Electrolytes are ionic solutions (salts), existing in nature in the form of minerals. Electrolytes are responsible for keeping the body properly hydrated so the muscles and nerves can function properly.

Since the human body is composed mostly of water, it is important that we take in adequate amounts of these minerals. What is more, when we are well hydrated, we are able to release toxic internal wastes such as harmful chemicals, urea and ammonia.

Additionally we need to practice proper hydration all day long daily to help prevent exercise dehydration.

Electrolytes are important because they are what your cells (especially nerve, heart, muscle) use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells. Your kidneys work to keep the electrolyte concentrations in your blood constant despite changes in your body. For example, when you exercise heavily, you lose electrolytes in your sweat, especially sodium and potassium. These electrolytes must be replaced to keep the electrolyte concentrations of your body fluids constant. So, many sports drinks have sodium chloride or potassium chloride added to them. They also have sugar and flavorings to provide your body with extra energy and to make the drink taste better.

Another example where electrolyte drinks are important is when infants/children have chronic vomiting or diarrhea, perhaps due to intestinal flu viruses. When children vomit or have diarrhea, they lose electrolytes. This can contribute to dehydration. Again, these electrolytes and the fluids must be replaced to prevent dehydration and seizures. Drinks such as Pedialyte have sodium and potassium in them like the sports drinks do. However, pediatricians do not recommend giving sports drinks to a sick child! Sports drinks have much higher sugar concentrations than Pedialyte and the high sugar is not a proper treatment.
As for your body, the major electrolytes are as follows:

You may think of getting a re-surge in electrolytes from a bottle of Vitamin Water or Gatorade, but truly the best and most natural way of replenishing electrolytes is from food. In fact, sugary sports drinks only provide a quick burst of minerals, but deplete the body over time.
Most fruits and vegetables are of help. Apples, corn, beets, carrots and green beans, are all rich in electrolytes. Other electrolyte-laden fruits and veggies include limes, lemons, oranges, sweet potatoes, artichokes, all types of squash and tomatoes. For best results, choose fruits and vegetables that are organic and, if possible, local to your community.

Nuts and seeds also are a great help. Most nuts and seeds are very high in electrolytes. For best results, choose nuts that are unprocessed and organic. Add some almonds, cashews, walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds or pistachios to your morning cereal of oatmeal.

Lima, red, white and pinto beans are the highest in mineral-rich electrolytes. Beans should be properly spiced to avoid excess gas.

Most greens are a great source of the major required electrolytes. Spinach, in particular, is high in minerals. Incorporate more greens into your diet. You can choose from kale, beet greens, mustard greens, and chard, to name a few. Each of these greens holds sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, as well as “prebiotics” that foster good gut flora and digestion.

Specifically, bananas are a great source of electrolytes as they are rich in minerals. Potassium is a key form of electrolytes, and this sweet fruit it one of the richest sources of potassium on the planet.

Here is a great tip to help. Put a pinch of Himalayan salt and a teaspoon or so of organic raw apple cider vinegar in your purified water will replenish electrolytes rapidly.

Greg the Trainer is a Fitness Advisor in the Bridge City, Orange, Vidor area. For additional information you may contact him at 409-550-0777 or gregthetrainer@yahoo.com.

About Greg Burkett

Fitness CounselorPersonal Trainer/MasseurMultiple Certifications