When Balancing Electrolytes, Grab Bok Choy Instead of a Sports Drink

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.

Hypocalcemia (low calcium) can cause confusion, muscle cramps, and tingling in the hands, face, and feet. Whereas, hypercalcemia (high calcium) can bring about nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting.

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.

Collard greens, black-eyed peas, and bok choy will add calcium to your diet. To increase your potassium intake, look to peas, broccoli, and kiwi. To help manage sodium, stay away from bread, snack foods, and cheeses. Swiss cheeses are low in salt and a good option if you must have cheese with your sandwich.
Overall, there are many ways to manage your intake of electrolytes. Think green and leafy, rather than sugary and chilled. To read more, click here.

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