Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electric charge in your body. You need electrolytes to aid in normal functions including fluid balance, muscle contraction, heartbeat and nerve transmissions that communicate sensory processes. The primary electrolytes include sodium, chloride, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Electrolytes can become imbalanced from dehydration, use of diuretic medications or if you have medical conditions that prohibit your kidneys from processing fluids properly. Correcting an electrolyte imbalance can be simple with dietary changes or more complex depending on your health status. If you have a medical condition consult your physician for evaluation to determine the safest course of action.
Visit your physician for a routine physical that includes an electrolyte panel. If you experience persistent symptoms of swelling, weakness, confusion, nausea or abnormal heart rhythm, this may indicate an electrolyte imbalance. Once your test results come back your physician can determine the electrolytes that require correcting.
Drink adequate amounts of water daily. The amount of water needed varies on the electrolytes
requiring balance. For instance, if you have a low blood sodium level you may need to restrict your water intake temporarily because too much water flushes the sodium out of your body. Your physician can help you determine the amount of water you should drink per day based on your specific condition.
Eat potassium-rich foods like bananas or raisins. If your potassium level is low, increase your intake naturally with foods. Cantaloupe, peanuts, spinach, apricots, yogurt and prunes are potassium-rich foods. Consult your physician before increasing potassium in your diet to ensure safety for your specific condition.
Take a sports drink with you when you exercise. Sports drinks generally have added electrolytes to help you maintain electrolyte balance during your workouts.
Eat a well-balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and low-fat dairy. Foods are a natural source of the electrolyte minerals. Eat regular meals and snacks along with maintaining fluid hydration to stay balanced. Avoid excess sodium consumption by limiting your use of table salt.