We all know we need water to survive, but many of us don’t think that through completely. We know we “should” drink water, but we don’t, and then wonder why we don’t feel very good. Everyone should be drinking half their body weight in ounces of water every day! So, if am a 145-pound female I should be drinking about 72.5 ounces of water per day. This will vary depending on the climate and activity level of the individual. But does it stop with just drinking a certain amount of water each day?
No! We need more than just plain water in order to stay hydrated and for our bodies and cells to function well.
Electrolytes help us to stay hydrated by making sure that the water goes where it’s supposed to! What are electrolytes you may ask? They are the following:
Salt, Potassium, and Magnesium. Salt holds water in our bodies and potassium and magnesium hydrate our cells. We need about 1.5 to 2 tsp of salt per day! So, don’t skip the salt. Especially if you are active and sweat a lot! And no, Gatorade and Powerade don’t count. They are full of sugar, chemicals, dyes, and other bad things that outweigh any good they were supposed to do.
Salt also could be driving your sugar cravings and addictions as well! When we are depleted of salt it activates the dopamine reward centers in our brains. Guess what we get the biggest dopamine hit from? Refined sugar. It’s more addictive than cocaine, though not as deadly. In a study performed with rats, given the choice of cocaine or sugar, the rats chose sugar and went back for more!
There is also such a thing as drinking too much water. Not everyone needs to be drinking gallons of water per day. This can actually dehydrate you because you end up flushing out electrolytes because you are peeing all day. Remember, we excrete water through our feces, sweat, respiration, and urine!
If you are an alcohol drinker or have a heavy caffeine (coffee/energy drinks) intake this too causes a massive loss of salt and water. Hangovers are the result of the loss of water in your neurons (hence the headache). Sugary beverages also cause dehydration by pulling water out of your cells. This is another reason to get juice and soda out of your diet.
The moral of the story: water is important, but salt, magnesium, and potassium are essential minerals. Make sure you are getting enough of these along with the right amount of water!