Back to School at FamilyEducation.com
Home > Food > General Nutrition > Nutritional Health for Women
|

Nutritional Health for Women

Water and Electrolytes
Water is essential for life and activity. Water is necessary for transporting nutrients in the blood, digesting and excreting nutrients, providing the structure to your body cells, regulating temperature, lubricating joints and organs, and protecting the brain and spinal cord.

Water must be replaced in large amounts daily and is the number one nutrient needed to survive. Athletic and physical activity requires water; sweating requires more. Dehydration is the term used to describe low water levels in the body. Signs of dehydration include thirst, weight loss, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, dry mouth, small amounts of dark-colored urine, headaches, poor concentration, overheating, and, ultimately, whole body collapse.

Water or juices in plentiful amounts is the best fluid source for your body. Water can also be absorbed by the body in foods (soups, melons, and vegetables). It is recommended that at least eight, 8 ounce water or juice drinks are consumed each day, in addition to drinking that makes up for sweat lost during a workout. (For specifics on fluid recommendations during exercise, see chapter 14, "Exercise Fuel.") Caffeine, alcohol, and some stimulants found in "energy drinks" are diuretics and cause your body to lose water (resulting in more urination); therefore, these drinks should not be considered part of your minimum daily fluid needs.

Electrolytes
Because the blood is full of molecules, the correct ratio of molecules to water must be maintained in order to keep the blood flowing and allow for transport of nutrients in and out of cells. Much of this transport follows gradients across cell membranes. Electrolytes facilitate these gradients via chemical interactions between molecules; thus, electrolytes maintain proper body fluid levels and transportation of essential nutrients. Electrolytes are lost through sweat, urine, and digestion and must be replenished daily. Sports drinks are formulated to replenish electrolytes. The most important electrolytes are sodium and potassium.

Sodium is necessary for maintaining water in the blood and for regulating nerve and muscle activity. It is lost in sweat and must be replenished with exercise that lasts more than 60 minutes, or sooner if exercising in high temperatures. Low sodium levels can cause drowsiness, weakness, cramping, and confusion. Endurance athletes who drink water without sodium during long events can develop serious illness. Sodium is found in many natural and most processed foods. Potassium also plays a role in muscle and nerve activation and also functions in glucose transport and glycogen storage. Potassium is lost in sweat; low potassium can cause muscle weakness and fatigue, and in severe cases, affect heart rhythm. Potassium is found in fresh fruits and vegetables.



Next: Page 8 >>
|

From The Active Woman's Health and Fitness Handbook by Nadya Swedan. Copyright © 2003 by Nadya Swedan. Used by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon.


September 1, 2014



Don't forget to hydrate! Forego sugary juices and sodas and pack a bottle of water in your child's lunch. If your child likes a little more flavor, spice it up with lemon, lime, cucumbers, or fresh fruit.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.

GO

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

14 Back-to-School Fashion Trends for 2014
Send your kids back to school looking sharp! Check out 2014's hottest back-to-school fashion trends, from clothes to shoes and accessories.

Put a Stop to Bedtime Struggles
Steer clear of tears at bedtime with these helpful bedtime tips and this printable bedtime routine checklist for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!