What is an Electrolyte?March 27, 2014 3:38 am
Wondering what an electrolyte is? Discussing the 5 most important electrolytes – Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Chloride & Bicarbonate in order to “electrify” your Bikram Yoga practice!
If you’re feeling fatigue within the first few postures of class it’s probably due to a lack of electrolytes in your body. We mentioned the importance of supplementing your water intake with an electrolyte source in out last blog, but here we will explain why electrolytes aren’t just an option they are a requirement.
Adding electrolytes to your practice will immediately invigorate your body and boost your energy levels, helping to fight off that fatigue! We’ve all heard this mentioned before, but what are electrolytes exactly?
Technically speaking, electrolytes are elements that turn into ions in liquid and gain the ability to conduct electricity. These little sparks help keep our bodies up and running! The 5 essential electrolytes we need are, sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, and magnesium.
Types of Electrolytes
The most common way we lose electrolytes is through excessive sweating!
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and talk about what each of these electrolytes do for our bodies.
Helps to regulate the amount of H2O in our bodies by telling us when we’ve had too much or too little. The movement of sodium in and out of cells plays a role in bodily functions as many functions require that little spark of electricity to get them going! More specifically, sodium helps to keep our brain and nervous system running and prevents muscle cramping.
Where to get Sodium:
In society today we often hear that we need to reduce our intake of sodium since too much can lead to heart disease. This is true, but we still need a healthy amount in our diets, especially for us Bikram Yogis! Sodium in our diets isn’t hard to find, pay attention to your labels to be sure you are getting just the right amount, which Health Canada recommends to be approximately 1,500mg for the average adult.
Check out this Health Canada report for more information.
Everyone talks about getting enough potassium, but why? Potassium is powerful mineral micronutrient and plays a key role in proper nutrition. Similar to sodium, it helps to maintain H2O balance, but it also energizes your muscles by activating their main sources of energy. Diets rich in potassium help to maximize muscle function, including the body’s most important muscle, the heart and can even lead to a reduction in the risk of hypertension and of stroke. Potassium also helps to combat the negative effects of too much sodium in your diet.
Where to get Potassium:
Everyone knows that bananas are a good source of potassium, but did you know kiwis contain just as much? Not only do kiwis have tons of potassium, but they will also provide your body with vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and more vitamin C than an orange! Try blending up a kiwi, a banana and some watermelon for a refreshing, nutritious and electrifying snack!
At first glance chloride seems very similar to our other electrolytes as it helps to transmit nerve impulses, regulates fluid in and out of cells and maintains acid/alkali and electrolyte balance. However, it serves two other important purposes. It helps the body break down proteins and absorb minerals and vitamin B12 by assisting to trigger our metabolism.
Where to get Chloride:
Chloride can be found in many foods and if you are eating something salty you are also putting chloride into your system. For a tasty chloride rich snack whip up some Bruschetta with olives, since both tomatoes and olives are great sources of this stimulating electrolyte.
An alkaline element that acts as a buffer to maintain normal levels of acidity in your blood and other fluids in your body such as those found in the stomach. Helps to buffer lactic acid that is generated during exercise while helping to keep our kidneys and lungs healthy. Bicarbonate is importing in helping us combat fatigue!
Where to get it Bicarbonate:
Our bodies generally produce enough of this electrolyte through the foods we normally eat everyday. However, if you are doing lots of exercise, we suggest making sure you take a double dose of those potassium rich foods suggested as these are also great sources of biocarbonate. Other suggestions are potatoes, prune and orange juice!
Last and certainly not least this electrolyte is essential to all cells found in living organisms. Diets lacking in magnesium have been associated with the appearance of asthma, diabetes and osteoporosis. This is because magnesium helps to decrease vulnerability to disease, eases symptoms of medical and psychiatric conditions, and boosts performance of other minerals. In exercise, it helps to decrease pain from injuries, facilitates muscle relaxation and works to prevent cramps and spasms. Overall, by helping the body to build proteins, assisting in producing and storing energy, and stimulating the metabolism of carbs and fats magnesium is an electrolyte that cannot be left out our diets.
Where to get it Magnesium:
Magnesium isn’t hard to find and many of us are probably eating lots of it everyday. The 3 main sources of magnesium in our diets include; beans and nuts, green leafy vegetables and whole grains, such as brown rice and whole wheat bread. Caffeine reduces the amount of magnesium in our bodies, so if you can’t get through the day without your caffeine fix make sure you snack on some of the magnesium rich foods suggested.
Electrolytes are absolutely essential to the proper functioning of our entire bodies! No excuses, make sure you make them a priority in your yoga pratice and we promise you’ll be fighting off that fatigue in no time.
Think you’re running low on electrolytes right before class?
Ask our teachers or front desk staff for a quick fix with a coconut water, or add some Elete, Emergen-C or Vega to your water bottle!
Categorised in: Healthy Living