Why are electrolytes important?
Do you ever feel thirsty but you’ve had your recommended glasses of water? Have a headache or muscle ache?
Dehydration can be one of the causes.
Dehydration also happens when we are ill (vomiting or diarrhea), have been sweating (from heat or exercise), are on certain medications or have diabetes, suffer from certain disorders (digestive or kidney) or because of chemotherapy.
Have you thought about what you drink when you are dehydrated? Or to keep hydrated? What is in the drink? Does it contain what you need? What about after you exercise (run, bicycle, swim, soccer)? Or after you’ve run a marathon (a 1/2 marathon or triathlon)? Or are out in the heat? Or been drinking? What is your go to for hydration? Is it Gatorade? Endurance tablets? Soda because the bubbles just seem to do it? NUUN hydration?
Sometimes the need for a quick fix is important, but what if you could eat what you needed to rehydrate? Or keep yourself from dehydration, i.e. hydrated, by eating?
Until recently, I hadn’t thought about food as a source of hydration or electrolytes. I hadn’t connected the dots between my food and my body, my food and hydration. I mean, I knew food was necessary but I hadn’t taken the time to peel back the layers or to listen to my body as it reacted to foods or to dig a little deeper or to connect with my food. I hadn’t thought about eating my way to hydration. And as I dug deeper and made connections, I came to realize that nature offers an answer to hydration – to getting the electrolytes balanced as my body needs them – and not only with one fruit or veggie but with many fruits and veggies – seasonally, monthly and geographically – providing an array of yummy and diverse options.
Last year I started adding lemons to my water and noticed that as the season changed from muggy and hot to dry and cold, my skin didn’t get dry, as it normally did in past years. And while I made the connection between my lemon and my skin, I didn’t think about it in terms of electrolytes. To me electrolytes were something I needed to get from a source that wasn’t nature. And yet, now, I know that nature is a source for electrolytes. And cucumbers are just one of the local seasonal September fruits and veggies that provide the electrolytes our bodies need for hydration.
It is as simple as:
1 – grab the cucumber
2 – cut the cucumber
3 – eat the cucumber
And as I write this I am thinking about the cucumbers in my water when I spoil myself with a spa day – now it makes better sense! ☺
But I digress a wee bit – electrolytes are important because our bodies need them to function properly. Cucumbers are a great way to rehydrate and provide the electrolytes. According to the Health Beat (thehealthbeat.com), cucumbers are one of the top eleven fruits and vegetables that are high in electrolytes.
Think of electrolytes as the “sparks of life.” They are ionic solutions, salts, existing in nature in the form of minerals. Electrolytes keep our bodies properly hydrated so the muscles and nerves function properly. They also balance fluid pressure inside our cells and control the PH in our blood. Since the human body is composed mostly of water, it is important that we take in adequate amounts of these minerals, also known as electrolytes. What is more, when we are well-hydrated, we are able to release toxic internal wastes such as harmful chemicals, urea and ammonia. Releasing these toxins helps our body stay healthy and well.
The essential electrolytes most commonly found in the human body are sodium, potassium, bicarbonate, chloride, magnesium, calcium, and phosphates. Cucumbers are 95% water, supply our body with vitamins B1, B5 and B7, and are a good source of magnesium, sodium, phosphorus, and calcium. But that is not all, the cucumber is also a good veggie source of potassium plus they have a cooling, anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
Since cucumbers are mostly water and we are mostly water we are a match made in and by nature. Corny, I know, but it is exciting to learn that we can eat our way to hydration naturally without chemicals. That we can get the electrolytes our bodies need without spending a fortune or adding unnecessary sugar.
Organic is better than conventional for getting the most minerals and vitamins and nutrients but if the jury is out in your mind that is ok – grab a cucumber, share with a neighbor whose garden is bursting with cucumbers, find a pickled cucumber – just enjoy a cucumber.
There are so many ways to eat cucumbers – plain, in a salad, as a soup, as a dip, cold or hot – the ideas are endless. I like to snack on cucumbers but when that gets boring, and it does, I like finding new and inventive ways to put my own spin on the recipes out there.
So, if you are like me and need a little nudge or you need full on help with kitchen creativity and variety, don’t fret, check out these recipes (https://www.allrecipes.com/recipes/1083/fruits-and-vegetables/vegetables/cucumber/ or https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/cucumber-recipes) and STAY Tuned for Cooking with Grams. She might cook up with something you’ll really enjoy!
To learn more about cucumbers – varieties and gardening techniques – check out: https://garden.org/plants/group/cucumbers/ – they actually have 600+ cucumber varieties – seems a bit insane to me – but I love it!
Of course, if you’d rather listen than read, I understand, Hokuma stumbled across this: https://youtu.be/SdL0CsZLieo – Macka B Cucumber (Cucumba) Official Remix Video – I promise you’ll love this and if not, you’ll at least smile.
Until next Monday when I bring you another “Did you Know?,” please share your thoughts, questions, comments, and/or recipes. I’d love to hear from you.
By Elizabeth Fischer
1 – The Health Beat – “Top Eleven Fruits and Vegetables High in Electrolytes” by Alex Swanson (Aug 7, 2017) http://thehealthbeat.com/fruits-and-vegetables-high-electrolytes/
2 – Global Healing Center – “Electrolytes: What are they & Why are they so good for us?” by Dr. Edward Group (Mar 7, 2014) – https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/electrolytes/
3 – The Health Beat above
4 – Global Healing Center above
5 – Same as above
6 – The Health Beat above
7 – Same as above