Have you heard about electrolytes before now, but do you actually know what they are? No, this isn’t some pseudoscience nonsense. These minerals are crucial to your body’s health, and so it’s worth learning about them. Here’s what you need to know.
What are Electrolytes?
Let’s get down to the crux of it. What are electrolytes? Put simply, this is the collective name given to particles that carry electric currents around the body. The main electrolytes are sodium, potassium and chloride — you may have already heard about them in passing. So, why do they matter and what’s all the hype?
The electrolytes can be found in the fluids in your body and play a vital role when it comes to keeping you fit and healthy. For that reason, you need to make sure that you keep your electrolyte levels balanced at all times. Doing so will help you take care of your wellness and make sure that your body has what it needs when you’re training. Simple.
So, What Do Electrolytes Do?
Now that you know what electrolytes are, let’s take a moment to consider what they do. As we have already mentioned, these particles can help to keep you healthy. There are many ways in which the electrolytes do this. Here are some examples of why we need them.
Keep Us Hydrated
Hydration is crucial to your health and fitness. Of course, after you exercise, you need to make sure that you drink enough water. However, electrolytes also play a role here. These particles, particularly sodium, help to balance the body’s fluids. That means that they stop the body from retaining too much liquid or becoming dehydrated.
When you’re training hard, you need to make sure that your muscles perform well. While giving yourself time for proper recovery is one piece of the puzzle here, electrolytes also help to support your muscle function. Calcium, one of the main particles, is needed from proper muscle contraction. The electrolyte supports the movement of the muscle groups by helping the fibres to seamlessly slide together as they contract.
Help the Nervous System
Your nervous system is a collection of cells and nerves that carries messages from your brain to the rest of your body. The electrolyte sodium is a fundamental part of this system since it moves across the nerve cell membrane, creating those signals. With that in mind, it’s important to keep your sodium levels balanced so your nervous system can function.
Why Do Electrolyte Levels Decrease?
One of the biggest questions people have is: when do your electrolyte levels decrease? There are many reasons that you could have low levels of these particles in your bodily fluids. Needless to say, some of these cases are more dangerous than others.
In the most extreme circumstances — when you’re sick or have diarrhea — your electrolyte levels can go down. You may need to have fluid therapy to make sure that your levels return to normal. A medical professional will assess the situation and help you.
However, when you’re exercising and sweat a lot, your electrolyte levels will dip. The reason is that you literally sweat out these particles, which means that they are lost from the body for good. When that happens, it could be worth trying to replenish your levels.
How Can You Replenish Your Electrolytes?
The truth of the matter is that — when you follow a balanced diet — you should have a stable level of electrolytes. Ensuring that you eat well is the first step when it comes to keeping yourself as healthy as possible. Sources of sodium include salt and pickled food, for example. You can get magnesium from nuts and seeds, and calcium is found in many dairy products. That means that you usually won’t need to replenish your electrolytes.
However, if you’ve been working out and sweating a great deal, it could be beneficial to your health and fitness. There have been studies to back up this theory. Research published in the US National Library of Medicine suggests that increasing your sodium intake after sweating can help boost your physical performance. Drinking an electrolyte beverage after you work out or eating a high-sodium snack may be a smart move.
Of course, it’s always a wise move to speak to your doctor if you have any concerns, whether that’s about your general health or electrolytes. They will be able to give you guidance on how you can tailor your diet so that you get the right level of nutrition.
Electrolytes are absolutely essential particles in your body. Keeping your levels balanced is important and can usually be achieved through eating a balanced diet. When you sweat excessively, though, you could find that your electrolyte levels deplete. In that case, it could be helpful to replenish them through food or drink. As always, you should speak to your doctor before making any decisions about your everyday diet.