Electrolyte imbalances aren’t new to a lot of people. If you have intensely worked out or have done a physical activity in such a way that you started to feel dizziness, muscle spasms, headaches, or possibly nausea or vomiting even, then you might have an electrolyte imbalance.
But don’t get scared, because electrolyte imbalances usually occur after we’ve sweat for more than 90 minutes. Which causes our bodies to lose water and electrolytes such as potassium, chloride, and sodium. The best way to balance your electrolytes again is to stay hydrated and use electrolyte replacements. It’s nothing permanent or anything like hormonal imbalances.
At some point in time, I’ve overworked myself and I felt my knees buckle up during a hike. Maybe it was because the trail was just harder than I thought… Or maybe it was just too warm outside and the sun made me sweat twice as much. But that was all before when I didn’t know that I wasn’t just supposed to hydrate, but to also keep the balance of my electrolytes. I thought I was just out of focus or that maybe I wasn’t working out hard enough for the past few weeks and that I wasn’t in the right shape. Turns out, it’s the electrolytes.
It doesn’t seem too important, right? It’s just dizziness and nothing too fatal. But the thing is, electrolytes play a bigger role in our body. It’s not all about just trying to balance your electrolytes by staying hydrated and drinking electrolyte replacements. Electrolytes help balance the fluid levels that are associated with the sharpness of your mind, proper muscle contraction, and healthy heart function. Which is why being low on electrolytes causes the opposite effects.
You can find these micronutrients in sports drinks, sports gels and different types of food. If you want to explore different kinds of electrolyte food resources, below are some of the few:
Whenever I would have a tiring day, I would always make sure that I have bananas as a part of my breakfast. Whether it’s in a smoothie or just slices of it in my oatmeal. Bananas are rich in potassium, magnesium, phytosterols and vitamin B6. A medium sized banana also has about 1.2 milligrams of sodium and 5.9 milligrams of calcium which is a good start for a strenuous and busy day.
Dried apricots are amazing. Not only that they taste good but it has about 814 milligrams of potassium. You can add grass-fed jerky and get additional sodium and chloride on the side. After a very tiring physical activity that requires sweating, you can always pack a few dried apricots inside your bag along with your sports drink and you’ll have well-balanced electrolytes.
Did you know that a cup of a baked potato can contain about 1,000 milligrams of potassium compared to 500 milligrams found in sweet potatoes? If you combine this with Himalayan salt, you can have an extra dose of sodium and chloride.
Coconut water is a potassium-rich drink. However, it does not contain sodium so adding Himalayan salt is a good idea if you’re trying to use it as an electrolyte balancer.
Ever wondered why your sweat tastes salty? It’s because sweat consists of more sodium than potassium. So sweating a lot can cause a loss of sodium in our bodies.
Cucumbers are 95% water, but it has a good amount of B1, B5, and B7 and also magnesium and calcium. Not to mention, potassium and apigenin which results in a cooling and anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Cucumbers also have a flavonol called fisetin which can protect brain cells. This magical vegetable has about 4 milligrams of sodium, 273 milligrams of potassium, 24.1 milligrams of magnesium, and 28.1 milligrams of calcium.
Feel free to workout or do physical activities with a cucumber water on the side, in which you can also eat the leftover cucumber slices after gulping down all the water.
Now, you might be wondering why keeping your electrolytes stable can’t be just cured by water. To better understand the 3 main electrolytes and its functions, here’s a short explanation.
Sodium contributes to the regulation of our blood volume, pH, blood pressure, and maintenance of water balance in the body. It is almost too rare for us to be having sodium deficiency, given the excess sodium content of processed foods that’s in an average American diet. However, you can still be at risk for low levels of sodium after a prolonged exercise.
Be wary of this because this happens when people overhydrate without the proper electrolyte replacement, which can lead to nausea, vomiting, headaches and even seizures. This means that drinking water may not be enough for your body to replenish electrolytes because water does not necessarily contain the 3 major electrolytes (Sodium, potassium, and chloride.)
This electrolyte promotes proper nerve transmission, glucose metabolism, and muscle contractions. Potassium works with sodium in order to maintain a balance in our body since it controls the amount of fluid that’s inside our cells while sodium balances outside the cells.
A diet that’s rich in potassium can soften the effects of a high-sodium diet by lowering our blood pressure. Potassium deficiencies can increase a person’s risk of cardiac arrhythmias, glucose intolerance, and muscle weakness.
Chloride is made up of 60% of table salt to sodium’s 40%. Some of its important functions include control of blood pressure levels, electrolyte and fluid balance, and regulating the pH balance of our blood.
Whenever you would commit yourself to strenuous physical activities, make sure that you load your body with enough electrolytes along with proper hydration (but not excessive).