How To Prevent An Imbalance Of Electrolytes In Your Body

Electrolytes are minerals in your bodily fluids. Your body needs them to perform many functions, including regulating blood pressure and keeping the pH levels in the blood normal (via Cleveland Clinic). Calcium, chloride, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and phosphate are examples of electrolytes, and they all perform different tasks. Your kidneys help keep electrolytes balanced by filtering them and excreting what your body doesn't need (via Merck Manual). 

Sometimes, too many or too little fluids in your body can cause electrolytes to become imbalanced, according to WebMD. If you sweat a lot without hydrating properly, you might throw your electrolytes off balance. Some medications also may upset the balance of electrolytes. Disorders involving the kidneys, liver, or heart can also affect electrolyte balance, per Merck Manual. Electrolyte imbalances can range from mild to severe, and because of this, symptoms can vary. That said, common signs include headaches, cramps, an irregular heartbeat, and confusion, reports Cleveland Clinic.

Proper hydration is key to preventing an electrolyte imbalance

Preventing an electrolyte imbalance comes down to staying hydrated. Hydration is particularly important if you're planning on doing anything strenuous like exercising — especially outside in the heat. To avoid dehydration, drink a glass of water two hours before any kind of strenuous activity (via WebMD). When you exercise or exert yourself, try to drink around four ounces of water every 20 minutes. If you plan on working out for longer than an hour, then an electrolyte beverage or sports drink should help these minerals stay balanced, according to the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM). 

You can also replenish electrolytes with food. Salted nuts, crackers, and pretzels are all foods that help restore sodium levels. Bananas, leafy greens, and potatoes contain potassium. Milk, almonds, and yogurt contain calcium, and spinach, pumpkin seeds, and peanut butter add magnesium to your body.