Elecrolytes: What are they and are Electrolytes Important?

Electrolytes can be found about anywhere these days. Even in water! Gatorade claims to be packed with electrolytes. Most Americans hear electrolytes and think energy! What exactly are electrolytes and why do our bodies need it?

The easiest way to remember why you need it is think energy! Our body is electric. It needs electricity to function. The electrolytes become ions and are the very thing in our bodies that conduct the electricity. These electrolytes are tested by doctors to make sure everything is working as expected. These electrolytes are tested through blood work. They include tests for sodium, chloride, bicarbonate, and potassium.

Sodium is responsible for the body’s water retention. If there is excess sodium in the body then it is excreted through the urine. Diets that are high in sodium are harmful to the body. The transmission of sodium plays a huge role in the function of the body. It helps the body process electrical signals for communication. The movement of sodium generates electrical signals to communicate with the brain, muscles, and nervous system.

If there is too much or too little sodium can cause cells to malfunction and can be fatal.
Chloride is found in the blood and outside of cells. Sea water is very close to having the same level of chloride as the human body. It is what helps the body maintain a normal balance of fluids.

Bicarbonate is what buffs the blood and maintains the normal levels of acidity. It also buffs other fluids in the body. Our acidity is affected by our foods and medications that we ingest into our bodies. Our kidneys, lungs and liver have a lot to do with our ph levels. If they’re not working correctly then our levels will stay imbalanced and can cause major diseases in addition to kidney and liver disease.

Gatorade is not the way to get electrolytes. Drink enough of it and it can increase the risk of kidney stones. Foods like peaches, apricots, pumpkin seeds, pineapple, bok choy and bananas are high in potassium. Foods like coffee, tea, chocolate, and watermelon are natural diuretics. They will lead to potassium depletion if not eaten in moderation. If you have a potassium deficiency they should be avoided all together.

Get some blood work done by your doctor and make sure that all your ph levels are balanced. Potassium is so important. It is the very thing that will let your brain communicate with the rest of your body. We are electric human beings. Our body works with energy and electricity. Make sure you are sending out the right volts throughout your body and in the right way. Eat more vegetables and fruits. Your life depends on it.