Hydration & Electrolytes

Yoga and Life

Surviving the heat of the summer (or Bikram Yoga) requires proper hydration and electrolyte balance. But most Americans operate in a state of dehydration. They simply don’t know how much better they’d feel if they just drank more water. When they get a headache they reach for a pain killer and never wonder why they have the headache in the first place. Headaches, dizziness, scratchy throat, stiffness, achy body, clogged ears and sinuses, dry eyes, fatigue and slower cognitive function can all be signs of dehydration and/or an electrolyte imbalance.

A properly hydrated human body is over 70% water – our blood is over 90% and approximately 75% of our brain and muscles is water. Knowing there’s nothing haphazard in the human body’s design — that everything serves a purpose — doesn’t it make you wonder why all the water?

It’s simple, really. The water in the body is what allows the body’s functions to take place in two primary ways:

  1. Water naturally absorbs and transports minerals and nutrients and
  2. Water is an excellent conductor of electricity.

Let’s use the blood, brain and muscles as examples to see how it all plays out.

We’ll focus first on our blood which, as you know, is the delivery system for oxygen, nutrients and waste products (toxins). The hemoglobin in our red blood cells carries the oxygen and the water delivers the nutrients and carries away the waste products. The water in the blood also moves the heat from the core of the body out through the surface capillaries releasing the heat and toxins through the skin in the form of sweat. This is how our body cools itself down. With the release of the toxins, it’s nice to know that a sweating body is a healing body.

The second reason above leads us to electrolytes and their importance. Electrolytes are minerals that can carry a positive or negative charge and therefore can conduct electrical charges. The central nervous system sends communication via electrical impulses making water crucial in both our brain and the firing of our muscles, hence their high water content.

Your brain has billions of neurons (nerve cells) which process quadrillions of synaptic transactions per second! Without water this can’t happen. And did you know that the hangover headache is the result of such severe dehydration that your brain has literally shrunk inside your skull? Well, now you know that not only is it painful but it’s also dangerous to your health!

As for electrolytes, I’ll just mention the most important ones: sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Among other things they each do, the sodium and potassium balance regulates the flow of fluids into and out of the cells and calcium and magnesium work together regulating the contraction and relaxation of muscles and vascular walls. When the ratios of these synergistic minerals get out of balance our muscles can misfire by cramping or twitching. These are just a few of the electrolytes but I’m using them to highlight how they affect the functioning of our muscles.

Overall, energy in our bodies is generated by the cells’ mitochondria and also every time fluid flows across the cell membrane. Our bodies are essentially electrochemical factories and rely upon water to both distribute and conduct the exchanges of the electrolytes.

Even with all that’s been covered, I’ve left out any mention of the electrolytes’ function in regulating the acid/alkaline balance (proper pH) to maintain a healthy immune system and more. I’ll leave that for another article.

In closing, keep in mind that a well hydrated body runs like a well-oiled machine. This is what nature intended. Planet Earth has supported human beings for eons so we can trust that nature has a way to fulfill all of our body’s true needs. Start taking control of your health by noticing what you are consuming and asking yourself why. What is the nutritional benefit?

You should know that caffeine and alcohol are diuretics which cause your body to pee and flush out the fluids. How difficult would it be to minimize their intake and drink Kangen® water instead? I promise you that when you minimize the bad foods and beverages and increase the intake of the good it won’t be long before you feel the benefits of your cleaner body. Health and vitality will be yours once again.