Do you only drink water when exercising? Did you know that you also need to consider replacing the key electrolytes (sodium, potassium calcium, magnesium, phosphate and chloride) to stay hydrated?
These substances are essential dietary components and must be acquired in your diet to help regulate body fluids and stay healthy.
Sweat consists mainly of water and small amounts of electrolytes that trigger various electrical responses in the body. However, many people replace water when exercising but not electrolytes. On hot days, replacement of electrolytes is essential.
Hyponatremia (low sodium levels) causes water to move out of cells. As a result, headache, confusion and lethargy occur. This can accelerate into seizures, coma and even death. Add half a teaspoon of salt to one litre of water to keep sodium levels consistent.
Low potassium levels can cause muscle weakness, spasms, cramps, respiratory and kidney problems. Foods rich in potassium are bananas, oranges, nuts, wholegrain bread and cereals.
Low calcium levels during and after exercise can cause cramps in the legs, back, spasms of the larynx (voice box) and seizures. Foods rich in calcium are fresh green vegetables such as kale and broccoli.
Low magnesium causes similar issues that are associated with low calcium and potassium. Good sources of magnesium are dark chocolate, avocados and nuts.
Low phosphate causes muscle weakness, respiratory issues, heart failure, seizures and coma. Meats, nuts and whole grains are all high in phosphates.
Chloride ensures the body’s metabolism is working correctly. Low levels due to excessive sweating can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, difficulty breathing and weakness or fatigue. Half a teaspoon of salt in a litre of water will ensure healthy chloride levels remain during exercise.
HIDDEN NASTIES IN BRANDED ELECTROLYTE DRINKS
Avoid consuming expensive electrolyte drinks that have added artificial ingredients to add taste and shelf life.
These are unnecessary and bad for your health. Below is an incomplete list of some of the popular added ingredients food companies like to use in their electrolyte sports drinks:
- Sorbitol – causes bloating and diarrhoea.
- Sucralose – artificial sweetener which increases blood glucose and insulin levels, decreases insulin sensitivity and decreases beneficial bacteria in the gut.
- Maltodextrin – white starchy powder added to sports drinks for flavour, thickness and shelf life. Negatively affects good gut bacteria and increase intestinal disorders. Increases weight gain, gas, flatulence and bloating. In addition, skin irritation, asthma and cramping have been associated with Maltodextrin.
- Potassium Sorbate – used to suppress formation of moulds and yeast. Toxic to DNA and has a negative affect on immunity.
- Fructose – Drives inflammation and increase fatty live disease.
HOMEMADE ELECTROLYTE DRINK
Just make your own, save money and stay healthy.
- 500ml of water (or coconut water)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt (Himalayan Pink Salt)
- 4 teaspoons of runny honey
- 1 large slice of lemon or lime (squeezed or added whole)