The Importance Of Staying Hydrated In Relation To Electrolytes
The human body is comprised of 11 major elements that are essential for survival: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, chlorine, nitrogen, sulfur, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and magnesium. Of these 11, seven make up the very essential chemical compounds called electrolytes. These are sodium, calcium, bicarbonate, chloride, magnesium, potassium, and phosphate. Apart from food, oxygen, and water, the human body cannot function without these. Electrolytes are minerals which dissolve in water to produce electric charges used in all metabolic processes. And just like there is a specific amount of water you need to drink to be healthy, your body needs a specific level of electrolytes to function properly.
Electrolyte Advantages for the Body
Electrolytes play very major roles in the body. First and foremost, they are essential for the functioning of various metabolic processes which need small currents to function. The brain, for example, sends signals to other body parts through the nervous system, a process that relies on the movement if electrolytes. Secondly, chloride, bicarbonate, sodium, and potassium, also known as the blood electrolytes regulate the functioning of nerves and muscles. The latter two with the addition of calcium are responsible for muscle contraction. Blood electrolytes also help maintain the blood’s acid-base levels at 7.35 to 7.45 pH. Thirdly, electrolytes are necessary to maintain normal fluid levels. Perfect sodium levels prevent body cells from shriveling or bursting through the process of osmosis. Electrolytes are necessary in every metabolic process that takes place in the body and this is why maintaining the right levels is very important. Essentially, for one’s body to function normally, the minimum recommended dietary intakes of major electrolytes are 310 mg of Magnesium, 1000 mg of Calcium, 4700 mg of potassium and 1.25 g of sodium.
The Causes and Effects of Electrolyte Imbalance
Electrolyte imbalance is very dangerous as it inhibits the body’s metabolic processes. The first major cause of electrolyte imbalance is dehydration. This can be through diarrhea, vomiting or sweating. The second is poor diet. If you do not take a balanced diet, your body will lack certain minerals. Certain diets like ketogenic diets, while generally healthy and instrumental in weight loss, cause electrolyte imbalances. Keto diets feature zero carbs. Low carbohydrate levels mean less insulin and depletion of stored glycogen. Glycogen is stored with water which is excreted if glycogen stores are depleted. This excretion process gets rid of electrolytes especially sodium. Kidney disease can also cause imbalances as kidneys are responsible for regulation electrolyte concentration. Bulimia, diuretics, cancer treatment, and laxatives are other factors that contribute to an electrolyte imbalance which manifests in the form of weakness, lethargy, nausea, muscle spasms, convulsions, twitching, bone disorders, and irregular heartbeats.
Maintaining Healthy Electrolyte Levels
Hydration is one of the best ways of ensuring electrolyte balance. Carry around a stylish yet functional matt brushed or mirror finished steel Jerry water bottle to help replenish any water you might lose through sweating or other body processes. Water in the body means the body will absorb back sodium among other electrolytes during excretion. Eat a proper diet or use keto electrolyte supplements if on a ketogenic diet. Alternatively, you can eat green leafy vegetables, almonds, pumpkin, hemp, bouillon, and broth. Avoid abusing laxatives and diuretics and seek medical attention in severe cases. Drinking 2.6 g of sodium, 2.9 g of sodium citrate and 1.5g of potassium dissolved in a litre of water should also do the trick.
Maintaining electrolytes at recommended levels is vital for muscle and nerve function, balancing internal pH and for overall health. Seeing how important these minerals are and how big a role hydration plays in balancing them, drinking the recommended amount of water daily and eating foods rich in electrolytes should be top priorities.
By Jess Walters