Always consult your physician if you suspect an electrolyte imbalance.
Electrolytes are chemicals that conduct electricity when mixed with water. They hydrate the body and regulate nerve and muscle function. Electrolytes balance blood pressure and blood acidity and help rebuild damaged tissues. The muscles and nerve cells rely on the movement of electrolytes through the fluid inside to function. Your heart is a muscle and your brain is a mass of nerve cells. Electrolytes are important.
Electrolytes are critical to the normal functioning of the human body. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of electrolytes. The common electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride and phosphate. The symptoms of imbalance may include twitching, weakness and if left unchecked, seizures and heart rhythm irregularities. Older adults are especially at risk for electrolyte imbalance because of the changes in the kidneys associated with aging.
Our muscles need calcium, sodium and potassium to contract. If these substances become imbalanced the muscle can either become weak or contract excessively. The heart and nerve cells use electrolytes to carry messages to other cells. If there is an imbalance these messages may not travel.
Electrolyte levels change in relation to water levels and other factors such as what we eat and the amount that we sweat. Diarrhea can cause a dangerous loss of electrolytes that is life threatening. Diarrhea and vomiting can cause severe symptoms of dehydration and must be addressed. The sooner that diarrhea is completely stopped the better. Sodium and potassium can be lost quickly when it is allowed to continue.
Although sports drinks, gels and candies supply various electrolytes, consuming too much of these products can result in an excess. These drinks and other products can have a negative effect on the electrolyte balance as easily as they can help it. Make sure that you need these products before consuming them. Breast cancer, lung cancer and multiple myeloma can cause a calcium excess due to bone destruction. Kidney disease can cause excess potassium. Excess magnesium can also be caused by kidney disease but overuse of laxatives or antacids can raise magnesium levels to a dangerously high level. Dehydration is a common cause for excess sodium.
A harmful concentration of magnesium, sodium, potassium or calcium can produce one or more of the following:
*Changes in Blood Pressure
*Nervous System Disorders
Excessive calcium may manifest by:
*Extreme Muscle Weakness
*Loss of Appetite
There are some cases of electrolyte imbalance that cannot be prevented such as those caused by kidney disease. A well balanced diet can help reduce the risk of a shortage most of the time. If you work out very hard and sweat a lot, a sports drink can lessen the impact of electrolytes lost in the sweat. There are foods that can help maintain good levels of specific electrolytes. (1)
Sodium can be found in dill pickles, tomato juice, sauces and soups and table salt. Chloride is found in tomato juice, sauces and soups, lettuce, olives and table salt. Potatoes with the skin on, plain yogurt and bananas are rich in potassium. Halibut, pumpkin seeds and spinach will supply an abundance of magnesium. Calcium can be obtained in yogurt, milk, ricotta cheese, collard greens, kale and sardines. Sometimes when an older adult is taking a diuretic a potassium supplement is prescribed by their doctor.
Electrolytes are a critical part of our chemical makeup and this time of year, as we head into the high temperatures of summer, it’s easier than ever to have an imbalance occur. If you feel faint after working out, electrolyte imbalance could be the reason. If you exercise intensely or sweat profusely, consuming electrolytes may help to preserve your levels at a normal place. Be sure to stay well hydrated. Do not over hydrate because hyponatremia is a real thing and can be fatal. With the fad of drinking gallons of water to lose weight that is popular now, hyponatremia is an ever present threat. It is simply too little sodium in the blood and can be fatal. Too much water can wash the sodium out of your body. Use some common sense. Although there are many factors that can cause hyponatremia, we are addressing drinking too much water. If your urine is a pale yellow color and you are not thirsty, don’t keep drinking. Those are the indicators of your sodium level.
Summer is a glorious time for outside exercise. The right amount of sunlight can be very beneficial for depression. Always wear sunscreen and stay out of the sun during midday when it is it’s most intense. Monitor your fluids and electrolytes and breeze through this joyous season in top form.
