Electrolytes: An Unsung Hero
Electrolytes are ions that are contain both a negative and positive charge. These little minerals are an essential part of every function of your body. Electrolytes play a vital part of maintaining homeostasis within the body. They assist in the regulation of the heart, muscle contraction, brain function, kidney function, fluid balance, oxygen delivery and a whole lot more.
The minerals that compose electrolyte balance are sodium, magnesium, chloride, potassium and sugar (glucose). Because electrolytes are ions (charged particles), they utilized by the cells to send signals (electrical voltages) across the cell membranes to communicate with other cells.
One of the major functions of electrolytes is the sodium component. Drinking too much water can flood the cells. There have been actual cases of people dying of hyperontremia (water intoxication)…actual medical term. If a person drinks nothing but water (without electrolytes), they can flush the body clean of essential nutrients. When you have a great work out, you sweat. Your sweat is salty, meaning that your body is losing sodium.
Utilizing electrolytes should be a key component for anybody that works out for two reasons. One, as stated in the paragraph above. Reason two: you shorten your recovery time. Ah, the world of lactic acid… you know that sore feeling that you get when you use your muscles. When you exercise your muscles contract, squeezing lactic acid out of your muscles. Think of a wet towel (those are your muscles), when you ring out the water, the towel becomes dry. Your poor biceps are literally dehydrated after all those hammer curls. Drinking electrolytes rehydrates muscles!
Also think about the role of salt in your diet. You eat that bag of salty popcorn at the movies, and immediately you become thirsty. It is the sodium that is able to pump excessive water out of the cells. Too much water elimination, good old H2O is needed to flush it out. Too much water- sodium intake is able to dry it.
Dehydration of course is one of the main reasons to use electrolytes. But what causes dehydration and what can happen without proper hydration?
If you are living in a hot climate, you are dehydrated. Everyone that lives in a hot climate should be taking electrolytes multiple times, daily. During the spring and summer, you will benefit in increasing your intake.
People that suffer from frequent headaches several times a week or even daily should try using electrolytes. 75% of all headache suffers have an electrolyte imbalance. This can be corrected easily but adding electrolytes to your water. A difference can be felt literally in a day of high doses.
Electrolytes are an important essential to the aging process. Our bodies lose fluids as we age. This manifests as dry skin, wrinkles, dry mouth, unquenchable thirst, dark veins under the skin, menopause and so on. Think of a raisin that once was a juicy grape.
Extreme Thirst/ Urination
If you are pounding fluids and have excessive thirst that is not being quenched, then you are dehydrated. If you are experiencing dark, concentrated urination, your kidneys are filtering out toxins while your body is holding on to fluids. This is a very obvious sign of dehydration.
As with any chronic and serious disease, the body can recover slower due to harsh treatments such as radiation and/or chemotherapy. During these types of treatments, those cells undergo free radical damage, meaning that healthy cells become harmed. If the cells are already dehydrated, then potentially more damage to more cells can occur (similar to a fire in a dry environment). Not only will electrolytes help the cells stay “fluid” but it can limit the chance of healthy cells becoming damaged through these types of treatments.
Bottom line, electrolytes are essential to the body, are inexpensive, slow down the aging process and help create balance within the system. I cannot recommend them enough.