Water, hydration and the importance of electrolytes for your fluid balance
We as humans are on average 60% water- this can vary depending on your age, sex, hydration levels. People often wonder how much water should they drink on a day-to-day basis. As a general rule of thumb, you should consume anything from 25 percent to 50 percent of your body weight in ounces of water daily. But we should not focus here only how much water should you drink, but how much water is leaving your body (sweat, urine) on a day to day basis. If your body is dehydrated, you feel lethargic, experience brain fog, are low on energy, develop headaches etc. Dehydration can lead to weight gain, weakened immune response.
How can you stay hydrated?
As said the easiest place to start is to simply start to drink more clean water (ideally spring water). As an additional step is to make sure you get adequate amount of vegetables and fruits in your diet. They don't only contain water, they also contain electrolytes which are crucial for hydration and body function. Here are some of the most hydrating vegetables and fruits that also contain many electrolytes:
Citrus fruits (lemon, lime)
Berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries etc)
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge when they are dissolved in a liquid like your blood. They are incredibly important to overall health and are found in your blood, sweat, urine. If electrolytes in your body are too low or too high, you can have anything from muscle weakness, confusion, fatigue to serious health complications, such as seizures, cardiac arrest and even coma. We all loose electrolytes daily, through sweating and through our urine. If you drink too much plain water, you dilute your blood and deplete your body of important electrolytes. That's why it's very important to replenish your electrolytes with daily mineral-rich liquids and foods.
Below are the list of electrolytes and their necessities for the body:
Sodium- for maintaining body fluids balance and for keeping muscles and nerves to run smooth
Potassium- it helps your nerves to function and muscles to contract, maintaining body fluid balance. It also helps to keep regular heartbeat
Magnesium- it's needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body
Calcium- aside from helping to keep our bones healthy, it enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat.
Chloride- it helps to keep the fluid inside your cells and outside of your cells in balance. It helps to keep the needed blood volume, pH of blood fluids and blood pressure
Bicarbonate- is used to maintain the body's pH balance. It works with the other electrolytes to maintain electrical neutrality on a cell level.
Phosphorus- found in your bones and is important for bone building and maintenance, same as calcium
How can you easily replenish your needs for hydration and electrolytes?
Drinking too much plain water, you can over-hydrate your body, overtax your kidneys and dilute the sodium content in your blood, which can become life-threatening.
Also many health-conscious people don't consume enough salt, which is the only dietary source for sodium.
A good way to make sure you cover your daily electrolytes needs on top of consuming daily vegetables and fruits, is to consume an electrolyte drink. Many of the store-bought electrolyte drinks contain added sugars, sweeteners, flavour enhancing ingredients, which your body does not need.
How can you make an electrolyte drink at home?
Basic recipe is actually very simple. Start your morning with a big glass of filtered water or spring water and add a half a teaspoon of Himalayan salt or any other high-mineral rich salt to it.
If you want to enhance your water further, you can follow the below electrolyte elixir recipe by Robb Wolf:
1l (1 quart water)
2 tbsp of lemon juice
1/2 tsp of mineral rich salt (such as Himalayan, Celtic)
500mg potassium citrate powder
1/4 tsp of magnesium malate
If you desire a taste of sweetness, add a dash of stevia
Stir or shake to mix well. You can also add a bit of ice if you like.
It's very important to have an electrolyte balance in the body and hydrate the body on a daily basis. Short-term effects of electrolyte imbalance lead to muscle cramps, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, brain for, while long-term effects of electrolyte imbalance lead to cognitive damage, heart damage, osteoporosis.