There’s always a lot of talk around better hydration and electrolytes are the buzzwords.
What are electrolytes anyways? If you are like me, I gravitate towards sports drinks when thinking about how to replenish my electrolytes. That’s what my coaches told me when I was an athlete in high school, that’s what my trainers told me as I trained over the years, and that’s what advertisers still tell us today!
Are you someone who fell for advertiser’s pitch on drinking sugary sports drinks to replenish electrolytes? I certainly fell for it and probably so did everyone else who listened to this message. Something like the G-Series Gatorade Ads and this one – “Prime, Reform, Recover” is what makes it all sound so convincing until you wake up to the reality of what electrolytes actually are.
What are electrolytes?
“Electrolytes are minerals in your blood and other body fluids that carry an electric charge” (https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002350.htm) and electrolytes support major body functions like helping to regulate the amount of water your body retains, the acidity (pH) levels in your body, muscle function, blood pressure, and the rebuidling of damaged tissue, amongst others (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/153188.php).
This description alone is enough reason to understand why electrolytes are essential to any living human, even more important to someone who’s working out and training like an athlete.
Here’s the amazing truth: sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are the most recognized electrolytes, but there are others like hydrogen phosphate and bicarbonate; amongst others, which are also electrolytes. Looking at this list and contrary to what advertisers lead you to believe, consuming fruits and vegetables is the most accessible way to replenish electrolytes!
Sodium, which can be replenished by consuming salt, is in a lot of our food intake already. Spinach and bananas are great sources of potassium. Broccoli, kale, and a lot of other leafy greens are a great source of calcium. Nuts and seeds are a great source of magnesium. The list of sources for electrolytes, outside of the sugary sport drinks category are in abundance, so there’s no reason to reach for that Gatorade, Pocari, or 100 Plus. You’re better off eating a healthy balanced meal than consuming artificial sugars anyways!