The Importance of Electrolytes

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A host of sports drinks and rehydration products are marketed as a rich source of electrolytes, to the point where these products have become subject to parody (see the movie ‘Idiocracy’, for example). So it makes sense to wonder if electrolytes live up to the hype and why exactly, we need them.

What is an Electrolyte?

As you may remember from school biology classes, electrolytes are electrically charged minerals that are essential for human health. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Chloride
  • Phosphorous

image-pgx-blog-point-20160502 Why Do We Need Them?

Electrolytes are needed for proper muscle function and nerve signalling, and to control what goes in and comes out of our cells, including water.* Without the right balance of electrolytes, cells begin to lose water and let in toxins. * They also help keep a healthy blood pH and normal healthy bone function and other essential physiological processes.*

 Maintaining Electrolyte Balance

Electrolytes are lost when we sweat and when we go to the bathroom, although our kidneys are usually pretty good at conserving them as needed. In order to maintain levels of electrolytes in our blood and tissues, we have to drink fluids that contain these minerals or get them from our food.

Water itself does not contain electrolytes and drinking too much water without enough electrolytes can cause an imbalance. In fact, by ensuring a good intake of electrolytes, it is possible to keep hydrated more efficiently with less water, which could give athletes a competitive edge, save time in emergency situations, and help to conserve water.

To stay properly hydrated, we usually just need to drink plenty of water and eat fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy whole grains, nuts, seeds, pulses and legumes, all of which contain a variety of essential minerals, including electrolytes.

However, when hot weather, intense exercise or anything else causes us to lose a lot of fluids, a ready-made electrolyte product can be useful. Try mixing up this delicious PGX Coconut Blast SatisFast shake to have on hand.*

image-pgx-blog-point-20160502 Not Just for Athletes

Electrolyte drinks, powders and other products are not just designed for professional athletes, but for everyday gym-goers and people who live in a hot climate. In fact, electrolyte products are often used by firefighters tackling wildfires, as well as by anyone engaged in strenuous work, especially in the intense heat.

Staying properly hydrated and keeping our electrolyte levels balanced supports good health, but watch out for ready-made drinks that contain large amounts of sugar, as well as artificial sweeteners, flavorings, colors and preservatives. Instead, choose natural products such as coconut water to replace lost minerals as part of an overall balanced diet.

Anyone taking medications that affect levels of potassium, calcium or other electrolytes, or who has high blood pressure should check with their health care practitioner prior to using products containing electrolytes.

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Reference
Cuddy, J.S., Ham, J.A., Harger, S.G., et al., (2008). Effects of an Electrolyte Additive on Hydration and Drinking Behavior During Wildfire Suppression. WEM, 19:172-180.

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5 Healthy Appetizer Recipes

Healthy Appetizer Recipes

Appetizers are a key component to a social gathering! But they can also be a drag if you’re trying to maintain your healthy eating habits and everything getting passed around is deep-fried, cheese-filled or processed. Whether you’re hosting an event, or simply in need of providing a tasty tray for one, these 5 healthy appetizer recipes are ones you’ll want to make over and over again:

1. Pistachio Pesto Baked Mushrooms

To make the pesto, add the following to a food processor and mix until combined:

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup arugula
  • 1/4 cup pistachio nuts (raw, shelled, unsalted, or adjust salt)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Cut the stalks off two dozen cremini mushrooms and fill the centre of each with the pesto
  2. Place the mushrooms on a baking tray and drizzle a little olive oil over them
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and let cool slightly before serving, or serve cold

2. Baked Chickpea Fritters

An ideal finger food, chickpea fritters are easy to make, easy to store and easy to eat!

Recipe makes around 24 mini fritters

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1 cup chopped spinach (fresh)
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 2 chopped scallions
  1. Combine chickpea flour, salt, and cumin. Add the hot water, a little at a time util a thick paste forms
  2. Let mixture stand for around an hour
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  4. Add spinach, garlic, baking soda, cooked chickpeas and scallions to the batter
  5. Drop 1/4 cup amounts of batter onto a baking tray lined with parchment
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, flip, and bake for another ten minutes
  7. Serve with hot sauce or a creamy lemon cashew dipping sauce

3. White Bean and Parsley Dip With Pita Chips

Perhaps the simplest of healthy appetizers, this delightful dip is made by adding all the ingredients to a food processor and mixing until smooth (it’s also fine to leave it a little rustic):

  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the pita chips:

  1. Bake triangles of whole wheat pita bread on baking trays in the oven for 7-8 minutes at 400 degrees
  2. Consider tossing the pita triangles in a little oil, salt, pepper and mixed herbs before baking, for extra pizzazz!

