You’ve undoubtedly seen many references to electrolytes before – mostly in marketing materials for products. Perhaps you’ve seen them listed on a label or advertisement for a sports “replenishing” type of drink or even on certain waters that have been enhanced with this important component of hydration.
But electrolytes are not an optional nutrient which we can supplement with – they are vital to our very survival. So, what are they exactly, and why does our body need them?
Electrolytes are electrically charged ions that are comprised of mineral salts. They are an absolute necessity to maintain and carry on the functions of the human body. Their presence allows our nervous system, our heart and other important muscles, and the entire intricate communication network in our body, to function properly.
When we are deprived of electrolytes, our muscles do not have the ability to properly contract and relax (you can get muscle cramps), and you may even experience heart beat interruptions and irregularities. These tiny electrically charged ions are the conductors of the intricate electrical rhythms that keep our heart beating, our muscles functioning as they should, and our nerves communicating with the various areas of the body they control.
How electrolytes can be depleted and restored
Profuse sweating, whether from exercise or physical exertion, or from simply being in searing temperatures for extended periods of time, is one of the ways we can become quickly depleted of electrolytes. Along with this depletion comes faster dehydration since electrolytes allow our body to become more quickly hydrated.
Vomiting or diarrhea also can cause electrolyte imbalances and depletion. Often a feeling of weakness and exhaustion accompanies dramatically lowered levels of electrolytes. This is your body telling you that you need to replenish them as quickly as possible.
Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause electrolyte levels to lower in the body. This is due to the hindrance of our anti-diuretic hormones which become impaired when we consume alcohol. Excessive urination depletes the body of hydrating water and electrolytes right along with it, to quickly for them to be adequately replaced.
Fresh squeezed lemon or citrus juice
Citrus juices, especially the juice of a lemon, are rich in naturally occurring electrolytes. The contain one of the most important electrolyte salts, potassium. You may know a little about this electrolyte since it is probably the most commonly known of them all, and it is a well known fact that potassium depletion causes muscle cramping.
Keeping oranges on hand is a great idea as they are one of the most electrolyte-rich citrus fruits available. Simply eating the whole fruit is a great way to replenish any depleted electrolyte minerals.
Lemon juice is simply one of the more convenient since you can order lemon slices at any restaurant in your water, and get a nice little electrolyte boost that way. Lemon water is also alkalizing, so it helps neutralize foods that turn to acid in the body.
Coconut water is another excellent drink that is an alternative to the sugary, chemical-filled electrolyte-enhanced sports drinks out there. You may have seen this trendy drink in the hands of famous actors and actresses on their way in to or out of the gym.
That’s because it’s an excellent way to not only get natural sugars in the body but also to replenish the important electrolytes that can be lost during a vigorous workout. Coconut water contains high levels of potassium and also contains some sodium electrolytes. It is low in calories and a lot of people enjoy the fresh taste.
Pure, filtered water that is enhanced with additional minerals is a great way to get your daily dose of electrolytes as well. If you don’t want the extra flavors or calories in sports drinks or the above mentioned options, just drinking pure water that has been enhanced is also a great option.
Electrolyte-enhanced water tends to have a “wetter” feel on the tongue and a fuller and more satisfying presence than normal water. Plus it’s often filtered of impurities so you’re not getting the chlorine and all the other chemicals that you would get with normal tap water.
Danna Norek founded AuraSensory.com. The Aura Sensory online store offers a very effective newly formulated Aluminum Free Deodorant, popular sulfate free haircare products, deeply hydrating body and facial skin care, and more without all the chemicals.
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