When you consider the fact that 70% of the human body is comprised of water it comes as no surprise that water is often referred to as the “essence of life.” Next to oxygen, water is the single most important factor in sustaining life. Water is necessary to support the body fluids that transport nutrients, flush toxins and help maintain a balanced metabolism. While it goes without saying that it is important to drink plenty of water, many people don’t realize that you need to replace more than just fluids.
When we sweat, we lose body fluids which contain not only water, but also electrolytes that are critical to support vital functions. Electrolytes are actually minerals that are present in all body fluids. These minerals, which include sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride and phosphorous, help regulate body functions and when they are depleted serious physical problems can develop. Symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance include extreme fatigue, headaches, nausea, muscle cramps, dizziness and impaired concentration. A severe electrolyte balance can compromise the body’s ability to carry electrical charges in the nerves, the heart and other muscles in the body. Even a minor loss of fluid can cause an electrolyte imbalance that puts your health at risk.
In recent years sports drinks have emerged as a popular method of restoring electrolyte balance, but they are not considered the healthiest choice. Most sports drinks have high sugar content and also contain significant amounts of caffeine, artificial sweeteners and chemical additives. While they taste good and may provide a short-lived burst of energy, the calories and carbohydrates they contain often cancel out any positive benefits. If you choose to consume sports drinks, read the labels very carefully.
During the sizzling days of summer it is especially important to stay hydrated because of the fluids and electrolytes that we lose through sweating. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water so that your body and mind can function at optimum levels.