Be smart: Beat the heat

Be smart: Beat the heat

Heat affects everyone, including animals. Be smart, play it safe, stay cool and stay healthy.

Heat affects everyone, including animals. Be smart, play it safe, stay cool and stay healthy.

by Paula Owens — 

With temperatures on the rise, it is crucial to stay hydrated and replenish your electrolytes. Whether you exercise intensely or your child participates in an outdoor sport or you are a construction worker with a physically demanding job, you are at risk of dehydration and electrolyte depletion.

Any time you sweat or spend time in the sun and intense heat, the risk of dehydration and electrolyte loss 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) — that are used in the maintenance and repair of all tissue, utilization of amino acids, and for physical and neurological function.

Some signs of dehydration and electrolyte deficiency include muscle twitching, cramps and spasms, irregular heartbeat, dizziness and fatigue. Those who 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 and is highly beneficial for those who suffer from anxiety, insomnia, muscle twitching or cramps, headaches, constipation, insulin resistance, diabetes and high blood pressure.

It is important to familiarize yourself with the ingredients in commercial electrolyte sport drinks. Most include excessive amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners and colorings, high-fructose corn syrup, caffeine, toxic chemicals, contaminated water and harmful preservatives that should be avoided.


Electrolyte Beverage Recipe

  • 48 ounces spring water or filtered water
  • 8 ounces coconut water
  • 8 ounces either Triple Berry Juice or Tart Cherry
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons unprocessed sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • Ice


The electrolyte beverage recipe is an excellent drink for hot days. The unprocessed salt provides minerals, creates an alkaline environment in the body and is nourishing for the adrenals. The amount of salt used will be different for each person, but 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 for the needed minerals

  • Magnesium — spinach, mustard greens, arugula and other dark leafy greens, cacao, halibut, sea vegetables, nuts and seeds, quinoa, avocado, artichoke
  • 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), sardines with the bones, blackstrap molasses, bok choy, hazelnuts
  • Sodium — pastured eggs, raw milk, sea vegetables

It is important to remember that prolonged exposure to heat creates stress on the body. Heat is the number one 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 bottles in your car, garage or warehouse. Some plastics contain Bisphenol-A (BPA), a toxic, estrogen-mimicking, hormone-disrupting chemical that causes fatigue, cancers, neurological disorders, early puberty, cardiovascular disease, infertility, diabetes and obesity. Heat speeds up the process of BPA leaching into the water. Heat plus length of storage time makes it worse. If you store cases of water in your garage, you are asking for trouble.

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

6. Restrict activities and exercising outdoors in the middle of the day. If you must exercise outdoors, do so in the early morning hours or after sunset. Always take 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 whether it will be comfortable for your pet.

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

9. Never, under any circumstances, leave a child or pet in your vehicle, even if it is for only 10 seconds. In 85 F heat, a car can heat up to 102 F in 5 minutes and to 120 F in 30 minutes.

10. Seek immediate medical assistance for:

  • Heat exhaustion — symptoms include heavy sweating; pale, cool or flushed skin; weak pulse with dizziness, fainting, nausea or vomiting
  • Heat/sun stroke — symptoms include high body temperature; hot, dry, red skin (usually with no sweating); weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing

Heat affects everyone, including animals. Be smart, play it safe, stay cool and stay healthy.


Paula Owens, M.S., is a nutritionist and fitness expert with more than 25 years of experience. She is the author of The Power of Four and Fat Loss Revolution and the creator of “21 Days to a Leaner, Healthier You,” an online exercise and weight-loss program.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 33, Number 4, August/September 2014.


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