Our bodies produce certain nutrients naturally, but in other instances we need a little more help in the form of food intake to boost the missing minerals. We do need water, there is no doubt, but it doesn’t necessarily provide everything essential to a healthy balanced life.
There are two essential nutrients that we need, that water (in particular tap water and some bottled waters) cannot supply – potassium and sodium, which can potentially be critical if they are missing from our bodies. In a normal functioning body, you should have the proper balance of both, but this is not always the case.
Sodium and potassium levels are not something that is generally looked for in blood tests, unless symptoms are showing, such as dehydration, muscle weakness, fatigue or fainting. People suffering from eating disorders, such as bulimia, will often have a potassium deficiency.
Around 85% of sodium is found in the blood and lymph fluid. The hormone ‘aldosterone’, made by the adrenal glands, partly controls sodium levels. This hormone mechanism lets the body know when to hold on to sodium – pretty clever stuff! This hormone will let the kidneys know when to retain sodium rather than expelling it as urine. Small amounts of sodium are also lost through the skin when you sweat.
Whether you sweat or not, at some point in time, particularly after a stomach illness that causes sickness and diarrhoea, you will be lacking in sodium. This important electrolyte has to be replaced.
Have you ever wondered why one of the first things that doctors do if you are hospitalised is put you on a saline drip? It is to prevent dehydration and to restore your electrolyte balance so that they can treat you correctly. Many people don’t even realise that.
So what do we mean by ‘salt’ or sodium? We certainly don’t mean copious amounts of refined table salt thrown all over your dinner. The best salts to use are:
- Iodised (this also provides regulation for your thyroid)
- Kosher (lighter, flakier and good to cook with)
- Sea Salt/Rock Salt (best for flavouring)
- Himalayan Salt (strangely pink in colour but contains 84% trace minerals)
Whichever way you look at it and what your preferences are, it is better to keep around the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of 6g.
Be very aware however, that if you are a ‘grab and eat’ type of person, or have lots of ‘ready meals’ in the fridge or freezer for speed, that the majority of these contain relatively high levels of sodium.
Potassium is an electrolyte which helps maintain the balance of fluids in the body, and to transmit electrical pulses which allow for correct muscle and nerve function.
There are many foodstuffs that can be included in your diet keep potassium levels steady. Such foods are:
- Sweet potatoes
- Jacket potatoes
- Kiwi fruit
- Spinach, Swiss chard and other dark leafy greens
- White beans
You can make up some delicious and nutritious meals just out of those food items, PLUS, you are enjoying hydration and other nutrients from the fruits and vegetables at the same time! Recommended daily intake of potassium is 3,500mg.
Another recommendation in terms of fluid intake is coconut water. The main nutrient in coconut water is potassium. It supplies you with 600 mg (12% DV) making it a high electrolyte drink to consume.
Coconut water also has a trace amount of sodium, and up to 10% of your daily calcium and magnesium necessary levels.
So the moral of the story is – intersperse your water hydration with coconut water – you will get the top up of potassium and other nutrients that you need. What’s more, is that it goes really well in our Hydratem8 bottles!