Spring has now arrived and many of us physical fitness buffs will be taking out activities outside where we can enjoy nature as we go at our favorite outside recreational activities. Some will go for walks, while a good many of us will go at our activity vigorously enough to raise a sweat along with our heart rates. While it is my personal opinion that outside exercise is great for everyone, we have to be quite vigilant about our level of hydration as dehydration can not only hurt us, it can kill us.
Hydration might seem a boring topic, yet it is an important one as there are people who really do not understand the implications of both dehydration, nor the ill effects of over hydrating. It was through my following of Weight Watchers social media Connect where I really became aware of some of the crazy ideas which proliferate the internet, ideas which range from being mildly ill informed to down right dangerous. The mildly ill informed crowd would be the folks who make it a point to drink one to two gallons of water per day with no solid scientific evidence to back up their reasoning, it was just something they read on the internet they should do in order to lose weight easier. For most people, the worse aspect of this would be never being to get too far away from a bathroom during they day as they will be urinating on a frequent basis. When this practice becomes harmful is if the individual drinks enough to suffer a condition called hyponatremia, or water intoxication. Water intoxication is a result of drinking an extreme amount of water in a short time which will cause the level of salt, or sodium, in your blood to drop too low. This situation is serious and can be fatal.
For the downright dangerous idea I saw perpetuated on Connect was by a very popular male “Connector” who appears to have little else to do with his day than to flex his muscles for selfie pictures which he constantly posts every day. Many people who are struggling with weight loss and are new to physcial fitness hang on every word this gentleman writes on his page. This fellow who is a huge influence to a great many people once wrote about how he likes to workout while dehydrated. This is an old body builder trick for just before competition in order to make their muscles appear more “cut”, or, to have a clear separation between each muscle group. While this ignorant practice might be good for him, it is beyond the pale, that he would put this word out to people who for the most part do not know better than to workout while dehydrated. I called him out on this and was blocked not long afterwards. I sure hope this individual never put out dangerous word like that ever again.
Friends, before I get further into dehydration, refer to the chart below and remember this as a rule of thumb in regards to hydration; there is no magic amont of water you need to drink each day for your health. The amount you need is going to be unique to each individual based on not ony how much water is consumed, but how much water is taken in through other sources of liquid, including food. Look at the simple chart below and use that as a hydration guide. By the color of your urine, you can know if you are taking in too little or too much water. Note, the upper color is a light straw and does not represent entirely clear, like water, urine. If your urine can pass for drinking water, you have likely depleted a good amount of your body’s electrolytes and you will need to replenish them before partaking in vigorous exercise.
To get more into science of this topic, did you know that the human body is made up of about 60% water?
Water is crucial for healthy digestion of our foods, proper breathing, and damn near every basic function. When you are not taking in enough water, dehydration will happen which can lead into less than favorable side effects. Unfortunately, more than 70% of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration according to doctors (1). And because it can come in the form of several different symptoms, many people fail to notice that they are dehydrated.
What is dehydration?
Your body requires adequate water intake for every function it performs. Dehydration can be mild, moderate, severe, or chronic depending on how much fluid your body is missing.
Dehydration is your body’s negative reaction to having a water deficiency.
Chronic dehydration is a condition where dehydration lasts for longer periods of time.
Again, without sufficient water intake, your body cannot perform its basic functions properly. No matter your age, dehydration can occur for several reasons. Babies and elderly people are more prone to fluid deficiencies than adolescents and adults.
Young children are most likely to experience diarrhea and vomiting which purges both electrolytes and water, which increase the chances of dehydration. Babies also do not have fully developed kidneys. This means they will retain less water than they store in thier tiny little bodies.
Older adults naturally have less water in their bodies and often times will not realize they are thirsty until dehydration has already set in. Additionally, elderly people are more susceptible to dehydration if they take certain medications like diuretics.
Causes of dehydration
The causes of dehydration can vary per individual depending on certain lifestyles, genetic, and environmental factors. Most people are prone to dehydration under specific circumstances such as exercising frequently, illness and exposure to heat.
Your body loses water every day just through breathing, sweating, going to the bathroom, and through saliva. If you have a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, you are excreting additional fluids that can worsen dehydration. People who are active, exercise frequently, and sweat a lot also have an increased risk of fluid difficiencies.
