You might have noticed that working out or sweating excessively may leave you feeling tired and dehydrated, and that’s normal, but when you feel like this even when you drink plenty of water, that’s not a good sign.
This is because sweat isn’t just made of water, it also contains electrolytes like sodium. Since plain water doesn’t actually contain electrolytes, you have to replenish your body by consuming certain foods, juices, or supplements.
What are electrolytes?
The electrolytes, as well as nutrients, have high importance for our body, from regulating your heartbeat to allowing your muscles to contract so you can move.
Most of the electrolytes in our body are potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate. They help in stimulating the nerves through the body, balancing fluid levels. If there is an imbalance of the electrolytes, then it may lead to different health conditions while some potentially deadly.
Major roles of electrolytes:
– Calcium – it is important for tooth and bone density, and also helps with contraction of muscles, nerve signaling and blood clotting. – Chloride – helps with balances the pH in your blood, it’s essential to digestion and maintains the balance of fluids. – Sodium – maintains fluid balance, helps with nerve signaling, helps balance other electrolytes and helps with muscle contractions. – Potassium – regulates blood pressure, heart contractions, help with the function of muscles. Potassium imbalance can lead to potential fatal arrhythmia.
– Magnesium – necessary for DNA and RNA production, helping for muscle contraction, proper heart rhythm, bone strength and building, nerve functioning, reducing anxiety, digestion, and keeping a stable balance of the protein fluid.
You may don’t know this, but electrolytes play a role in chemical exchanges, conduct electricity and move electrical charges or signals throughout your body. And so, electrolytes are essential to proper nerve function.
They’re also directly linked to water balance. As an example, when your sodium levels get too high, your body signals thirst and your kidneys expel less liquid to direct water back into your blood to dilute the sodium. On the other hand, when sodium levels get too low, your kidneys excrete more water.
Causes and signs of electrolyte imbalance
Electrolytes can be found in all body fluids like blood, sweat, and urine. They have an electric charge, separating positively and negatively charged ions when dissolved in water. The nerves signal other nerves through chemical exchanges dependent on oppositely charged ions, inside and outside the cells.
Other causes include liver cirrhosis, alcoholism, diabetes, kidney disease, heart failure, poor diet, severe burns, and some cancer forms.
Symptoms of imbalance include:
-Nausea -Lethargy -Fluid retention -Confusion or sudden change in behavior -Severe muscle weakness -Rapid or irregular heartbeat -Seizures -Chest pain
These symptoms appear then your electrolytes are either above or under these guidelines:
Calcium: 5–5.5 mEq/L Chloride: 97–107 mEq/L Potassium: 5–5.3 mEq/L Magnesium: 1.5-2.5 mEq/L
Sodium: 136–145 mEq/L
How to maintain healthy electrolyte balance
The best thing you can do for yourself is to avoid junk food, and thus to get all the nutrients you need. Eating a balanced diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbs will give you all the nutrients you need to keep your body in balance.
2. Hold the salt
Check the sodium levels when consuming packaged or processed foods, because they contain very high levels of salt. Sources of sodium include soda, highly processed desserts, sauces, and salad dressing. If you cook all your own food, consider replacing table salt with Himalayan salt, which is chock-full of important minerals.
3. Drink water
Water may not contain electrolytes, it also plays a role in fluid balance and hydration. Water also makes it easier for your body to reestablish homeostasis when your electrolyte levels are too high.
4. Consider your medication
It is important to talk to your doctor if you have symptoms like those we mentioned above. Perhaps is time to change your prescription, adjusting your diet or taking supplements to compensate and establish proper electrolyte levels.
5. Take an Epsom salt bath
Stress can cause many bad things to your body, that’s why high levels of stress can deplete your body of magnesium. If you experience muscle cramps, trouble sleeping, and anxiety, you should consider taking an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salt is a rich source of magnesium. Your body actually absorbs magnesium better through its skin than through its digestive system.
6. Refuel after exercise
If you want to replenish your levels, after workout drinks coconut water or take an electrolyte-infused smoothie. This will help you avoid muscle fatigue or weakness and promote post-exercise recovery.