Electrolytes are necessary for the positive functionality of several systems within the body, but they are subject to a range of myths and misconceptions. For example, many people believe electrolytes are often in need of targeted replenishment and that sports drinks are a healthy way to achieve that. In reality, a healthy diet maintains an appropriate level of electrolytes in most people, and most sports drinks are full of sugars and even a fifth of the daily allowance of sodium, 480 mg.
Electrolytes – Overview
Electrolytes are substances which are dissolvable in water and are capable of conducting electricity, and they are a necessity for our survival. The body’s automatic processes usually require a small electric current to occur, which they obtain from electrolytes. According to MedicalNewsToday, they “interact with each other and the cells in the tissues, nerves, and muscles.” We need a balance of the different electrolytes to maintain healthy function. Some common examples are bicarbonate, calcium, potassium, and sodium. According to The Daily Meal, all you need to do to maintain the right balance of electrolytes is eat healthy.
Exploring the knowledge gap surrounding electrolytes can be difficult given the lack of information about that gap. Exact statistics concerning people who understand electrolytes do are not readily available. We searched several databases, articles, and reputable blogs and could not find that data. However, we did find information on the various myths surrounding this substance. We decided to focus on those myths in comparison with reality as the best method of exploring the knowledge gap.
Myth #1: “Bottled water with electrolytes is healthier”, from PalmBeachPost.com. However, most Americans never need to replenish their electrolytes in this targeted fashion. Electrolytes do not enhance hydration.
Myth #2: “Electrolytes replace minerals lost in sweat”, from Active.com. Yet, electrolyte enhanced water and plain water effect the physiology and performance of the body in the same way after a 60 minute or shorter workout. The reality is that the amount of electrolytes in each drink of this kind is negligible, especially compared to the amount already in the blood.
Myth #3: "You need a sports drink to replace electrolytes." from HealthGrades.com. As mentioned above, the best way to replenish electrolytes is eating right. Most people never need to consider electrolytes, not unless they often exercise strenuously for 90 minutes or more.
Myth #4: "Electrolytes in sports drinks are good for your heart." from HealthGrades.com. On the contrary, a large drink of this kind adds roughly 480mg of sodium, or 1/5 of the daily allowance. That potentially increases an individual’s risk of high blood pressure, depending on the rest of their diet.
Myth #5: “Eating mustard can relieve cramps because it has electrolytes in it” from MomsTeam.com. The digestive system does not process the sodium and potassium within mustard fast enough to impact a muscle cramp. Scientists evaluating this found no change in blood levels of the 2 electrolytes in mustard within an hour of eating it, eliminating the condiment as a cure for cramps.
Electrolytes are unarguably vital for human life, but people usually maintain the proper amount of them without considering the matter through their regular diet. Even in those cases where electrolytes are needed, sports drinks are not necessarily the ideal option given their high levels of sugar and sodium.