In addition, some digestive tract issues can make you more prone to diarrhea which is linked to dehydration. Some of these conditions include:
Irritable bowel syndrome
Inflammatory bowel disease
Always, make it a habit to increase your water intake when you are releasing more water than you normaly would.
Signs you are dehydrated:
Not urinating enough, or your urine is dark yellow. A simple way to determine if you are dehydrated is by checking the frequency of your bathroom trips as well as the color of your urine. If you are not urinating frequently, and when you do it is a darker color of yellow, chances are you have moderate dehydration. The darker it is, and the less frequent you do urinate, the more likely it is you are dehydrated, period. Start drinking more water as soon as you see that your pee is a darker yellow.
Dry skin.Research shows that your skin contains 30% water which is responsible for elasticity and plumpness. Many people who show signs of dehydrating may sometimes appear sweaty but as you go through the stages of dehdration, from mild to severe, your skin will become drier.Your skin may also appear red and flushed if you are dehydrated. Applying moisturizing lotion can alleviate some skin problems externally, but drinking more water will help your internal bodily functions to maintain healthy, supple skin.
Bad breath comes from dehydration when you are prevented from creating enough saliva. And since saliva has antibacterial properties, the lack of production can cause bacteria growth in your mouth that can lead to bad breath. If you have “zoo breath” reaching for a glass of water may be more effective than a piece of gum.
Experiencing muscle cramps! Refer back to the idiot telling people he likes to be dehydrated when working out, and the harm this can cause people. Exercising frequently, or working in hot weather can make you dehydrated and cause muscle cramps. As your muscles work harder, they will stop functioning properly, especally in a hot environment. Excessive sweating from exericse or heat worsens dehydration and also causes you to excrete vital minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium. If you are experiencing muscle cramps, consider bringing a sugar free electrolyte drink as well as a water bottle and sipping on both throughout your day.
Fever like symptoms, having the chills and other flu like symptoms is commonly associated with infection. But dehydration is another culprit to having fever. When your body does not have adequate fluid levels, it becomes difficult for your body to maintain a stable body temperature which can lead to hyperthermia and fever symptoms. If you are experiencing flu like symptoms, immediately stop all physical activity you are doing and drink more fluids as well as electrolytes while you rest.
Not consuming enough water may result in fatigue, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Your brain is composed of more than 70% water so it is crucial to stay hydrated for optimal brain and body functioning. Severe dehydration can come in the form of confusion and feeling like you may pass out any second. If this occurs, take a seat, slowly drink water and give your body a rest before attempting any physical activity. Ensure you consume a source of essential vitamins and minerals from water filled fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, apples and watermelon.
Craving sweets and sugary treats. When you are dehydrated, it is difficult for your body to release glycogen (which uses water) as your main source of energy. If you are experiencing sudden hunger cravings for something sweet or salty, there is a good chance that dehydration is making it difficult for your body to release glucose into the bloodstream to use as a fuel source.Instead of giving into this craving, drink a glass of water or two.
How to avoid dehydration and rejuvenate your body.
Here are some tips for bouncing back from dehydration and restoring your body’s proper fluid levels:
Keep a water bottle next to you at al times. If water is constantly in front of you and readily accessible, you will most likely get in the habit of sipping throughout the day without even noticing.
Add flavoring to your water if you do not like the blandness of water. Consider getting a zero calorie sweetner to satisfy your thirst and taste buds.
Eat more vegetables. Aim for large servings of vegetables in each one of your meals. Some fruits and vegetables are made up of 90% water such as watermelon, cucumber, celery, zucchini and lettuce.
Limit caffiene and alcohol.Both increase the frequency of your bathroom trips, resulting in a higher chance of dehydration.
Drink unsweetened tea. If you like tea, a few cups a day can help you reach proper fluid levels while benfitting from antioxidants. Avoid sweetened tea as the added sugar can worsen dehydration.
Workout less during extreme heat. It is hard enough to maintain proper fluid levels when you are working out in an air conditioned gym. If you are experiencing chronic dehydration, consider less intense exercises while it is hot out.
