Gatorade and other sports drink commercials often feature super athletes pushing themselves to the point of exhaustion, taking a swig from a sports drink, and then rallying to set new personal bests. It’s a marketing campaign that insinuates you can accomplish great feats of athleticism when consuming drinks loaded with these unique electrolytes.
But there are serious consequences–including hyperkalemia–when your body has too few or too many electrolytes and there are better options than grabbing a bottle of sugar-laced sports drinks, according to an online article in Care2 Healthy Living.
First, a quick chemistry lesson. Electrolytes consist of sodium, potassium, and calcium. Balancing electrolytes is required for the normal function of our cells and organs. When we exercise, our bodies lose water and electrolytes through sweating. Hyponatremia is a common water-electrolyte imbalance and can be brought on when you drink too much and when sodium levels drop. Hypernatremia is too much sodium and is an offshoot of dehydration, which can cause high sodium levels. Hypokalemia (low potassium) is when your blood’s potassium levels are too low. This can bring on abnormal heart rhythms and muscle weakness. Conversely, hyperkalemia is when potassium levels are too high and can affect nerve and muscle cells, including the heart.
So, how can you avoid or limit your exposure to the conditions and symptoms above? Work to keep your electrolytes in balance. Electrolytes occur throughout nature and are readily available. All you have to do is visit the produce section of your local grocery store.