What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are the minerals in our bodies that aid in regulating and controlling the balance of fluids in the body. They play a vital role in regulating blood pressure, muscle contraction (including the heart!) and keeping the body systems functioning properly. The most important electrolytes are sodium, potassium and magnesium.
What is an electrolyte imbalance?
When your body is dehydrated, due to intense exercise, sweating or illness (vomiting or diarrhea) you can experience an acute electrolyte imbalance. You may even experience muscle cramps or spams and you'll feel all-around lousy. In cases of extreme imbalance, you can experience chest pains, or even experience a heart attack. Chronic dehydration results in dry lips and tongue, headaches, weakness, dizziness, nausea, altered kidney, liver, heart and digestive function. Electrolyte imbalance is no joke. But imbalances can swing either way, either too little electrolytes or too much. Overhydration can cause issues too. The biggest indicator of dehydration is thirst. By following your body's cues and drinking water when you feel thirsty, you can help manage your fluid levels.
If go hard at the gym or experience illness, you need to replenish your electrolytes. Electrolytes can be found in many foods such as:
Tips To Maintain Balance
By eating a balanced, healthy diet, you can maintain your electrolyte balance with relative ease. If you live in a food desert, you may need to find alternatives such as a supplement or by drinking sports drinks after working out or when ill. Drink plenty of water, but don't overconsume. Drinking excessive fluids can flush those electrolytes right out of your system! Avoid diuretics. Also avoid strenuous outdoor exercise at the hottest time of day, even if you don't live in a very hot climate.
Electrolytes play a key role in your health. By paying attention to your hydration levels, eating a healthy diet and monitoring your exercise habits, you can maintain equilibrium and remain active and health!
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