What’s the first thing comes to your mind when you think of the word “electrolytes”? Something electric? Well, true, Electrolytes get electrically charged when dissolved with liquids. These are Minerals which are responsible for many bodily functions. Electrolytes generally include Calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, phosphate and bicarbonate.
I call electrolytes guardians because they are essential for many functions happening in our body(which we don’t even realise). These functions include:
- Moving nutrients into the cell and removing waste from it.
- Balancing the pH level of the body(acid and base level).
- Allowing nerves to send signals.
- Allowing muscles to contract and relax.
- Keeping the function of the brain and heart in check.
But What causes a decrease in levels of electrolytes in our body?
Well, there are plenty reasons of how we can become low on electrolytes. Such as High-intensity workouts, where we lose a considerable amount of sweat(sodium), and other activities like running, cycling or any sports, that may cause excessive sweating(right now I won’t be discussing ways to burn sweat). Prolonged heat exposure like working at a hot temperature may also cause the loss of electrolytes. Other reasons include diarrhoea, and puking, which may result in a significant amount of loss in electrolytes. Also not eating a healthy diet(rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium etc.) or not drinking sufficient fluids may also cause Electrolytes imbalance
What happens when you are low on electrolytes?
As I mentioned above, electrolytes are responsible for various functions in our body, Deficiency or electrolytes imbalance may cause several severe issues in the body, such as:
- Twitching and muscle spasms, also known as charley horse ( due to low potassium or magnesium level).
- Fluctuating blood pressure.
- Irregular heartbeats.
How can you get electrolytes naturally?
There are many sources to get back those missing electrolytes. Fruits such as apricots are rich in magnesium, calcium and potassium(it also has other nutrients), other fruits like banana, apple, grapes, cherries, lychee, kiwi, oranges, pear, peach, pineapple and many such fruits are rich in potassium and magnesium. Also, vegetables like Broccoli, spinach ( remember how strong popeye is?), cabbage and other green leafy vegetables will provide you required minerals. Try drinking fruit juice(or mixed fruit juice) or coconut water after a workout to replenish electrolytes.
Milk, curd and yoghurts are rich in calcium, they can also nourish you with your missing electrolytes. But, if you are lactose intolerant or vegan, you can consider getting minerals from whole grains. Nuts are another great source.
Dark chocolates surprisingly contain magnesium, so if you want to munch on something sweet, you can go for dark chocolate. It’s been found that regular eating of dark chocolates may prevent muscle spasms.
Oral rehydration solution(ORS) is used in diarrhoea and vomiting to replace the lost electrolytes. There are also hydrating powders(electrolyte powder) available in the market, that are tasty and can be used with water. Some experts suggest water is sufficient to make up for the loss of electrolytes, but a majority of us are drinking R.O water(reverse osmosis) these days, that demineralizes the water and hence many essential nutrients and minerals are lost in the procedure. So even if you are drinking R.O water it’s surely hydrating you but not sufficiently mineralizing you.
You might have also seen sportspersons drinking some neon coloured liquid, that’s a sports drink, it helps them to revitalise. Those drinks are not necessarily bad, as some experts suggest but are suggested after intense physical activity. Drinking that regularly may harm you due to added sugar and artificial flavours. You can have a sports drink, but only after extreme sweat loss and if suggested by doctors.
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In the end
Now, as you have read this article first thing I would suggest you, is to get your Blood and Urine tested, so that you can know if you are deficient on any minerals. Even if you are deficient, you need not to panic and can try the above mentioned things to regain your electrolytes. But, don’t ignore any signal your body is giving you as timely treatment can help you live healthy.
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Until next time, remember to smile and stay hydrated.