First Do No Harm

Electrolytes

The best workout drink on the planet is coconut water. Coconut water will hydrate the blood and replace electrolytes faster than any other solution. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12056182]

Of the major electrolytes in the body (listed below) just two of them are not found in coconut water:  chloride and bicarbonate.

Since most of us probably get too much salt in our diets, the lack of chloride electrolytes in coconut water is usually not a problem, but if it is extremely hot out, you might want to put a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt in your coconut water. Bicarbonate (HCO3-), on the other hand, is not something we get much of in our diets, but since it’s a vital component to maintaining an alkaline pH in the body, our bodies will take carbon dioxide (CO2) and covert that to carbonic acid (H2CO3) which in turn loses the hydrogen and turns into bicarbonate which is then released by the pancreas.

If, however, you are doing a major workout (such as high intensity weight lifting, or running a marathon) your muscles are going to build up lactic acid and cause your muscles to ache. The bicarbonate electrolyte is the one that counters lactic acid. Thus, prior to a workout, I drink 12 ounces of Perrier water. And if your workout is intense or it’s hot out and you are really sweating, it’s pretty smart to add a bit of Celtic Sea Salt to your Coconut Water.

Here are the major electrolytes in the body:

  • sodium (Na+)
  • chloride (CL-)
  • calcium (Ca2+)
  • magnesium (Mg2+)
  • potassium (K+)
  • bicarbonate (HCO3-)
  • phosphate (PO42-)
  • sulfate (SO42-)

You will notice that they all have an electrical charge (hence the name electrolyte). These electrical signatures create a “circuit” (a path around which electricity flows), which moves nutrients to the areas that need them the most. Or, as we stated in our article on Celtic Sea Salt, “Charged minerals go right to where they are needed.”

But just as important, electrolytes are inextricably involved in the electrical impulses operating our brains and nervous systems.

Without electrolytes, we cease to function and die. An imbalance (having too much of one or more electrolytes) can also be dangerous.

This is the connection between sea water and amniotic fluid, and the secret behind the healing powers built into Celtic Sea Salt and Coconut Water. Amniotic fluid and sea water carry electrolytes in perfect balance. No salt has a closer constituency to sea water/amniotic fluid than Celtic Sea Salt. The electrolytes and tiny amount of glucose in Coconut Water is so well balanced that Coconut Water can be used as plasma in an IV drip.

This also should tell us why the average person is not very healthy. In one lecture I attended a few years back, I learned that 90% of Americans suffer from either an imbalance of minerals or from a lack of minerals. The good news is that the human animal, with proper nutrition and minerals, can start to bounce back within 30 days.

We’ve mentioned in another article at this site how our cell membranes use cholesterol to create hydrophobic (water hating) bonds. Without these bonds, we’d all melt in a rain shower. Even more interesting is the simple fact that our cell membranes are the wiring systems that carry the electrical charges from electrolytes, which maintain our steady voltage. And perhaps even more interesting, if you’ll excuse the digression, is that each living cell gives off a light known as bioluminescence, but that’s a whole nother ballgame.

As you can see, the cell membrane is not just an overcoat that holds all the good stuff inside the cell. It is so important to the overall function of the human body that we must now bring in a short, but important, digression:

Trans Fats

Trans fats resemble cholesterol. Thus, in our bodies, they take the place of cholesterol because the body can’t tell the two fats apart.

The body cannot detox trans fats. We just have to wait and wait and wait till cholesterol slowly takes the place of trans fats and they are excreted. But while trans fats take the place of cholesterol in our cell membranes, our bodies are not functioning very well. This is a major cause of insulin insensitivity, since trans fats are a bit tougher than cholesterol and block the insulin receptors. Additionally, they don’t carry an electrical charge as well as cholesterol.

This is why no amount of trans fats should ever be ingested by a living creature.

