Electrolytes are ions having an electrical charge, that keeps our body functioning by activating muscles & nerves. They are minerals – primarily sodium, phosphate. potassium, chlorine, calcium, and magnesium. These minerals are seen in our bodily fluids such as blood, lymph etc and helps to regulate the fluid balance in the body and the pH levels. It also helps in moving nutrients into the cells and makes sure that the nerves, muscles, heart, brain etc works properly
Look at it this way – for example, when you decide to run, your brain sends signals to the legs muscles to perform this action. This signal has to be carried through a wire (like in an electric circuit wire). Our nerves do this job – and the electricity that passes through the wire (nerve) is nothing but these charged ions (electrolytes). We may lose these electrolytes during illness or due to significant water loss through sweating. The amount of electrolytes we lose while exercising, playing a sport etc depends on the intensity of the workout, weather and even changes from person to person.
Hyponatremia is a condition that occurs when the sodium concentration is too low and can be fatal if not replenished. The symptoms of electrolyte loss are nausea, muscle spasm, muscle weakness, twitching, weakness, seizures, irritability etc.
Excess electrolytes in the body also is equally bad. Hypernatremia is the condition of excess sodium in the body. The excessive thirst when you overconsume salt (Sodium Chloride) is the body’s mechanism to bring the electrolyte balance back to normalcy
Pickles, olives, banana, soups etc are all electrolyte sources. Sports athletes are often fond of banana as they replenish the lost electrolyte apart from giving energy during a high-intensity sport. Even an ORS solution or, lemon water mixed with salt can also be a good source of electrolytes, instead of the sugary sports energy drinks seen in the market.