Electrolytes are a part of many processes in a body. They affect how muscles and a nervous system works, and it also keeps a person hydrated while regulating a body’s pH levels. So that a body runs appropriately, it’s essential to get enough electrolytes from a diet to keep a body functioning as well as it can. Curious as to why people recommend replenishing fluids after exercising or being out in the sun? Electrolytes are essential in keeping a body hydrated and while on a low carb diet, electrolytes are even more imperative. Specifically, on the keto diet, a high fat, low carb diet, a body needs more electrolytes the kidneys excrete more sodium. The main electrolytes that get affected by this process are sodium, potassium, and magnesium. Check out The Body Reboot book to further understand the importance of electrolytes and keep reading to learn what other bodily functions electrolytes affect.
Prevent heat stroke
Can Fam Physician, a study from 2012, argues that you need electrolytes to prevent heat stroke, and a doctor can help figure out the right eating plan for you so you can find a diet and lifestyle that works best for you.
To provide family physicians with an evidence-based approach to the diagnosis and management of hypocalcemia. Quality of evidence MEDLINE and EMBASE articles from 2000 to 2010 were searched, with a focus on the diagnosis and management of hypocalcemia. Levels of evidence (I to III) were cited where appropriate, with most studies providing level II or III evidence. References of pertinent papers were also searched for relevant articles. Main message Chronic hypocalcemia is commonly due to inadequate levels of parathyroid hormone or vitamin D, or due to resistance to these hormones. Treatment focuses on oral calcium and vitamin D supplements, as well as magnesium if deficiency is present. Treatment can be further intensified with thiazide diuretics, phosphate binders, and a low-salt and low-phosphorus diet when treating hypocalcemia secondary to hypoparathyroidism. Acute and life-threatening calcium deficit requires treatment with intravenous calcium.The current treatment recommendations are largely based on expert clinical opinion and published case reports,as adequately controlled clinical trial data are not currently available. Complications of current therapies for hypoparathyroidism include hypercalciuria, nephrocalcinosis, renal impairment, and soft tissue calcification. Current therapy is limited by serum calcium fluctuations. Although these complications are well recognized, the effects of therapy on overall well-being, mood, cognition, and quality of life, as well as the risk of complications,have not been adequately studied.
Family physicians play a crucial role in educating patients about the long-term management and complications of hypocalcemia. Currently, management is suboptimal and marked by fluctuations in serum calcium and a lack of approved parathyroid hormone replacement therapy for hypoparathyroidism.
In 2016 Journal Intensive Care Medicine did a study on how essential it is to have enough sodium in your system. Without it, you can get hyponatremia, which means your body doesn’t have enough electrolytes. Side effects of hyponatremia include diuretic use, diarrhea, heart failure, liver disease, renal disease, and the syndrome of inappropriate ADH secretion (SIADH).
Hyponatremia is the most frequently occurring electrolyte abnormality and can lead to life-threatening complications. This disorder may be present on admission to the intensive care setting or develop during hospitalization as a result of treatment or multiple comorbidities. Patients with acute hyponatremia or symptomatic chronic hyponatremia will likely require treatment in the intensive care unit (ICU). Immediate treatment with hypertonic saline is needed to reduce the risk of permanent neurologic injury. Chronic hyponatremia should be corrected at a rate sufficient to reduce symptoms but not at an excessive rate that would create a risk of osmotic injury. Determination of the etiology of chronic hyponatremia requires analysis of serum osmolality, volume status, and urine osmolality and sodium level. Correct diagnosis points to the appropriate treatment and helps identify risk factors for accelerated correction of the serum sodium level. Management in the ICU facilitates frequent laboratory draws and allows close monitoring of the patient's mentation as well as quantification of urine output. Overly aggressive correction of serum sodium levels can result in neurological injury caused by osmotic demyelination. Therapeutic measures to lower the serum sodium level should be undertaken if the rate increases too rapidly.
Healthline mentions how essential it is to stay hydrated and what you can do to make sure that happens (of course, the answer is electrolytes!).
Water must be kept in the right amounts both inside and outside each cell in your body.
Electrolytes, particularly sodium, help maintain fluid balance through osmosis.