The Roles of Electrolytes

Nerves and muscles respond to electrical impulses. For a muscle to contract, it needs calcium, sodium, and potassium. Muscles are constantly working, even when you’re sitting. Remember your heart? It’s a muscle.

Electrolytes are so important that the body has quite a few mechanisms and systems to regulate their concentrations, though mainly through the actions of hormones and the kidneys.

Without the proper concentration of electrolytes, a muscle won’t fully contract or could contract too much, or could even go into a spasm.

Because a living creature's functions are biochemical and bioelectrical, nearly every action, reaction, and interaction in the body is associated with an electrical charge, and that charge is supplied by electrolytes.

When you work out, you sweat. When you sweat you lose electrolytes, mainly sodium (sweat is salty) and potassium, but you also lose the others, though in smaller quantities.

Obviously, when you sweat, you also lose water. Now here’s something of a warning: drinking too much water can cause a dangerous situation because you can wash away your electrolytes.

There is a disorder that looks like an addiction to water, called polydipsia. It is caused by an extreme thirst. Diabetics can suffer from this. Polydipsia can lead to death, as electrolytes are washed away.

Here are things that can cause a shortage or imbalance (overage) of electrolytes:

  • Kidney disease
  • Vomiting for prolonged periods (during pregnancy or illness), bulimia
  • Severe dehydration
  • Heatwaves
  • pH imbalances
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Diuretics or ACE inhibitors
  • Heart drugs (can build up dangerous levels of potassium)
  • Cancer treatment
  • Low levels of vitamin D (decreases calcium absorption)
  • Diabetes and liver failure (can lead to low sodium levels)
  • Too much or too little fluids

Symptoms of a shortage of electrolytes (or an imbalance of electrolytes) are as follows:

  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Bone disorders (long term)
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Twitching
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Seizures
  • Numbness
  • Fatigue, lethargy
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle spasm
  • Charlie horses

Thus, in a fully stocked first aid kit, you should always have a can of Coconut Water and some Celtic Sea Salt.

If you get a regular checkup, most of the time an electrolyte panel is completed as part of routine blood-work.

So, for those of you who are going to go for a workout, again let me hit some highlights.

If you’re going to do a workout that will build up lactic acid, then you’ll need some bicarbonate. Here is a list of mineral waters and their bicarbonate amounts I found at http://www.mgwater.com/bicarb.shtml

San Pellegrino: 219.6 mg per litre
Perrier: 390 mg per litre
Vittel: 402 mg per litre
Campilho: 1479 mg per litre
Qu zac: 1685.4 mg per litre
San Narciso: 2165.5 mg per litre

I cannot vouch for their taste since I’ve only tried the Perrier water.

And to rehydrate during and after the workout, you’re going to need some Coconut Water.

Nothing will rehydrate your blood faster. Nothing.

The Controversy

If you Google coconut water and hydration on the web, you’ll find some interesting stuff. Stuff I call BS. Some say it’s great if you like the taste. I am not big on the taste of coconut, but the first time I tasted it, it tasted nothing like coconut. It was slightly sweet. In fact, it tasted great.

From Web MD:

Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD and author of Nancy Clarks Sports Nutrition Guidebook says coconut water won’t rehydrate the body unless you can drink plenty of it. If you enjoy the taste and can tolerate large amounts, it could help keep you hydrated. [The Truth About Coconut Water]

This seems to fly in the face of all research, that is, until you read her book and find out she’s talking about marathon running. And if you want to know what I think about marathon running, you have to read this article: The Best Exercise Advice You’ll Ever Hear.

Here’s more from that same article:

Staying hydrated is one of the most important things for recreational and professional athletes. And if the taste of coconut water helps you drink plenty of fluids, it is a fine choice for most people but may not be for those in prolonged physical activity.

Coconut water is low in carbohydrates and sodium and rich in potassium, which is not exactly what athletes need when exercising rigorously, says Clark.

