When electrolytes are depleted, the body feels tired and heavy. Messages from muscles and nerves don’t seem to get through. Electrolyte depletion can be caused from heat, dehydration, exercise, diarrhea, vomiting, intoxication or starvation. Serious dehydration can lead to medical emergencies.
When it’s hot and you’re outdoors, it’s important to keep hydrated. If you are exercising, it’s easy to get depleted of electrolytes and not even notice it for a while. That’s why its so important to keep your electrolyte balance up.
According to Wikipedia:
In chemistry, an electrolyte is any substance containing free ions that make the substance electrically conductive. The most typical electrolyte is an ionic solution, but molten electrolytes and solid electrolytes are also possible.
All known higher lifeforms require a subtle and complex electrolyte balance between the intracellular and extracellular milieu. In particular, the maintenance of precise osmotic gradients of electrolytes is important. Such gradients affect and regulate the hydration of the body as well as blood pH, and are critical for nerve and muscle function. Various mechanisms exist in living species that keep the concentrations of different electrolytes under tight control.
Both muscle tissue and neurons are considered electric tissues of the body. Muscles and neurons are activated by electrolyte activity between the extracellular fluid or interstitial fluid, and intracellular fluid. Electrolytes may enter or leave the cell membrane through specialized protein structures embedded in the plasma membrane called ion channels. For example, muscle contraction is dependent upon the presence of calcium (Ca2+), sodium (Na+), and potassium (K+). Without sufficient levels of these key electrolytes, muscle weakness or severe muscle contractions may occur.
Electrolyte balance is maintained by oral, or in emergencies, intravenous (IV) intake of electrolyte-containing substances, and is regulated by hormones, generally with the kidneys flushing out excess levels. In humans, electrolyte homeostasis is regulated by hormones such as antidiuretic hormone, aldosterone and parathyroid hormone. Serious electrolyte disturbances, such as dehydration and overhydration, may lead to cardiac and neurological complications and, unless they are rapidly resolved, will result in a medical emergency.
Electrolytes commonly exist as solutions of acids, bases or salts. Furthermore, some gases may act as electrolytes under conditions of high temperature or low pressure. Electrolyte solutions can also result from the dissolution of some biological (e.g., DNA, polypeptides) and synthetic polymers (e.g., polystyrene sulfonate), termed polyelectrolytes, which contain charged functional group.
Electrolyte solutions are normally formed when a salt is placed into a solvent such as water and the individual components dissociate due to the thermodynamic interactions between solvent and solute molecules, in a process called solvation.
In oral rehydration therapy, electrolyte drinks containing sodium and potassium salts replenish the body’s water and electrolyte levels after dehydration caused by exercise, excessive drinking, diaphoresis, diarrhea, vomiting, intoxication or starvation. Athletes exercising in extreme conditions (for three or more hours continuously e.g. marathon or triathlon) who do not consume electrolytes risk dehydration (or hyponatremia).
Most commercial sports drinks and electrolyte drinks today are full of artificial colors, flavorings, sweeteners and other far from natural ingredients – far from natural. Even the natural sports drinks found in health food stores have questionable ingredients.
Why not make your own truly replenishing, rehydrating electrolyte drink? Here’s a great recipe from By Debra Raybern, N.D.
Two ounces Ningxia Red
16 ounces purified water
20 drops Mineral Essence
1 drop lemon oil
1 drop peppermint oil
One teaspoon Blue Agave
Mix together in bottle to take with you in the cooler. Sip on this rather than dehydrating soft drinks and alcohol (or artificially colored and flavored sports drinks).
The above recipe is a great way to restore depleted electrolytes or to sip on during the day to keep your electrolyte balance up.