Drink a bottle of water first thing in the morning. When you are asleep, your body is still excreting fluids. More often than not, you are slightly dehydrated after a full nights rest. Drinking at least one glass of water as soon as you wake up is a great way to restore proper fluid levels.
Drink water before, during and after exercise. Whether you are a beginner, or advanced in fitness, water intake should be one of your top priorities. We encourage drinking at least a glass of water three hours before exercise, sip on a bottle of water during your workout, and immediately after you finish.
Staying hydrated is key for optimal health and longevity.
Drinking enough water to stay hydrated can be a struggle for many people. Ranging from babies to older adults, dehydration can negatively impact your health at any age.
Putting conscious effort towards maintaining proper fluid levels will help you stay healthy and prevent dehydration from rearing it’s ugly head. If you are experiencing any of the tell tale signs mentioned above, consider adopting a few strategies above into your daily activity. Whether you are an athlete, construction worker, or live a sedentary lifestyle, drinking more water can help you improve your health and well being.
Weight fluctuations during the day are normal but too many changes over a lifetime can be harmful. This is one reason that we at David’s Way encourage a lifestyle as opposed to a “diet”. Diets are temporary and usually when the diet is over, so is the healthy initiative. We want to teach you how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, body image and mindset.
While there are health risks associated with fluctuations over a lifetime, these small fluctuations of 1-5 pounds over a day or a week are not true weight gain. When we weigh frequently and obsess over small changes, we are setting ourselves up for emotional eating which can lead to binge eating, which can lead to true weight gain. If small changes upset you, weigh less frequently, under the same set of controlled circumstances every time. If you want to weigh weekly, then choose a day, first thing in the morning, always wearing the same thing. If you want coffee straight out of bed then go ahead, but make sure that you do the same thing, at the same time, every time that you weigh. This way you will have a more accurate measure of your progress.
Even weighing in this manner, there are still factors that can cause a false representation of your true weight.
Salty foods can cause a dramatic increase at the scales. Our bodies seek to maintain a perfect water to salt ratio so as we increase our salt intake, we hold onto a corresponding amount of water.
Ironically, the inflammation caused by exercise can make the scale go up because one characteristic of inflammation is water retention, but only temporarily. Keep working out, with your doctor’s permission, and as you build lean muscle, your metabolism will increase and your body will get sleek and compact. The excess water will come and go with your workouts and as you become more athletic, you won’t hardly notice the temporary gain and you certainly won’t mind because the healthy body that results from a good exercise program is it’s own reward.
Hormone fluctuations can directly affect your weight. During these times, just keep doing what you know to do. Stay on program. When your hormones level out, so will the scales.
There are medications that can cause weight gain, water retention and fat. If you suspect that you have a medication that is causing a problem with your weight, discuss this issue with your physician. He very well may help you with that. Sometimes when doctors find out that their patient has a problem with a medication, they can prescribe another drug.
Constipation is a culprit in many cases of mysterious weight gain. If you are doing everything right and the scale is still going up, consider your regularity. Activity, fiber and water can usually help get you moving in the right direction. There are many over the counter products that might help. Your doctor can recommend specific products. However you choose to address this problem, just make sure that you do. A smooth running digestive system is essential to good health.
There is always the possibility that you are simply eating too much and have a true gain. Make sure to download the Calorie Counter Pro here on David’s Way. It’s free. Go to the “Menu” button and tap Calorie Counter Pro, fill in your information and you can download the information to lose 1 or 2 pounds a week or to gain. I always encourage people to go for 1 pound per week because it’s easier and you will be happier while you lose. This is a journey, a lifestyle, so just relax into it. Don’t stress, it will raise your cortisol which can cause weight gain and belly fat.
Above all, as David says, “Trust the process.” This program will work. Just work the program. We will be with you every step of the way. The light’s always on at David’s Way.
Often when people begin dieting they will make it a point to begin drinking more water. While this is certainly good, there are a good many who take this to an absurd amount, basing this on any number of ill informed individuals advice. Some commit to drinking a gallon of water per day, while others take it to a higher extreme. After all, if one gallon is good, more must be better, right? Of course we need water every day in order to prevent dehydration, help digestion and in order to keep our bodily functions operating, as well, water keeps our metabolism cranking at peak efficiency. This is a no brainer, but lets address getting real about how much you need. After all, there is more to life than having to remain close to a bathroom all day.
