydrated will help not only your athletic performance, but will optimise your health and wellbeing.
Balcı AK, Koksal O, Kose A, et al. General characteristics of patients with electrolyte imbalance admitted to emergency department. World J Emerg Med. 2013;4(2):113-116. doi:10.5847/wjem.j.issn.1920-8642.2013.02.005