Electrolytes are critical for proper hydration and cell function! You can drink as much water as you want, but if you’re lacking electrolytes to pull the water into the cell, you will be dehydrated on a cellular level.
Our brains generate bio electrical signals that rely on electrolytes to function. Together, the electrolyte cells in the brain can generate up to 600 volt! When we are dehydrated, our brains cannot function properly! Now if that isn’t a reason to stay salty 😜
Especially when on a low carb, high fat diet, like the one my family follows, your body needs more electrolytes, especially sodium to perform optimally 💪🏻
While we have been told to restrict our salt intake because it has the potential to raise blood pressure, the opposite it actually true. According to Robb Wolf:
At the most basic level, when you restrict salt, your body is like: “Ah crap, I need to hold onto what little sodium I have!” It’s a smart mechanism to save sodium, but it has consequences.
Sodium-retention is governed by a system of hormones called the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. I’ll talk more about this system later but, for now, understand that when sodium levels drop, this trio of hormones tells the kidneys to stop peeing out sodium. These hormones also serve to increase blood pressure.– read more here
Cooking with Salt:
Of course, like with everything, salt quality matters, as seen in the graphic below. Commercially refined salt (sodium chloride) which is found is almost all processed foods and in the shakers at most restaurants is not a healthy choice and our bodies can’t do much with it.
Healthier alternatives include Himalayan pink salt or sea salt which also contain trace minerals needed for other body functions. Additionally, these have not been processed in a factory which leaves them as close to intact as nature intended them to be 😉
We prefer sea salt over Himalayan pink salt, since there is a risk that the Himalayan salt is contaminated with heavy metals due to pollution. Brands that I like include Celtic Sea Salt and also Maldon flaked sea salt for cooking and sprinkling 🧂
In addition to being incredibly healthy for cell functioning, you can use salt to enhance the flavor of your foods. Salting steak a few minutes prior to cooking can bring out its yummy flavor 😍
Another tip is to salt multiple times during the cooking process rather than once at the beginning of the end, which again optimized flavor 😋
Electrolytes are minerals that carry a charge when dissolved in a liquid, such as blood or the fluid in our cells.
It’s the kidneys job to regulate the amount of electrolytes in body fluids and to maintain an equilibrium by excreting any imbalance through the urine.
Sodium in particular plays an important role in the body- it helps maintain normal fluid levels in the fluid compartments. The body sends sodium in/out of fluid compartments depending on where fluid is needed (this is called a concentration gradient, the bodies natural tendency is always to restore equilibrium).
Cell walls also use the concept of “concentration gradient” to generate electrical impulses via electrolytes to shuttle small molecules across the cell wall (sodium – potassium pumps)! This gives our mitochondria the inputs it needs to generate ATP.
Our mitochondria then use electrolytes like magnesium and potassium in the electron transport chain to generate ATP. The better hydrated we are, the more effective we can create fuel for our bodies!
Our muscles need them in order to contract: electrolytes are ion regulators that facilitate molecular action in muscles, in other words, without electrolytes, we cannot move.
Supplementing with Electrolytes
It’s also a good idea to supplement with a properly balanced electrolyte blend, this is even more important when you’re eating a lower carb diet and especially in the transition period when you feel you’re experiencing the keto flu (it could be an electrolyte imbalance)
While it’s a complex equation, electrolyte deficiency in folks adhering to a low-carb diet is in a large part driven by two key factors.
First, when you make the switch to a low-carb diet, you are probably eliminating processed foods from your diet, which contain high amounts of sodium. Second, low-carb diets are diuretic in nature, meaning the kidneys excrete electrolytes at a higher rate. This is normal and not something to be worried about, but it is important to replace these electrolytes.
All is not lost though: by properly supplementing your electrolytes, the keto flu can be dramatically reduced, if not avoided altogether.-LMNT
I make an effort to hydrate 1-3 times a day with an electrolyte supplement called LMNT. The company has formulated their packets to contain the perfect balance of sodium, potassium and magnesium so that my cells and mitochondria can function optimally.