Benefits of Electrolytes
When most of us hear the word “electrolytes” we think of sports drinks like Gatorade. But there is a wide variety of sources of electrolytes that don’t contain artificial dyes or refined sugar. Electrolytes play an important role in certain circumstance and are sometimes required in order to properly rehydrate.
However, the benefits of plain water should not be underestimated. Hydration starts with making sure we are taking in enough water from food and beverages to replace what is lost naturally as well as extra water loss that occurs through intense exercise and/or illness.
Did you know that approximately 2 quarts of water lost naturally each day? This water is lost via different body organs/elimination process, including breathing!
There are many factors that play a role in determining how much water you need to consume on a particular day.
Factors That Affect Hydration Status:
- Body Size
- Activity Level
- Climate (Humidity)
- Temperature of Environment
- Diet (Fresh Fruits and Veggies Vs Meat and Fat)
- Caffeine and Alcohol Consumption (Including Tea, Pop)
Poor Hydration Has Many Negative Consequences on the Body Including:
- Excess Body Fat
- Poor Muscle Tone
- Digestive Problems
- Joint and Muscle Soreness
- Poor Functioning or Organs- Including the Brain
- Water Retention
It is important to be mindful of your diet, environment and exercise each day and adjust how much water you are consuming accordingly. One of the easiest and most effective ways of evaluating your hydration status is to monitor your urine colour and output. Very pale or pale yellow indicates you are within 1% of optimal hydration.
What Are Electrolytes:
Electrolytes are mineral salts dissolved into the body’s fluids. The main electrolytes include sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. They help regulate the fluid balance in the body, regulate blood pressure and blood pH.
Electrolytes are critical for nerve and muscle function. Electrolytes in the body are regulated by hormones, with the kidneys flushing out excess levels.
Electrolytes can be flushed from your body in a variety of ways:
- Excessive Sweating
- Certain Medications
- Drinking Too Much Water
- Kidney Disease, Alcoholism, and Eating Disorders Deplete Electrolytes
When to Replace Electrolytes:
There are situations where drinking plain water is not enough to rehydrate. There is also a potential to over-hydrated drinking plain water this is known medically as Hyponatraemia.
Replenishing with electrolytes can help avoid hyponatraemia. You can avoid this condition by drinking no more than 400-800ml of water per hour (even during exercise).
Most people think to replenish with electrolytes post exercise. But there are other situations where it is important to replenish with electrolytes outside of exercise:
- Sauna Use
- Anorexia/ Bulimia
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Severe electrolyte imbalances can cause serious problems such as coma, seizures, and cardiac arrest. Electrolytes may need to be given through IV in acute situations.
Sources of Electrolytes:
There are a variety of options when it comes to adding electrolytes to your diet. There are powdered forms that don’t contain artificial dyes or refined sugar, some come in unflavoured drops. Coconut water is a great source of the electrolyte potassium but you want to make sure you are replacing more than one electrolyte. Here is a balance recipe you can make yourself:
Here is an easy lemon-lime sports drink recipe to try at home:
Yield: 4 cups (946 ml)
Serving size: 1 cup (237 ml)
- 1/4 Tsp of Salt
- 1/4 Cup (60 Ml) of Lemon Juice
- 1/4 Cup (60 Ml) of Lime Juice
- 1 1/2 Cups (360 Ml) of Unsweetened Coconut Water
- 2 Cups (480 Ml) of Cold Water
Staying properly hydrated is one of the most important things we can do for our health! Drinking pure filtered water is essential to our daily maintenance; electrolytes are an important addition during times of intense exercise and illness.
Staying Healthy with Nutrition Elson M. Haas MD 2006
The Complete Guide to sports Nutrition Anita Bean 7th Edition 2013 h