The human body contains in the region of 70% water, and which in turn contains oxygen and electrolytes that your body needs in order to function optimally. When you perspire, which is the body’s way of cooling itself, you lose some of those electrolytes too.
By now most of us know that we need to drink water regularly to replace that which the body constantly loses via normal bodily functions, but it is not only the water that we need to replace , it is the electrolytes as well.
Electrolytes salts, specifically ions. The ions are electrically charged and move to either a positive electrode or a negative electrode. Positive ions are called cations and negative ions are called anions.
Various bodily fluids, such as the fluid between our cells, called interstitial fluid, blood and plasma, contain a high concentration of sodium chloride (salt), which is made up of the electrolytes sodium and chloride.
Major electrolytes in the human body are:
- Sodium – maintains water balance, activates thirst response and prevents water intoxication & hyponatremia; prevents muscle cramping, maintains normal blood pressure and enables nerve impulse transmission.
- Potassium – hydrates by maintaining the water balance; helps your muscles to use glycogen, their main source of energy; prevents muscle fatigue; stimulates the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins, and enables normal muscle contraction.
- Chloride – maintains the balance of water in the body; energises the body by helping it break down protein and absorb vitamin B12 and minerals; prevents cramping; enables normal muscle relaxation and contraction and nerve impulse transmission.
- Magnesium – prevents cramps; decreases pain from sports related injuries; prevents muscle spasms; helps the body convert adenosine triphosphate (ATP) into energy; assists in building protein and stimulates the metabolism of carbohydrates. Magnesium also impacts blood pressure, heart rate, athletic performance, and oxygen intake.
So, as you can see, drinking water is not just about slaking thirst but also about ensuring that we have sufficient electrolytes in our bodies to perform all the above tasks.