Has anyone (it could even have been Dr. Vinny) ever told you that you might need to replenish your electrolytes? Any child of the 70-90’s is probably familiar with sports drinks and might know that sports drinks have been marketed time and time again to help fuel your body and replenish electrolytes. But do you know what they even are?
I’m not joking when I told someone to consider increasing their electrolytes and they thought that meant that they needed more electricity in their nervous system. Sounds close enough, right? It’s understandable.
Electrolytes are minerals, which are essential to our bodies, that help maintain and regulate normal bodily functions. These are minerals like sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These minerals are vital to our bodies because they help us stay hydrated, control nervous system function, coordinate muscle contractions, as well as help us maintain proper pH (or balance of acidity and alkalinity). Needless to say, these minerals are pretty necessary for normal daily function as a human being.
In a healthy, diverse diet we should be able to get all of these minerals through whole food sources but it can be very easy to lose these minerals, especially if we’re not consuming enough water – this gives me a nice way to shamelessly plug Water Cooler Wednesday’s with Dr. Allison over on our Instagram.
I’ll never forget one summer when I dyed my hair electric blue and then went to roller hockey practice on a particularly hot Illinois summer day. As it got hotter and hotter in the industrial building where our rink was, I began to sweat blue all over the rink like I was in one of those fancy Gatorade commercials.
In that specific example, I was just leaching dye from my hair but the fancy sports drink commercials of the 00’s did have it right that we can lose electrolytes through sweat. But that’s not the only reason why you may be losing electrolytes and need to replenish them.
Some other reasons include losing bodily fluids like urinating, vomiting, or having diarrhea – this is why I tell many of my patients with GI issues that electrolytes might need to be reintroduced from supplemental sources – this can be through powders, tabs, coconut water, cactus water, etc. There are a couple of other things that some of us do on a daily basis that can also deplete your body of those vital minerals. The two biggest electrolyte depletors are drinking the magical black bean, coffee, as well as consuming alcohol.
Here are some surefire signs that your body might need to re-up on your electrolytes: feeling fatigued, headaches, nausea, blood pressure changes (this could be high or low), muscle cramps, low energy, and simply not feeling well.
Please reply back if you found this blog helpful! If it wasn’t helpful for you because you already crush electrolytes on the regs, please forward this to someone who could benefit.