You Lyte up My Life: The Role of Electrolytes in Hydration
This month, we’ve challenged our clean.fit fam to #31daysofselflove. Have you been following along on IG? There’s a still a week left to get involved, and we’ll be regramming some of our favorites from our followers in the coming weeks!
One of the simplest ways you can practice self love and help your body perform optimally is by staying hydrated. But despite water fountains and fancy water bottles, it’s all too easy to catch a breath at the end of a busy day and realize you forgot to hydrate!
Hydration & Electrolytes
Between 40-70% of your body weight is comprised of water. Think of the body like a reservoir, with pockets of water reserves ready to be relocated when hydration levels start to drop. Electrolytes are what ensure those reserves of water can be distributed to the right places. These are crucial nutrients found within the body that come from food and water. The main ones are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, potassium, and sodium; and the electric charge of these minerals balances your blood’s pH levels and helps cells maintain voltage for muscle contractions and nerve impulses.
You lose electrolytes during the day through bodily functions like sweating and urination. It’s important to replace what you lose and get the recommended daily average of 64 ounces of water in order to avoid dehydration and help keep electrolyte levels in balance. Poor diet, heavy exercise without replacing lost fluids, or illness can also cause dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance, making it difficult for the body to move water to where it’s most needed. Muscle twitching and cramps are a common sign of an imbalance - aka dehydration.
Why Else is It Important to Hydrate?
The effects of mild dehydration are decreased cognitive and athletic performance. If you’re feeling foggy and wondering why, think about the last time you had a glass of water! Longer-term dehydration can lead to increased inflammation, risk of UTIs, dental disease, and constipation. The kidney is especially at risk with chronic dehydration because it regulates electrolytes in the bloodstream in order to offset changes to the body. This is why it’s so important to make good hydration habits, like starting your morning with a full glass of water!
What can you do to prevent or recover from sustained dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance?
Drink water during exercise or exposure to heat and the sun: The rule of thumb is to replace what you lose, so hydrating while working out prevents the risk of fluid levels dropping too low to begin with.
Have fluids with meals and focus on post-workout nutrition: Be mindful of the foods you’re eating after a tough workout, and incorporate foods with high concentrations of electrolytes, like dark, leafy greens, apples, and stone fruits. Fruit is a great choice immediately after a workout because of high water and electrolyte content (and it’s portable!).
Use an electrolyte supplement: If you’ve had a lot of sun exposure and may be mildly dehydrated, or if you can’t have a meal or water for a long time after a seriously sweaty workout, an electrolyte supplement will help your body correct an imbalance and move fluids back to areas where they’re depleted. The February clean.fit box includes SOS Hydration’s rehydration drink mix, great for combating mild to moderate dehydration due to everyday activities like sports and travel. We love it because it’s made from natural ingredients and has 75% fewer carbohydrates than a sports drink!
Have any other ways you like to stay hydrated? Please let us know by shooting us a note at email@example.com!
Stay hydrated, friends :)