We all know of electrolytes but we tend to think of them only when we are sick and can’t keep anything down and/or in. But electrolytes are important every moment of our life. If you want to start running, your brain starts the signal that initiates a complicated series of timed muscle actions. Wiggle your finger. Blink your eye. Every sequence of these is both timed and controlled by electrolytes.
Body fluids are primarily water and electrolytes and there are 4 of them: Sodium, (Na) Potassium, (K), Magnesium (Mg), and Calcium (Ca). Electrolytes are vital for cellular function and especially necessary for high performance.
Simply put, without them we could not exist… even with the absence of just one of the basic 4 electrolyte minerals, we would be toast.
We lose our electrolytes not only because of illness but due to stress, poor diet, medications, exercise, and yes, illness. I have a lot of sick patients who can’t seem to hang onto their electrolytes. It has helped patients with migraines as well as fatigue. Of course it helps with muscle cramps, and often with sleep.
Even folks with healthy GI tracts can benefit though. My husband is a home builder and so he’s outside working on a daily basis. Using an electrolyte replacement has made a HUGE difference in his energy through the day. Huge. He used to come home and be spent after a days work, even if he stayed on top of drinking enough water. Now, he takes a swig or two of an electrolyte replacement through the day and he’s home mowing the lawn and irrigating. Did you hear that ladies? I can’t say it’ll get YOUR husband off the couch but it works ’round here!
The list of functions that electrolytes control is endless but include:
- temperature control
- fluid level
- cardiac arrhythmia
- respiratory rate
- fluid transport across cells
- ion transport
- renal function (bladder control)
- neurological function
- signal transduction
- all the senses both gathering information and then transporting that message to the brain and to the muscles including the sense of touch
- energy production
- glucose metabolism
Several of these functions influence what we call muscle cramps. Besides being sick, that is the other time that we tend to think of electrolytes.
I think you get the point right?!
You cannot provide the body with the optimal level of energy until you balance the electrolytes required by all the molecules within the body. Read this again and again until you can say it without looking.
Here’s the kicker though. It’s important that your electrolyte replacement beverage does NOT contain added or unnatural sugar. Sweet drinks add a burden to metabolic control by forcing the production of insulin to balance your blood sugar levels. So not only do these drinks do little to enhance performance, it’s quite possible that the extra sugar they add is doing more to slow you down. Electrolytes are replenished to improve function and performance; not satisfy your sweet tooth and give you a years supply of artificial colorings.
I bring all of this up because summer is fast upon us. Yes, I think we should have balanced electrolytes all year but summer is when we tend to really sweat and thus lose them.
If we are hiking and it’s not convenient to pack a large quantity of liquid, my electrolyte replacement of choice is E-Lyte or it’s also called Balanced Electrolyte Concentrate. It contains no sugar and is the exact ratio of electrolytes that is in our body. Nothing else. Does it taste good? No. Well, if you think the Pacific Ocean tastes great then you’ll love this. But, do I feel better after exercise or working outside in the heat? Absolutely. Knowing what I know, sometimes I even take it just because I feel a little “off” and maybe it’s psychological but I think it helps. I KNOW it helps with my cardio days in the gym. I also know it keeps me going when we work outside all weekend.
If we are at home, I prefer coconut water. It does have a sweet taste, because it is from a sweet food, the coconut right? But I believe that when mother nature makes it, we’re golden. When man starts to create “food” or “beverage” in a lab (gatorade, powerade), we’re toying with disaster. It just takes us years to figure it out and by then, a lot of people are sick!
If you are a patient, you probably already have an account established with www.emersonecologics.com. If you aren’t a patient already, follow the link and establish a new account using the codes HL2012 and 59044 (upper right hand corner when you get there.) The electrolyte product I mentioned has a code you can put in the search bar; it is “BALAN” and if you purchase at Emerson, you’ll save 15% off the retail price which always beats the Amazon price.
To your best health!