Electrolytes are mineral compounds that become electrically charged particles when dissolved in water. They help keep our body in balance and are vital for keeping blood pressure under control, providing healthy muscle function and maintaining proper hydration. They are also used to send messages from the brain to other parts of the body. Our bodies can become depleted of these electrolytes from excessive sweating or from certain illnesses. When this happens it is important that we replenish our bodies with the important electrolytes that may have been lost.
There are many signs that warn us when essential electrolytes in our body may be out of balance. Some of these signs include an irregular heartbeat, weakness, confusion, nervous system disorders, blood pressure changes, numbness and muscle spasms. Experts say that ninety percent of Americans are deficient in the minerals that are found in electrolytes. When the body attempts to correct this imbalance, we can expect to experience some of the symptoms above. An imbalance of electrolytes can occur from one or more of the following:
Electrolytes play a vital role in keeping our bodies hydrated. Dehydration can happen long before you begin to feel thirsty. When you are involved in any strenuous activity electrolytes are depleted through primarily sweat and urine. When this happens, cells in your body start to break down. Your reaction time becomes much slower, and you begin to feel weak and sluggish. By the time you experience any of these symptoms your body may already be dehydrated. This is why it is so important to prevent dehydration and loss of electrolytes before this imbalance occurs. Water is the best fluid for rehydration. However, if you add electrolytes you will recover faster.
Electrolytes come in many different forms including potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate and sodium. Depleted electrolytes can be replenished simply be eating certain foods that contain these electrolytes. Some foods that contain electrolytes are nuts, fruits and vegetables. A lot of foods that are grown in the ground are good sources for electrolytes. Sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade are also good sources. The body requires a certain amount of electrolytes daily. Adding electrolytes in your daily diet has several healthy benefits. The following are just a few of the many benefits of taking electrolytes:
- Supports muscle recovery after a workout
- Boosts performance and enhances endurance before a run, hike or workout
- Hydrates cells and prevents muscle cramps
- Restores balance in your body
- Prevents dehydration
Electrolytes are necessary in order to keep a healthy balance in the body. If you work out and sweat a lot, sports drinks are a good choice for replenishing your body with the electrolytes you may have lost. It is important to remember that hydrating and supplying your body with these sources before strenuous events will prevent electrolyte imbalance. If you know you are going on a long run or a hike, make sure you drink plenty of liquids that contain electrolytes so that you can prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalance before it happens.