06 January 2017

What Tinder and Electrolytes Have in Common

By Julia Delves

In my work with clients, I get a lot of questions surrounding exercise and electrolytes so I want to break it down for you and help clear the air.

But first, let's talk about what electrolytes are. Electrolytes are minerals dissolved in your blood and other bodily fluids (like sweat) that carry an electric charge.
Major electrolytes include:
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Chloride

The balance of these electric charges in your fluids support many organ and cell functions such as:
  • Nerve and muscle function
  • Blood pressure
  • Hydration
  • Repairing damaged tissues
  • Regulating your heartbeat

Basically, electrolytes are like Tinder users (a popular dating app for those of you who are out of the online dating game). Each electrolyte has a profile that determines their identity; in Tinder's case, with the help of Facebook. Their profiles identify them as having either a positive or negative charge.

As these electrolytes move around the fluid, they use GPS to find a perfect match of the opposite charge around their location. In order for there to be a perfect match, both electrolytes must swipe right to indicate that they want to start a conversation. If it isn't a good match, someone swipes left, the other is disappointed, yet they move along to other potential matches in the area (did that hit too close to home for any of you? Remember, there are plenty of electrolytes in the fluid sea!).

Once they begin messaging, they decide where they want to go on a date - either into a cell, out of a cell, or between cells. All the different users finding matches and going on dates all around the city is what creates an electric current and movement of fluid in and between cells, which leads to communication across organs and regulation of these different functions.

While your kidneys and hormones closely regulate electrolyte balance, excessive exercise or sweating, dehydration, illness, or certain medications can cause an imbalance.

Some symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance may include:
  • Muscle aches, twitches, spasms
  • Anxiety/trouble sleeping
  • Restlessness
  • Headaches
  • Feeling of excessive thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Blood pressure changes

Ways to combat electrolyte imbalance:
  1. Eat whole foods - processed foods are high in refined sodium (see number three) and low in other minerals that balance electrolytes, such as potassium and magnesium, which leads us to number two.

  2. Increase fruit and vegetable intake - fruits and vegetables are mineral rich, which naturally balances electrolytes. Vegetables and fruits such as leafy greens, broccoli, bananas, and avocado are particularly high in potassium and magnesium. Fruits and vegetables are also naturally hydrating as some have a very high water content such as cucumbers, watermelon, or citrus fruits.

  3. Switch to sea salt - Table salt is processed in a way where they strip all natural minerals and add in iodine, anti-caking agents, and bleach. Sea salt, on the other hand, is left unrefined and contains minerals. These minerals are, you guessed it, electrolytes that keep the sodium balanced in your fluids. Unless there is a genetic predisposition of high blood pressure, your body will respond much differently to sea salt than table salt. I recommend using Celtic sea salt, the sea salt highest in minerals and lowest in sodium.

  4. Stay hydrated - While there is a standing recommendation of eight 8 oz glasses of water per day, I disagree with that type of measurement. Everyone is different, eats different, and has different water requirements. If you are eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, and soup, you won't need as much water as someone who eats fast food all day. The key is to urinate every 2-3 hours and it should be light yellow in color. That's the golden hydration rule to follow!

  5. Replenish after exercise - Since your body is a natural super star at regulating your electrolytes, if you are not doing intense exercise/sweating lasting more than 45 minutes, then an electrolyte beverage is unnecessary - just stay hydrated! If you are exercising for more than 45 minutes, you don't need a massive Gatorade either. You only need about 6 - 8 oz to do the trick. And skip commercial sports drinks entirely! Why are they so blue? Coconut water is nature's source of electrolytes. Always buy raw coconut water from the refrigerated section. I like the brand Harmless Harvest the best. You can also try this easy homemade electrolyte drink!

Homemade Electrolyte Beverages:
  1. Juice of 1 lemon
  2. Juice of 1 lime
  3. 2 Tbs honey
  4. 2 cups warm water
  5. 1 pinch Celtic sea salt

Stir all ingredients together until honey dissolves. Place in fridge to cool until use. Try mixing it up by adding ginger, mint, cucumber, strawberries, or any other flavorings to keep it interesting!
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