Health Advice Paula Owens

With temperatures on the rise, it’s important to stay hydrated and replenish your electrolytes. Whether you exercise intensely or your child participates in an outdoor sport or you’re a construction worker with a physically demanding job, you’re at risk of dehydration and loss of electrolytes.

Any time you sweat, spend time in the sun and intense heat, the risk of dehydration and loss of electrolytes increases. Adults can lose up to 2-1/2 quarts of fluid per hour through perspiration. This includes a loss of water and essential minerals sodium chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium (the main electrolytes), which are used in the maintenance and repair of all tissue, utilization of amino acids, and as the basis of every physical and neurological function.

Some signs of dehydration and electrolyte deficiency include muscle cramps and spasms (charley horses), muscle twitching, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, circulation problems and fatigue. Those that experience leg cramps are often dehydrated and tend to have electrolyte imbalances or mineral deficiencies, specifically magnesium. Magnesium, the “anti-stress and relaxation” mineral is responsible for more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body. Magnesium is beneficial for those who suffer from anxiety, insomnia, muscle twitching or cramps, headaches, constipation, insulin resistance, diabetes and high blood pressure. Magnesium deficiency is a common problem in our society that can be remedied with supplementation. The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate taurate or aspartate, although magnesium bound to Kreb cycle chelates (malate, succinate, fumarate) are also good. Add 2-3 cups of magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts) to a warm bath. The magnesium will be absorbed directly into the body’s pores, instantly replenishing needed electrolytes and aiding in relaxation.

Although there are numerous commercial electrolyte sport drinks available, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the ingredients. The majority of commercial sports drinks include excessive amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners, HFCS, caffeine, toxic chemicals, preservatives, and artificial colorings that are harmful and should be avoided.

The unprocessed sea salt provides minerals, creates an alkaline environment in the body and is very nourishing for the adrenal glands. The amount of salt used will be different for each person. How do you determine the amount of salt to use? The water or beverage should not taste salty.

Coconut water and coconut juice are two of the highest sources of electrolytes known to man that prevent dehydration, balance body pH, improve digestion and boost metabolism.

Food sources:

• Magnesium – spinach, mustard greens, arugula and other dark leafy greens, halibut, sea vegetables, nuts and seeds, quinoa, avocado, artichoke, cacao

• Potassium – watermelon, avocado, coconut water, Swiss chard, cucumber, broccoli, pomegranate seeds, wild salmon, halibut, bananas

• Chloride – celery, seaweed, tomatoes, olives, leafy greens

• Calcium – Dark leafy greens (kale, arugula, dandelions, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens, collards, watercress), raw milk, sardines with the bones, blackstrap molasses, bok choy, hazelnuts

• Sodium – pastured eggs, raw milk, sea vegetables

Prolonged exposure to heat creates stress on the body. Heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer.


10 tips to beat the heat

1. Drink cool, not ice-cold water. Avoid soda, caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.

2. Replenish your electrolytes.

3. Check on elderly friends and neighbors.

4. Avoid storing water in plastic containers or bottles in your car or garage. Plastic contain Bisphenol-A (BPA), a toxic, hormone-disrupting chemical that causes fatigue, cancers, neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease, infertility, diabetes, and obesity. The heat speeds up the process of BPA leaching into the water. Heat plus length of storage time makes it worse. If you’ve got cases of water sitting in your garage, you’re asking for trouble.

5. If you work outdoors, wear light-colored clothing to reflect the sun.

6. Restrict outdoor activities and refrain from exercising outdoors in the middle of the day. If you must exercise outdoors, do so in the early morning hours or after sunset, and bring plenty of water.

7. If you cannot walk barefoot on the hot pavement, do not expect your pet to. Press the back of your hand firmly against the asphalt or cement for seven seconds to verify it will be comfortable for your pet.

8. Keep pets indoors. Never leave a pet outdoor in high temperature heat for any amount of time. Never leave a pet outdoors without water or shade.

9. Never, under any circumstances leave a child or pet in your vehicle, even if it’s for only 30 seconds. In 85-degree heat, a car can heat to 102 degrees in five minutes and 120 degrees in 30 minutes.

10. Seek immediate medical assistance for: a. Heat exhaustion, symptoms include heavy sweating; pale, cool or flushed skin; weak pulse with dizziness, fainting, nausea or vomiting. b. Heat/sun stroke: symptoms include high body temperature; hot, dry, red skin (usually with no sweating); weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing.

Heat can affect everyone, including animals. Be smart. Play it safe, stay cool, avoid exertion and stay healthy.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens, M.S., is the author of two books, is a nutritionist and fitness and fat loss expert with more than 25 years of experience. Visit Paula at

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