It is easy to think of staying hydrated as exclusively limited to drinking water. When we drink water, we actually are using electrolytes to stay hydrated. Electrolytes are super important for our overall health. They live throughout the human body in sweat, blood, urine, and are key players in maintaining fluids for the heart and brain function. They affect nervous body impulses, contracting muscles, and maintaining our body’s pH levels.
What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are a type of particle that has either a positive or negative charge when it is dissolved in water. Nutritionists refer to electrolytes as essential minerals found in sweat, blood and urine. When these minerals dissolve in fluid, they form electrolytes, and are used in the various jobs the body needs to do.
These are the electrolytes found in our bodies:
“Electro” makes me think of electricity. The positive (+) and negative (-) charges make better sense to me with this understanding. This is just one more clue pointing to the electrical functions of our body.
I love this! God knew we were energetic, electrically charged beings from the start.
What DO Electrolytes Do To Help Us Stay Hydrated?
These positive and negative charged minerals help the body perform these important jobs:
- Support heart health
- Maintain brain health
- Regulate fluid balance
- Promote nerve and muscle function
- Improve bone strength
Wow – It Sounds Like Electrolytes Do ALL The Important Jobs
Yes! These metabolic processes are all seriously crucial to staying alive. In face, if your electrolytes are a bit out of balance, you might experience muscle weakness, confusion, fatigue. So if you have a big imbalance of electrolytes, you might experience problems with brain function, heart health, nerve and muscle malfunction, and weakened bones. Yikes! None of those sound like anything to mess around over.
What Happens When We Fail In Using Electrolytes To Stay Hydrated?
Electrolytes become imbalanced when we get dehydrated. If this happens, the electrolyte levels are too high or low in the blood. The signs and symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance can vary a bit, and I want to draw your attention to them.
- Irregular heartbeat
- Stomach pain
- Frequent urination
- Dry mouth
- Mood changes
- Increased thirst
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle weakness
So save these symptoms in your mental computer. Because when these signs of electrolyte imbalance happen, you need to move quickly. There is no messing around when dehydration leads to electrolyte imbalance.
What Causes The Dehydration Electrolyte Imbalance?
The body keeps the electrolytes in balance by monitoring the levels in our blood. There is a happy zone in which the body/blood interaction maintains all our body systems.
There are a few situations that can throw off the balance of electrolyte levels. And these can cause mild to deadly effects to our health.
Here are a few common causes of dehydration and low electrolytes:
- Fluid loss caused by excessive sweating, diarrhea or vomiting
- Eating disorders
- Poor diet
- Kidney disease
- Severe burns
- Congestive heart failure
- Certain medications, such as water pills or laxatives
If you experience these or any other symptoms of an imbalance, be sure to talk to a trusted health care professional to determine the best course of action.
My Current Story About Using Electrolytes To Stay Hydrated
Using electrolytes to stay hydrated is an ongoing effort I struggle to accomplish. Dehydration and staying hydrated has been an ongoing issue for me over the last few years. So even though I drink LOTS of water, my nutritionist, chiropractor, and opthamologist warned me that I am mildly dehydrated. And I have increased my water intake over the last few months. It feels like I am constantly peeing. But whatever.
I know that a couple of factors are impacting my ability to stay hydrated and maintain electrolyte balance. I have been taking prescription meds for high blood pressure. My family history of high blood pressure and strokes is too prevalent for me to try to treat it without meds. Blood pressure meds typically work as diuretics, flushing out water and salts from the body. They also can deplete the body of potassium. So this is in my mental computer at all times.
I began to consult with my nutritionist in February 2020. I did this because my chronic eye issues again resurfaced and this time it had been going on for 4 months. First, she told me I was dehydrated. Next, she also sensed that my eyes were irritated by a medication.
So What Did I Do?
After that, she narrowed it down to my prescribed water pills, which I took for blood pressure. Then, I went to my primary care doctor and discussed this problem. Finally, we decided to replace the water pills with another medication that didn’t act in the same way.
And THAT change tipped the balance scales to help my eyes begin to improve.
My dehydration was causing an electrolyte imbalance which showed up in my eye issue. I know this was just one external symptom of many unseen internal problems I was experiencing.
One additional step I take each day is to add a bit of Himalayan Pink Salt to my drinking water. The salt helps to replenish electrolytes and curb dehydration. Using electrolytes to stay hydrated is a conscious choice I make daily.
My future articles will offer some additional ways to promote hydration. And in the process of beating dehydration, we can maintain the best balance of electrolytes in our precious bodies.
Enjoy your healthy life!