Osmosis is a process where water moves through the wall of a cell membrane from a dilute solution (more water and fewer electrolytes) toward a more concentrated solution (less water and more electrolytes).
This prevents cells from bursting from being too full or shriveling up due to dehydration.
A Clinical Medicine London study from 2004 also discusses how staying hydrated assists in adequately digesting food and absorbing nutrients, to name a few.
Nutrition and fluid and electrolyte balance are inextricably linked through ingestion, digestion, absorption and intermediary metabolism. Studies are described showing that man's physiological capacity to excrete excess salt and water is limited under normal conditions; it is further reduced by starvation and injury, so that patients are easily overloaded, resulting in increased complications of illness and surgery. Return of gastrointestinal function postoperatively is delayed by moderate saline overload. Illness not only influences external fluid and electrolyte balance but also internal balance between the extracellular and intracellular spaces and between the intravascular and extravascular components of the extracellular space. The mechanisms and management of these changes are discussed. The importance of fluid and electrolyte balance in nutritional support is emphasised–indeed, the benefits of nutrition may be negated by electrolyte imbalance. The relationships between serum albumin concentration, illness, nutrition and fluid balance are discussed and the limited role of albumin infusions described. Surveys among doctors have revealed a poor knowledge of fluid and electrolyte balance. Measures are needed to improve training.
Nervous system function
Yet another vital function electrolytes assist with is your nervous system. Healthline explains how your brain “talks” to your nerve cells and how they all work together to keep your body functioning well.
Your brain sends electrical signals through your nerve cells to communicate with the cells throughout your body.
These signals are called nervous impulses, and they’re generated by changes to the electrical charge of the nerve cell membrane.
The changes occur due to the movement of the electrolyte sodium across the nerve cell membrane.
When this happens, it sets off a chain reaction, moving more sodium ions (and the change in charge) along the length of the nerve cell axon.
When should you worry?
You might be wondering how to know if you’re dehydrated or when you should worry, and Rush explains which signs to look for in regards to monitoring your sodium levels. We also discuss this more in depth next.
The good news: Most of the time, healthy people don't have to worry about electrolytes. “If you're getting enough electrolytes through your diet and staying properly hydrated,” Braun says, “your levels should be OK.”
So when should you be concerned? These are some common causes of electrolyte spikes or dips:
Prolonged vomiting, diarrhea or high fever, such as from a virus
Congestive heart failure
Hormonal or endocrine disorders, such as primary hyperparathyroidism
Certain cancers, including breast cancer, lung cancer and multiple myeloma
Drinking too much water, which can cause overhydration
The key to preventing health-threatening imbalances is to be aware of these instances when electrolytes are more likely to become depleted or build up. And, if need be, get advice from your doctor or another health care provider on how to maintain or restore the balance.
Medical News Today recommends monitoring your electrolytes, and you can do this by getting a test and asking your doctor what he or she recommends.
An electrolyte panel is used to screen for imbalances of electrolytes in the blood and measure acid-base balance and kidney function. This test can also monitor the progress of treatment relating to a known imbalance.
A doctor will sometimes include an electrolyte panel as part of a routine physical exam. It can be performed on its own or as part of a range of tests.
Levels are measured in millimoles per liter (mmol/L) using the concentration of electrolytes in the blood.
People are often given an electrolyte panel during a hospital stay. It is also carried out for those who are brought to the emergency room, as both acute and chronic illnesses can impact levels.
If the level of a single electrolyte is found to be either too high or too low, the doctor will keep testing this imbalance until levels are back to normal. If an acid-base imbalance is found, the doctor may carry out blood gas tests.
These measure the acidity, oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels in a sample of blood from an artery. They also determine the severity of the imbalance and how the person is responding to treatment.
Levels may also be tested if a doctor prescribes certain drugs known to affect electrolyte concentration, such as diuretics or ACE inhibitors.
Having enough electrolytes in your system is essential, and The Body Reboot book explains how to replenish your fluids and why it plays an integral part in succeeding on the keto diet. Want a free copy of the book? Help us cover shipping and visit this page to get your free copy today!
Sources: NCBI: Can Fam Physician. 2012 Feb, NCBI: J Intensive Care Med. 2016 May, Healthline, NCBI: Clin Med (Lond). 2004, Medical News Today, Rush
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