Electrolytes are the spark of life – minerals essential to the functioning of every cell in your body. They keep you hydrated, affect your blood pH and allow for proper nerve conduction and muscle contraction. The major electrolytes in your body include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, bicarbonate, phosphate and sulfate.
Since electrolytes are so important for your normal physiological functions, your kidneys are designed to keep the right amounts of these key minerals in your body. But levels can become depleted when you sweat excessively or if you have prolonged vomiting or diarrhea. When electrolytes are lost at a rapid rate, it’s important that they be replaced.
Electrolyte-laden food sources include leafy greens such as spinach, bok choy, kale and beet greens; most nuts, seeds, and beans; and fruits and vegetables. Surprisingly, squash and sweet potatoes are particularly high in electrolytes, so include them regularly in your diet. And avocados, bananas, potatoes and raisins are especially high in potassium.
If you sweat a lot when you exercise, consider my quick-and-easy electrolyte-replenishing drink recipes:
Triple-Citrus Electrolyte Replenisher
Optional (for extra electrolyte power): 1/8 tsp. sea salt, 1/8 tsp baking soda
Mix together juices, add salt/baking soda and drink.
Coconut-Banana Electrolyte Replenisher
Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
Alternatively, you can drink a healthy electrolyte drink mix, like Emergen-C Electro Mix. This product comes in portable individual packets that are great for travel or for when you’re on the go and need to quickly replenish and hydrate yourself. Mix one packet in a liter of water, and drink. Note that the product can fizz up, so it feels a bit like you’re drinking a healthy cocktail.
With proper electrolyte balance in your body, you can say hello to happier, more hydrated cells!
Laurie Steelsmith, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist who specializes in women’s health. She is the co-author of Great Sex, Naturally: Every Woman’s Guide to Enhancing Her Sexuality Through the Secrets of Natural Medicine and co-author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health: How the Secrets of Natural and Chinese Medicine Can Create a Lifetime of Wellness.