When it comes to health and fitness, electrolytes are overlooked although they play a major role with balancing the amount of water and acid/base 9(pH) level in your body. We'll dive in deeper to what that means:
What are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are electrically-charged molecules (ions) that release either a positive or negative electric charge when they dissolve in fluid. This allows them to conduct electricity and move electrical charges or signals throughout the body. These charges are involved with brain and nerve function, muscle contraction, and the creation of new tissue.
Sodium, Chloride, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, and Phosphate are some of the several electrolyte essentials which aid in optimal health and especially athletic performance. The first three mentioned often get the most attention when it comes to electrolyte replenishment.
What Do Electrolytes Do?
- Regulate the fluid levels in your blood plasma and your body.
- Keep the pH (acid/alkaline) of your blood in the normal range (7.35-7.45, slightly alkaline).
- Enable muscle contractions, including the beating of your heart.
- Transmit nerve signals from heart, muscle and nerve cells to other cells.
- Help blood to clot.
- Help build new tissue.
What Causes an Electrolyte Imbalance?
- Losing fluids as a result of persistent vomiting or diarrhea, sweating or fever.
- Not drinking or eating enough.
- Chronic respiratory problems, such as emphysema.
- Higher-than-normal blood pH (a condition called metabolic alkalosis).
- Medications such as steroids, diuretics and laxatives.
In order to sustain adequate levels of each mineral within the body, we should of course start with eating a balanced diet. Some foods that are high in electrolytes include:
- dark leafy vegetables.
- chia seeds.
For most people, it's not likely that you'll get enough electrolytes from your diet with the exception of sodium. However, you should still be conscious of not consuming too much of any mineral as that too will cause disturbance and have it's own consequences. The CDC recommends consuming no more than 2300 mg/day. For many, sodium intake primarily comes from processed and restaurant foods. We can also look up the nutrients for each of these minerals to ensure how much to take in to meet our daily requirements.
Moving on to fluid intake: be sure to drink enough water throughout the day and especially during times when you've lost a lot of water (sweating outdoors, working out, sauna, etc.)
Some people also supplement with BCAA's (Branched Chained Amino Acids) so replenish lost electrolytes during workouts. Click here to shop what product I'm currently using from Women's Best.
The main takeaway:
-Consume more of the items listed above
-Be conscious of losing water and restoring your electrolytes
Hope you found this helpful!