How much water do we actually need?
This is a simple question with no easy answer. How much water your body requires is completely dependent on your health, how active you are, and even where you live can make a difference. One who lives in an arid environment is going to need more than one who lives in a humid environment. That is unless the individual in the humid environment sweats profusely much of the time and therefore loses more than the individual in the arid environment. The bottom line is, there is no certain amount that is standard for all. The typical recommendation is eight 8 ounce glasses per day, yet some people may not need eight glasses per day. If you want to know that you are drinking enough water, then ensure that your urine is clear to a pale straw color. If it is darker, you are in need of more.
Remember this, you get hydration from not just water. You receive hydration by other fluids you drink, and from the foods you eat. About 20% of your hydration actually comes from food. Think of how dry your food would be if it did not contain water. That moisture in your food is providing you water whether it is from fruit, vegetables and even meat.
Other sources of water.
As I stated, you receive hydration from other sources besides a glass of water:
Many fruits and vegetables are almost 100% water by weight. One who eats a lot of these foods will not need to drink as much as the individual who does not consume juicy fruits and vegetables.
Beverages such as milk, juice and herbal teas are mostly water. This includes caffeinated drinks such as coffee and soda pop too. However, you will find that if you are watching your calories, water is going to be always be your better choice.
Sports drinks are great for hydration and replacing electrolytes when you exercise vigorously for up to an hour. These drinks replace electrolytes lost through sweating and will provide sugar for energy when you need endurance.
Factors that influence your water needs.
Exercise: Be sure to drink water before, during and after exercise that makes you sweat. If you are exercising hard, sweating your tail off, then be sure to include a sports drink to also replace electrolytes lost in your sweat besides the total loss of fluid.
Environment: Hot and humid weather are kind of “DUH” climates where your body requires proper fluid intake. High altitudes can cause you to need more too. However, what many do not consider is that many people get dehydrated in cold weather too. You might get sweaty underneath your coat while shoveling snow. Or not feel the need for as much water since you are not visibly sweating. Consider too, if you live in a humid environment yet like to stay inside with the air conditioning cranked up, your AC unit is removing moisture from the envoronment inside your home which can contribute to dehydration.
Overall Health: If you are sick, running a fever, vomiting and diarrhea, you have to be vigilant about keeping your fluid intake up. Follow your doctors orders if you must consume oral rehydration solutions. Other conditions that might required increased fluid intake are bladder infections and urinary tract stones.
Pregnant or breast feeding: The Office on Women’s Health recommends pregnant women drink about 10 cups of fluids daily and women who breast feed need to consume about 13 cups per day.
Water Intoxication is real!
A concern in regards to folks deciding to drink massive quantities of water when they begin a diet is when common sense goes out the window. If a gallon is good, 2 to 3 gallons must be better, or so some might think. More is not always better. Water intoxication is fairly rare and comes from drinking an extreme amount of water in a short time. When you do this, your level of salt, or sodium, in your blood drops too low. This condition is formally known as hypnotremia. It is serious and can be deadly. Use your common sense when increasing your fluid intake!
If you have began a diet in order to lose weight and be healthy, congratulations! We at David’s Way are here to help you make intelligent decisions in regards to lifestyle changes to be a healthier you. Do not buy into the junk science that there is a certain amount of water you have to consume on a daily basis. No matter how many glasses of water a day you consume, you can know that your fuid intake is adequate if:
You rarely feel thirsty.
Your urine is colorless or a light yellow in color.
You drink a glass of water with each meal and between them.
If you drink water before, during and after exercise.
Drink water if you are feeling hungry. Thirst is very often confused with being hungry
So, how much water do you need? It all depends on the factors listed above. If drinking eight 8 ounce glasses a day works for you, that is great. But do not feel that because someone else is drinking that much, that it means you must also. We are all individual, therefore our requirements for fuluid intake are also individual. There is no one size fits all with this topic.