Healthy Digestion/How Do Electrolytes Impact Your Gut Health?
How Do Electrolytes Impact Your Gut Health?by Hannah Nguyen ● 18/01/2022 ● 6 min read
The Many Ways Electrolytes Impact Your Gut Health
We associate gut health with taking probiotics, prebiotics, and fiber.
Taking in these nutrients aids digestion, detoxification, and protection.
Without them, your gut can’t deliver enough energy to help you think clearly, sleep well, keep a healthy weight, stay upbeat, and flush out toxins that are harmful to your body.
As we all know, a poor digestive system can compromise the immune system, leading to severe health conditions.
It's no wonder people are investing in digestive health supplements.
But did you know that electrolytes play an equally important role in maintaining your gut in tip-top shape?
Yes, the same minerals you usually find in sports drinks are the most crucial components of a healthy digestive system.
So today, let’s talk about electrolytes and their role in your gut health.
What Are Electrolytes?
The brain controls bodily functions by sending signals or impulses through the nerves.
And these signals come in the form of electricity.
Electrolytes are minerals that emit electricity when dissolved in water.
This is how they supply your nervous system with the necessary energy to transmit signals to each other.
What do electrolytes do?
- They regulate the fluid levels in your body
- They’re responsible for the regular heartbeat
- Electrolytes allow for your muscles to relax and to contract
- They send nerve signals to your heart, muscles, and nerve cells
- They maintain the internal pH level of your body within the normal range – around 7.35 to 7.45
If you think about it, electrolytes are as crucial to your body as the battery to your car.
The most common electrolytes are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, zinc, and phosphorus.
You get electrolytes from what you eat or drink.
You must maintain a healthy level of electrolytes. Otherwise, you might suffer from health conditions including:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cramping and muscle weakness
The most common cause of electrolyte imbalances is dehydration from extreme heat, stress, diarrhea, and decreased fluid intake.
So if you’re sweating a lot, you have to take a break and replenish electrolytes by drinking water, fruit juices, sports drinks, or bone broth.
Now that you understand how essential electrolytes are to your body let’s discuss their value to your digestive system.
Why Focusing On Your Electrolyte Intake Can Be Beneficial To Your Gut?
You Suffer Less From Indigestion And Constipation
Here’s a word that you’ll find valuable to our discussion – “Peristalsis.”
So what is it?
It refers to a specific, rhythmic contraction of the muscles within your digestive tract that maintains digestion, absorption, and waste elimination.
It’s an involuntary muscle movement, so it’s something that you have no control over.
If you experience constipation, bloating, or cramps, it could mean that there’s something wrong with peristalsis.
That’s why most health experts advise that you eat fiber-rich foods and drink plenty of liquids to improve your digestion.
And what do these sources have?
Electrolytes, of course!
One particular electrolyte that is partly responsible for peristalsis is potassium.
This electrolyte is vital for muscle contraction so that the content of your gut moves forward.
Another electrolyte, magnesium, can relax the intestinal muscle, allowing stool to pass easier.
Magnesium also works as an osmotic.
It pulls extra water into the intestine to help lubricate your digestive tract so you can remove waste quickly.
Another electrolyte, chloride, plays a crucial role in producing and releasing hydrochloric acid (HCL).
HCL is an essential component of stomach acid.
Low levels of HCL could lead to nasty symptoms, including heartburn, trouble digesting meat, food allergies, and skin problems.
You Get The Most Out Of The Food You Eat
The foods you eat don’t automatically turn into nutrients.
Your digestive system has to assign specific enzymes to sort different nutrients into order.
Enzyme A absorbs fats.
Enzyme B looks out for proteins.
Enzyme C checks for carbohydrates.
It is similar to warehouse sorters, who organize finished products according to type, size, or condition.
A specific electrolyte, magnesium, is responsible for activating these enzymes so your body can break down food into nutrients.
Magnesium is also crucial for producing and transporting energy during digestion by triggering an enzyme called ATP – a molecule that stores energy.
So what does it mean to you?
It means you have more mental and physical energy to accomplish tasks even if you don’t eat too often.
It also means you’ll have an easier time losing weight because your metabolism is in full throttle.
Promotes Good Oral Health
Yes, your mouth is part of your digestive system, too.
And electrolytes proved to be an essential part of oral health.
For example, a study involving 30 adult human subjects showed how electrolytes could prevent cavities.
The researchers divided the volunteers into two groups.
Group A included 15 healthy individuals.
Group B consisted of 15 individuals with infected gums.
The researchers observed that Group B had a higher electrolytes level in their saliva than the healthy individuals.
The researchers believed that salivary electrolytes could kill bacteria or stimulate certain enzymes in the oral cavity to respond to infections.
Another case study involved 12 and 13-year-old students.
The researchers measured the electrolytes in the saliva to see how they influenced the formation of caries or tooth decay.
Test results had shown that the quality and quantity of salivary electrolytes play a significant role in tooth decay occurrence among participants.
Researchers also found that decreased calcium levels among participants reduced their defense against cavities.
Now that you understand how electrolytes promote better digestion, let’s talk about the creative ways of adding electrolytes into your diet.
Need More Electrolytes? Try These Easy Cooking And Dining Tips.
Make a homemade sports drink using common ingredients you can find in your fridge.
For example, you can infuse a pitcher of water with a slice of lemon or lime and then let the mixture sit in the fridge overnight.
Just before you head out, pour the mixture into your favorite container.
Then, add a few tablespoons of sugar or honey, a pinch of cayenne, and a teaspoon of salt.
For something more tropical, you can replace fruits with a cup of coconut water.
One cup of coconut water contains 350 mg of potassium, roughly equivalent to 13% of your daily value.
Always keep a piece of banana within reach when you need a quick source of electrolytes.
A medium-sized banana contains 422 mg of potassium, or about 16% of your daily value.
Bananas go well with anything, so don’t limit yourself to morning toasts and cereals.
You can also blend it with yogurt, milk, and honey for a low-calorie drink.
You can turn leftover dairy foods into tasty dips, salad dressings, or sauces.
Try a basic cheese crisp recipe with avocado dipping sauce for a healthy snack.
Everyone should hop on the bone broth bandwagon.
It is affordable, tasty, and goes well with almost any recipe.
One great way of using bone broth is to substitute it for milk when making mashed potatoes, gravies, or sauces.
Homemade bouillon cubes are a quick, easy source of electrolytes. Just add fresh chopped herbs for added flavor.
Snack on fresh fruits instead of chips.
Not only does eating fruit satisfy your sweet tooth, but it also boosts your fiber and electrolytes intake for healthy digestion.
A quick snack you can try is chocolate-covered fruit.
Just pick a bunch of fruit of your choice. Dice them up. Then skewer them.
Then dip the fruits into melted chocolate. Place them on a baking sheet and chill for 5 to 10 minutes.
As a bonus, chocolate is rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These electrolytes are vital for healthy digestion.
When it comes to digestion, maintaining a healthy level of electrolytes is as vital as your fiber intake.
Electrolytes keep your digestion run like a well-oiled machine, help you absorb nutrients from the food you eat, and keep your teeth healthy.
Yes, sports drinks are famous for their electrolyte content.
But, there are better, healthier alternatives to sports drinks that aren’t only delicious but packed with more nutrients.