You may have heard of electrolytes – perhaps you have a vague memory from a science class or TV ads for Gatorade.
While sports drinks aren’t the kind of drinks you want to be consuming for good health – they’re expensive and often packed with sugar, artificial sweetener and additives – they’ve got it right about the importance of electrolytes.
What are electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals in your body with many important functions. From regulating your heartbeat to ensuring your muscles contract properly so you can move. They also control nerve function, hydration, blood pH, blood pressure and the repair of body tissue, including healing cuts, bruises and skin blemishes.
The most important ones we need on a daily basis are sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Electrolytes are found in our bodily fluids like sweat, urine and blood. We obtain them from certain foods and drinks, and lose them through fluid loss.
The most common way this can happen is sweating. Some sweating is good – it’s the body’s built-in mechanism to keep us cool. But when we perspire, it’s not pure water we’re losing – sweat also contains urea (a waste product), lactate (also known as lactic acid), nutrients and electrolytes. As a result, excess sweating that typically occurs during exercise such as yoga causes electrolyte depletion. This can lead to an imbalance.
Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance include a racing pulse, headaches, fatigue, drowsiness, numbness, twitching, bouts of confusion, muscle spasms and, in serious cases, seizures and blackouts. All of these are seriously, especially if experienced during a class.
To maintain good health, it’s important for lost electrolytes to be replaced quickly.
How to get back on track
Whether you’re feeling drowsy, weak, or simply have a headache, the best method of bringing electrolytes back into balance is to drink plenty of water straight from the tap, have a piece of fruit, or eat some vegetables.
Bananas are particularly rich in potassium, while kale and broccoli contain high levels of calcium. Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), a good source of sodium, is also excellent for gut health. Try chopping up a range of mixed veggies and storing them in your fridge in an air-tight container, to grab quickly and easily whenever you want.
Supplements are also a simple, effective method of ensuring healthy electrolyte levels. Be sure to choose a good quality supplement free that is 100% natural, free from animal products, ethically sourced, and rich in the right minerals you need for optimal health and performance.
The Yoga Naturals range of premium plant-based supplements has been specially designed to enhance your yoga practice and overall wellbeing. View the full collection of products here.
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