Within the last several years, we became aware of the term "electrolytes." If not for the successful advertising campaigns of Gatorade, Mineral Water and other sports drinks, many people would not know what these chemicals are, let alone know about the important role they play in the body. Now, thanks to these ads, a greater portion of society is taking care to replenish their lost electrolytes.
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You have probably heard of them, but what exactly are electrolytes? Electrolytes are essential substances that are needed for the body to carry on its various functions. These nutrients, when dissolved, create solutions that are able to conduct electric currents--hence "electro." These are important in maintaining your body's health. Electrolytes can be solid, liquid or gas, and contain electrically conducting ions. Bodies typically maintain the normal amount of electrolytes, but oftentimes these chemicals need replacing. Electrolytes are primarily lost by three main methods--sweating, vomiting and diarrhoea--and it is important to replenish them quickly.
Although all your electrolytes are important, the major ones are sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), and calcium (Ca2+). Other electrolytes include chloride (Cl-), magnesium (Mg2+), bicarbonate (HCO3-), phosphate (PO42-) and sulphate (SO42-).
Although sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade and Mineral Water are perhaps the most well-known drinks used to replace electrolytes, there are indeed other, more natural, alternatives that can be used. While these sports drinks undoubtedly do their job in replenishing your lost electrolytes, they also contain a high amount of sugar that you are unnecessarily adding to your system as well. Healthier alternatives to these sports drinks include fresh lime juice with salt and sugar, orange juice and pineapple juice. For infants and children, Pedialyte is a wonderful and safe product for replenishing electrolytes lost through diarrhoea or vomiting.
Although most people are only aware of replacing electrolytes through beverages, there are a number of foods that will help to replenish your electrolytes as well. Because you are looking to gain potassium, sodium and calcium, there are many fruits and vegetables that can help you reach this goal. Potatoes, bananas, oranges, raisins, asparagus, avocados, tomato soup and green leafy vegetables are among the most successful foods in replenishing your electrolytes.
Tablets or pills are not recommended as a means of replenishing electrolytes. Pills such as salt or potassium may be available, but replenishing your electrolytes through food or drink is by far the better alternative. This allows you to be in charge of exactly how much of the nutrient you are putting into your system, and assures that it is being put there in a more natural manner. This makes the nutrients more likely to be absorbed into your system.
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