The many dangers of electrolyte imbalance on our health and workout are not well known. Too much or too little, balance is the key.
What are electrolytes, what is their role and what exactly are the dangers of electrolyte imbalance?
There is such thing as too much of a good thing and too many electrolytes can pose certain health risks, known as electrolyte disorder. Balance is the key, don’t over do it by drinking too many of the wrong energy drinks, just drink enough of the right ones. You can find your sodium and chloride in food such as snacks but keep them healthy; electrolyte imbalance should not be an excuse to fill up on salty food, have a few nuts instead. Potassium is easily ingested if you eat bananas, beans and the potassium loaded meats and vegetables.
What Electrolytes Are and What Their Roles
Electrolytes are nutrients, chemicals present in our body. These chemicals form ions, electrically charged particles, in body fluids. These ions carry the energy necessary to maintain the most basic but important functions, such as digestive, nervous, cardiac and muscular functions of the body.
The main electrolytes found in our body are calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphate, bicarbonate and chloride. They are gained through eating certain foods and drinking certain fluids. These small chemicals are big in how they allow the cell to generate energy and the body to work properly.
They have many roles that are equally important as they are interacting:
Stimulate nerves, regulate fluids levels, help your muscles including your heart to contract and relax, maintain your hydration level.
For instance, potassium regulates your heartbeat when chloride maintains balance in your body fluids and sodium regulates your water level. Magnesium maintain normal nerve and muscle functions. Calcium also is important in that regard but also for bone density. Phosphate is found in bones but is also necessary for tissue growth. Bicarbonate has an important function in the PH balance.
The Dangers of Electrolyte Imbalance
Electrolyte imbalance in the body is not something to be taken lightly, for it affects many parts of our body from brain to muscles. The electrolytes levels are shifting according to the fluids levels in our body, therefore, especially if you workout, you are more than likely to sweat some of your electrolytes at the same time as your water.
There is wide range of symptoms of electrolyte imbalance because of the many roles they play in regulating our body. Should there be a deficiency, you will quickly experience:
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Joint pain
- Blurry vision
Not to be overly dramatic but if ignored, the symptoms of electrolyte imbalance and chronic dehydration have been linked to serious illnesses like lupus and AFS (Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome), but also hypoglycemia.
Of course if you have cramps and muscle tetany, you can find yourself in a dangerous situation if driving, riding or swimming.
We lose the electrolytes in the natural process of life (including bathroom breaks) but especially through sweat which can trigger dehydration and a host of problems. There are many other reasons for this loss including cancer medication.
A simple blood work or urine sample can help identify electrolyte imbalance but the best way to avoid it, drinking carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks that will replenish your internal stock.