4. Quinoa Tabbouleh

Popular as a healthy food, quinoa is packed with protein and can easily be substituted for the traditional bulgur wheat used when making tabbouleh.

Recipe makes around 24 small servings

  • 2 cups quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • The juice of a fresh lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup hemp oil (or 1/4 cup flax oil and 1/4 cup hemp oil for added omega-3)
  • 2 medium-sized English cucumbers (ridgeless), chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup curly kale, massaged and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint
  1. In a large bowl, mixx all the ingredients together.

5. Smoked Tofu, Avocado and Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade

This one is, admittedly, a little laborious, but it can be a fun activity to keep the kids occupied during party prep. The tapenade can also be made in advance.

  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 2 tbsps basil (dried)
  • 2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsps olive oil
  1. Begin by soaking a cup of sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 15 minutes
  2. Cut 1/4 inch slices of smoked tofu and similarly sized slices of avocado
  3. Drizzle a little fresh lemon juice over the avocado to avoid oxidation (browning) and cover with plastic wrap while you process the tapenade
  4. Drain the tomatoes, but reserve the soaking water
  5. Add the tomatoes to a food processor along with the Kalamata olives, basil, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil
  6. Create open-top sandwiches with a slice of smoked tofu on the bottom, a slice of avocado on top of that, and a little bit of sun-dried tomato tapenade to finish
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Post-Baby Exercise: Getting Started

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Easing back into exercising post-baby can be tough – you’re figuring out your new life, you’re likely sleep-deprived, and you’re taking care of a brand new, tiny human! – but I promise that getting your body moving again will feel great. Remember that your body is probably not going to move like it used to, so be patient with it, and prepare for your first post-baby exercise to be something easy and low-key. Before getting started, please ensure your doctor has cleared you for exercise.

Here are my suggestions for easing back into a post-baby exercise routine:

Start With Walking

Start your post-baby exercise journey with a low impact exercise like walking. Your body has been through a lot, and you want to make sure you go easy on yourself when you start working out again. Walk a mile and see how your body feels before continuing on.

When you give birth, your core and pelvic muscles can get compromised. Walking can help restore function to these muscles in a safe and practical way.

A great thing about walking is that you can take your baby with you – a nice stroller ride can soothe your child to sleep! It also gets you both out of the house for some fresh air and a change of scenery. Try making walking a part of your new, daily routine.

Exercise Videos

Getting out of the house for scheduled classes, or even impromptu drop-ins, is probably not likely during those first few months. Hello, exercise videos!

The great things about exercise videos are the variety of workouts you can do; yoga, pilates, zumba, there’s something for every interest and level. Because your core and abs will need a lot of work, focusing on low-impact workouts, including pilates and yoga, will be beneficial to your body.

I am a huge fan of exercising at home; there’s hassle-free parking, no line for the shower and you can fit it in when it works best for your schedule. Babies take awhile to settle into a schedule, so working out at home when the opportunity arises is a great option to have.

HIITM (High-Intensity Interval Training)

Moms don’t have a lot of time for themselves. When you’re feeling ready to  amp up your exercise output (and you have been cleared by your doctor), high-intensity interval training may be just the thing to satisfy your craving for a more intense workout.

High-Intensity Interval Training utilizes short, quick bursts of energy with short rests periods in between. Getting your heart pumping will burn calories. Even when you’re done with your workout, your body still burns calories, this is known as Excess Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC).

Here’s a 10 minute HIIT workout you can utilize:

  • 1 minute of jumping jacks | 30 seconds rest
  • 1 minute of push-ups | 30 seconds rest
  • 1 minute of jumps squats | 30 seconds rest
  • Rest 1 minute then start again

Join a Community

Having a good attitude about your body as you start your post-baby exercise journey is important. Find a support system to share stories, tips, and new mom experiences with. Mom fitness groups are all over the place! A quick search on-line can have you joining a like-minded, supportive community of Mom’s all working toward feeling healthy after pregnancy.

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