The Benefits of Electrolytes

benefits of electrolytes
Did you know electrolytes are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle? Read on to learn about their benefits and how to replace them.

Do you have nagging symptoms but can’t put your finger on why? Electrolyte imbalance may be to blame. Symptoms can range from:

  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramping or weakness
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Poor exercise performance

I’m sure you’ve heard of electrolytes before – probably in relation to staying hydrated or recovering after physical activity. But did you know electrolytes can help you stay healthy in your daily life and can even be beneficial for specific diets like keto? While there are a variety of electrolytes, the main ones we’ll focus on are sodium, chloride, and potassium. Let’s dive in and learn about electrolytes, the benefits of electrolytes, and how to replace them.

What are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals that conduct electrical charges throughout the body. This allows our cells to communicate and supports movement, cardiovascular health, and more. Electrolytes should be present in certain concentrations to maintain normal body functions. When the levels are either too high or too low, this is electrolyte imbalance. This happens when the amount of water in your body changes.

There are a variety of electrolytes in your body, including:

  • Sodium
  • Chloride
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium 
  • Phosphate

The main 3 electrolytes we’ll focus on are sodium, chloride, and potassium.

Sodium is an essential electrolyte that regulates nerve function and muscle contraction, including your heart. Without enough sodium, you can start having a variety of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, confusion, irregular heartbeats, low blood pressure, and loss of energy. Chloride, on the other hand, works to maintain fluid balance within the body (including your main digestive fluid, HCL), but also plays a role in regulating blood pressure, as does sodium. Potassium is another essential electrolyte that helps regulate your heart rhythm, maintain healthy nerves, and support the muscles. Each electrolyte has a different, but important role in the body. When they are in balance, the body is able to do its job efficiently. But when they’re out of balance, problems can arise.

What Causes Electrolyte Imbalance? 

When the electrolyte levels in your body are too high or too low, this throws your body off balance. This is commonly caused by a change in body fluids from prolonged vomiting, sweating, or diarrhea but can also be a result of certain medications, liver or kidney problems, or not eating or drinking enough. 

For example, having too much sodium can be a result of severe dehydration, excessive fluid loss from prolonged vomiting, sweating, or diarrhea, or certain medications such as corticosteroids, and some medical conditions. Too little sodium is generally caused by poor nutrition, overhydration, thyroid or kidney problems, alcohol use disorder, or certain medications such as anti-seizure medications or diuretics. While imbalance can occur from a variety of causes, it’s important to focus on getting electrolytes back into balance. Electrolyte therapy can help with this.

How to Replace Electrolytes 

To replace electrolytes, you should focus on hydration, getting enough variety through a whole foods diet, or choose a supplement. While it can be challenging to get everything, you need in the right proportions in your diet, supplementation can be an easy and effective way to get everything you need without worrying if you missed anything. Here are some of our favorites. 

LMNT 

This drink mix provides targeted electrolyte support and can be a great pairing with the keto or low carb diets, making it an ideal choice for many. They have the optimal ratio of electrolytes without any harmful ingredients such as artificial ingredients, fillers, gluten, or sugars. 

Re-Lyte

This is another electrolyte replacement that helps keep you hydrated and energized to keep up with your athletic goals and healthy lifestyle. It’s created without artificial flavors to provide “junk-free” electrolytes for your clean lifestyle. 

JigSaw Electrolytes

This company focuses on supporting health and providing great quality tested electrolyte balance supplements. Their sugar-free products do a great job in restoring electrolyte balance and supporting health in a convenient and easy to use way. Our founder Dr. Emily Parke did an interview with the JigSaw CEO – check it out here

What Conditions Can Electrolyte Therapy Help With?

Exercise Performance and Recovery

For athletes, electrolyte therapy can help with performance during activity and recovery afterwards. Electrolytes help sustain the total amount of body water to minimize any risk of unwanted side effects, such as cardiovascular strain during activity. When vigorously exercising, water loss increases due to sweat production. This is exactly why electrolytes are so important before, during, and after exercise. By supporting your body with electrolytes and hydration, you establish a normal fluid balance within the body and recover faster. If you’re looking to improve your athletic performance, or just recover faster from your daily workout, electrolyte therapy can help.

Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure can cause symptoms such as lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting. Sodium, chloride, and potassium are three electrolytes that play a significant role in blood pressure regulation. Sodium specifically helps to support fluid balance and plays a role in blood pressure regulation. Similarly, potassium and chloride have also been shown to have an effect on blood pressure.

So, to support low blood pressure, salt replacement can be a great remedy. It helps restore electrolyte balance and restores fluid balance. But more targeted electrolyte therapy can be even more beneficial at supporting blood pressure and fluid balance, minimizing any unwanted symptoms. Electrolyte therapy is a great solution.

General Hydration

Electrolyte therapy can be beneficial in maintaining general health and promoting hydration in the body. Taking an electrolyte replacement in your daily life ensures that your body has everything it needs to stay in balance and help you feel healthy. While replacement is key, staying hydrated is another easy step to promote general health and prevent electrolyte imbalances.

How Electrolytes Are Helpful for the Keto Diet 

The keto diet has become popular because of its effectiveness, reduction in appetite, and reduction of visceral fat. In the keto diet, the focus is on fats, followed by proteins and low carbohydrates. When eating this way, electrolytes can become imbalanced. You need more electrolytes than an average person because your diet tends to be lower in certain electrolytes and you lose more potassium and sodium in your urine. 

Because certain electrolytes decrease, you may notice symptoms classified as the “keto flu” – low energy, muscle cramps, headaches, weakness, and brain fog. This is because of low electrolytes! Replacing electrolytes while on the keto diet will help minimize any symptoms from the dreaded “keto flu” and support your body’s progress and weight loss journey. If you want to learn even more about the keto diet, we have a great blog on our site to learn how a keto diet works and how to get started here.

Support Your Health with Electrolytes!

While there are some great products out there to promote electrolyte balance (like the ones above), sometimes you need more specialized support to guide you in getting rid of nagging symptoms and supporting your health. Here at Arizona Wellness Medicine, we have a team of highly trained functional medicine providers to create a personalized plan for you so you can feel your best. Schedule an appointment here.

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