What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electrical charge when dissolved in water. Our body retains electrolytes from the food we eat and the fluid we drink. The minerals that carry the electrical charge include potassium, calcium and magnesium. These get distributed throughout the body and use their electrical energy to facilitate important bodily functions. Some of these important functions include:
– Balancing the amount of water in your body
– Balancing the body’s pH level
– Moving nutrients to your cells
– Moving waste out of your cells
– Regulating the nerves, muscles, heart and brain functionality
– Helping in rebuilding the damaged tissues
Many times, sports drinks and waters are infused with electrolytes. This is because when you exercise and sweat, you lose a valuable amount of electrolytes that need to be replenished. Maintaining a good amount of electrolyte in the body is not just important for people who play sports but for everyone. We need electrolytes to walk, breathe, laugh and even think.
What is electrolyte water?
Electrolyte water, as the name suggests is water infused with electrically charged minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Electrolyte water is also referred to as mineral water and alkaline water. Electrolyte drinking water improves hydration and other bodily functions. Here are more benefits of having electrolyte water.
Improves exercise performance
While exercising, you need additional fluids to replace the water lost in sweat. Even just 1-2 per cent loss of water from the body can lead to decreased strength, speed and focus. Sweat also has electrolyte including sodium, a small amount of potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Thus, in order to replace the electrolytes lost in sweat, you must drink electrolyte infused water along with regular water while exercising. It helps improve the functioning of your heart, brain, muscle and nervous system function.
Prevents heat stroke
From mild heat rash to severe life-threatening heatstroke, hot weather can put your health at risk. Your body manages by releasing the heat through skin and by sweating. But this natural cooling system may begin to fail in too hot weather, causing the body temperature to rise dangerously.
The best way to prevent heat-related illnesses is to limit your time in the heat and getting plenty of fluids and electrolytes.
Drinks containing caffeine can worsen the condition by causing dehydration thus must not be consumed during hot weather.
Rehydrate during an illness
Problems like diarrhoea and vomiting, if they persist for long can lead to dehydration in case the fluids and electrolytes are not replaced. In such a condition, doctors recommend drinking electrolyte-infused water to prevent dehydration.
In some cases, electrolyte beverages may not be enough to treat severe dehydration. If you feel sick for more than 24 hours and can’t keep up the fluid levels, you must consult a doctor.
Supports the functioning of the nervous system
Even a small drop in the hydration of the body can lead to decreased cognitive abilities, decreased concentration, alertness and slower reaction at times. With 3 per cent dehydration in the body, your reaction time becomes equivalent to someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 per cent.
Our nervous system is a collection of nerves and specialised cells that transmit the signals from your brain to the other parts of the body.
Sodium – Initiates the electrical impulses your nerve cells required for proper communication
Potassium – Neutralizes the nerve cell so that it can reinitiate subsequent electrical impulses
Magnesium – It allows for the effective transmission of electrical impulses
How to make electrolyte water at home
To make one glass (250 ml) of electrolyte water, you need 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1.5 cups of unsweetened coconut water, 2 cups of cold water.
Put all the ingredients in a big glass, mix nicely and have it chilled. You can also mix a teaspoon of honey to enhance the taste.