Electrolytes are what keep us going. These ionized minerals send electrically charged signals throughout our body, allowing cells to function. Without them, our cells would not be able to communicate and our body would shut down. Rigorous exercise can cause electrolyte loss via sweating. If you are tempted to grab a sugary, neon-colored sports drink to rehydrate, stop! The best way to replenish electrolytes is through food. Look to one of these food sources if you are in need of an electrolyte boost of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.
Calcium is the most abundant electrolyte in the body. It is responsible for strong bones and nerve signals. When it comes to calcium, milk is the iconic symbol. Yet for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, it is not an option. If you don't consume dairy, figs can give you the calcium boost your body is asking for. Snacking on two figs provides 55mg of calcium. Now that is a quick and easy way to replenish some calcium.
Magnesium is often an overlooked electrolyte that is critical in proper cell functioning. It aids in nerve function and muscle contractions, regulates blood pressure, and is responsible for energy production. In fact, over 300 of our enzymatic reactions require magnesium. Dark leafy greens, such as kale or chard, are a prime source when it comes to replenishing magnesium.
Potassium plays a significant role in regulating heart function and muscle contractions. Bananas are often thought of as a quick fix in obtaining potassium. But they are not the leading food when it comes to high potassium levels. Avocado beats banana any day. In 100mg of avocado, there is 485mg of potassium, compared to a banana which has only 358mg. Just another reason to love avocados even more.
When hearing the word sodium, we immediately think of salt. It is true that too much salt is bad for your health. However, when you sweat your body is releasing sodium. The sodium loss should be accounted for as it maintains the body's fluid levels. This by no means is an excuse to reach for salty junk food. Choose a whole food that is healthy and replaces the sodium, like olives. Olives are naturally salty and can be readily consumed after an intense workout. Just be sure to monitor your portion control as it is easy to get carried away.