Electrolyte-loaded sports drinks may be boss for rehydrating after a workout (or a hangover), but the health benefits of electrolytes actually go much further than that. There are many ways to keep your electrolytes balanced besides drinking Powerade, too.
Electrolytes are minerals that produce ions when dissolved in liquid (including blood), and help with a laundry list of things, from expelling waste and producing energy to maintaining muscle and nerve function. Electrolytes naturally produced in your body include sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphate, among others.
When you’re cutting back on carbs, your body will start to process electrolytes differently. For instance, your kidneys will excrete more sodium, which can impact the balance of other electrolytes in your body, so it’s even more important to maintain that balance when you’re eating a low-carb diet.
Health benefits from electrolytes include:
Calcium helps promote REM sleep and produce the sleep hormone melatonin. We know that getting a good night’s sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and when you get plenty of calcium in your daily nutrition, it’s easier to catch those much-needed Zs. Calcium-rich foods include leafy greens, cheese, almonds, and yoghurt.
Good heart health
Electrolytes are great for helping your muscles contract, which directly benefits the most important of all muscles – your heart. Increasing your potassium intake can help lower high blood pressure, and magnesium helps reduce inflammation and helps prevent clogged arteries. Foods with a good bunch of potassium include avocado, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, salmon, and bananas. Get magnesium from avocado, nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate.
You’ve probably noticed that it’s harder to concentrate when you’re dehydrated. Sodium is the unexpected hero of keeping your brain at optimum function – too little of it can cause your brain to shrink, also known as dehydration. The key here is balance, because too much sodium is as bad for your focus as too little.