Electrolytes - Seems like a term we hear most often when we’re sweating thanks to physical activity or the weather. However, electrolytes are important year-round, even the winter months (especially flu season!)
Many sports drinks (such as Gatorade and PowerAde) and various bottled water brands boast about their products containing powerful nutrients called ‘Electrolytes’…but what exactly are they?
Electrolytes regulate nerve and muscle function, hydrate the body, balance blood acidity and pressure, and help rebuild damaged tissue.
Electrolytes are ions (or charged particles) that conduct electrical current. They are vital for nearly every process in the body and are obtained through a balanced diet and mineral supplements. Important electrolytes include Sodium, Chloride, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Bicarbonate, Zinc and Phosphates.
Keeping your electrolytes balanced means having a proper ratio of each one in your body, and not having too much of one over the others! Excessive exercise, diuretics, improper diet, and certain illnesses can affect your electrolyte levels.
When picking electrolyte drinks, go for plain water brands such as Core or Smart Water! Gatorade and PowerAde do contain electrolytes, but they also contain a high amount of sugar that may not be beneficial when sedentary. These drinks only may be good when exercising a lot and need to replenish sugar stores when perspiring excessively.
Written by: Matthew Schreder, Health & Wellness Director of the Tri-City YMCA