Electrolytes are most commonly recognized as an ingredient in Gatorade and required for athletes during exercise to prevent dehydration. Many people think about muscle cramping as the result of being dehydrated or not getting enough electrolytes. But in reality, muscle cramping is actually one of the end results of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance where your body is saying “I need electrolytes or I’m going to shut down!” I’ve heard it compared to motor oil, we don’t need it to necessarily fuel our cars but we need it in order for everything to run smoothly. This is similar to our bodies.
Electrolytes are dissolved mineral salts from the foods we eat and drink, most commonly we think of sodium and potassium. They are important to give us energy, contract muscles and move fluids evenly throughout our bodies. In order for our body systems to perform well, the balance of electrolytes and water in our bodies must be maintained.
One of the more common results of electrolyte imbalance is dehydration. This can occur when we exercise and are sweating profusely or are in hot weather but not drinking or just drinking water without electrolytes or salt. This can also occur when you are sick and lose body fluids through diarrhea or vomiting. A person may become thirsty as well as develop fatigue, weakness, headaches and muscle cramping.
Maintaining proper electrolyte balance is important for our bodies and while we have built-in mechanisms to keep that balance, there are situations where we can cause our bodies to offset this balance. Commonly, this may be through exercise, when we are in extreme hot weather or we’re sick.
When replenishing electrolytes for any reason, we want to do so slowly, consistently and using a replacement that has a variety of electrolytes – not just salt or salt tablets. If we are exercising and sweating a lot, constantly sipping an electrolyte drink versus chugging a whole bottle at once will better provide electrolyte replacement. This same strategy can be used when we’re sick or when it is hot out. This is especially important with kids who are at summer camps or school when they are constantly running around and playing. Providing them with a quality electrolyte drink in their water bottles is a good idea to keep them hydrated and prevent headaches.
As far as electrolyte drink choices, while the electrolyte ingredients are important, be sure to look at other factors such as sugar content. Many common brands contain up to 22g of sugar in a serving which may be counterproductive to the benefits of the electrolytes, not to mention this is not something we would want to fill in our kids’ water bottles. At Better Safer Smarter, we can recommend an alternative which has 3g of sugar per serving but twice the electrolytes and an excellent balance of mineral salts.
As a personal testimony, I just completed the Spartan Trifecta which is three races (4, 9 and 13 mile obstacle course races) in a calendar year and I’ve done the 13 mile race 3 times now in triple digit heat. I wore a hydration pack and sipped our product throughout each race and never cramped, or felt any other symptom of dehydration. On the contrary, in every race, many of my running partners cramped and often had to stop the race due to dehydration. I trust our products to give to my kids for every sporting event and it is always in their water bottles during the summer.
As a doctor of physical therapy, professor and sports enthusiast, health and wellness are naturally a part of Janice’s lifestyle. For her family, having toxins out of the home as well as healthy snacks and vitamins are also a priority. While Janice loves the roles of helping patients return to their lives after injury and teaching students to become skilled, compassionate therapists, family is the most important aspect of her life. With two young children, Janice finds herself longing to be at every school field trip, volunteer in their classrooms and be home to pick them up from school. Through The Legacy Group, Janice has found the flexibility to earn an income both in and out of the home, giving her time to coach her kids’ sports teams and enjoy the outdoors surfing, skiing and hiking with her family. The Legacy Group has allowed Janice to share her passion for health and wellness with others while creating an income to bring her home to her family.