“Whether you choose a sports drink, coconut water, or plain water, they all work to keep your body hydrated. The challenge is when you exercise strenuously for more than three hours in the heat and lose lots of body fluids, you need easily absorbed carbs for quick energy and to replace lost electrolytes like sodium and potassium,” Clark says.

Please note: “The challenge is when you exercise strenuously for more than three hours ….”

If you exercise more than three hours (strenuously), you don’t need a sports drink, you need a good life insurance policy and a family plot. Again, I urge everyone this to read: The Best Exercise Advice You’ll Ever Hear.

The more I read about coconut not being as good as sports drinks, the more it struck me that someone's getting paid to promote this kind of crap. I was going to pull a comparison chart out of Bruce Fife's book, Coconut Water that compared sports drinks to coconut water when I found one online. But first, here is a graph from Fife's book that shows you how well coconut water hydrates.

The three things they are comparing are water, coconut water, and a rehydration solution. The most interesting thing about the "rehydration solution" is that it was a scientifically designed solution.

All the studies show that coconut water is a superior hydrating substance, unless you decide to commit suicide by exercise.

 

From a site selling coconut water, we get a comparison chart similar to one found in Fife's book, Coconut Water. It's not complete, but you get the picture. What you don't get in this chart is the very simple fact that coconut water also provides amino acids, many of which are necessary to good health. Sports drinks provide no amino acids.

Warning! Warning! Warning!

Browsing the web sometimes just grinds my gears. Even one of my favorite sites (that I pay good money to visit) tells me that Coconut Water just doesn't cut it for strenuous exercise because it lacks "salt." In fact, I found a warning that went something like this: Coconut water contains a high amount of potassium, which can have a mild laxative effect. People with severe kidney disease or taking certain medications such as ACE inhibitors or potassium-sparing diuretics, or people who have been told to limit their potassium intake should consult their doctor before drinking coconut water. 

Let us take a look at the mineral content of Coconut Water:

Minerals
Amounts Per Cup
%DV
Calcium
57.6
mg
6%
Iron
0.7
mg
4%
Magnesium
60.0
mg
15%
Phosphorus
48.0
mg
5%
Potassium
600
mg
17%
Sodium
252
mg
11%
Zinc
0.2
mg
2%
Copper
0.1
mg
5%
Manganese
0.3
mg
17%
Selenium
2.4
mcg
3%


Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3115/2#ixzz377luonvR

The potassium content is 17% of the RDA, which is 4.7 grams if an adult; 5.1 grams if lactating. If you drink two cups, which is how Coconut Water comes (mine is in a can; 17.6 oz), you'll get 34% of your RDA. I'm not sure if that's going to kill anyone. A large banana has nearly 500 mg of potassium. A medium sweet potato has nearly 700 mg, and winter squash (like pumpkins) have 896 mg of potassium per cup (cooked).

And the thing about potassium is because of our huge intake of sodium, we need potassium to balance that out. Potassium is needed to maintain healthy blood pressure, especially when it comes with calcium and magnesium. 

But the warnings? Ok, drink two cups at the most after a thirty minute workout and if you really, really got into a great sweat, suck on a chunk of Celtic Sea Salt.

Coconut Vinegar

Here is a little bonus for you: Coconut Vinegar is made from Coconut Water. Same electrolytes, same nutritional values, same amino acids. Like Apple Cider Vinegar, it's anabolic (builds up) rather than catabolic (breaks down, like white vinegar). And some of you will love this: It's lighter tasting, and less sour than apple cider vinegar. I've already substituted Coconut Vinegar in all my recipes that call for Apple Cider Vinegar, and they turned out perfect. Soon I shall be making pickles with it.

I order mine from this little family place online:

The Raw Food World

This business is run by a family of three very nice people. Great to do business with them and their prices are great. You'll automatically go onto their mailing list and they'll send out notices of specials. You can unsubscribe at any time.

I ordered two gallons of coconut vinegar and didn't pay any shipping (a coupon or promotion or something). This is a nice place to do business with.  

 

 


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