Importance of Electrolytes in the Body
The human body is an electrical machine. All vital bodily functions happen as a result of electrical signals being sent between the various parts of your body and your brain. In order for your body to operate at peak performance, these electrical signals must be conducted in an efficient manner- this is where electrolytes come in. Electrolytes are substances that will conduct electricity when dissolved in water – the most common electrolyte in your body is salt.
Your body is 70% water, about two-thirds of the water resides inside your cells, (intracellular fluid) and about one-third resides outside of your cells, (extra cellular fluid). Your body works constantly to make sure that the intracellular fluid and extra cellular fluid have the same amount of electrolyte concentration – this is a very important component of homeostasis or your body’s inner balance.
The mechanisms that monitor and adjust the balance of electrolytes respond only to changes in extra cellular fluid such as blood. When someone is ill or injured and taken to the hospital, one of the first and most common procedures is to hang an I.V. which simply means injecting salt water directly into the blood stream. Doing so helps the body to operate better because electrical signals moving between the brain and the body can be better conducted.
In addition, when salt is added to the extra cellular fluid it causes water to move between the intracellular and extra cellular areas allowing the body to become properly hydrated. This is why athletes, for example, take salt pills or drink “sports drinks” during work-outs. Sports drinks are simply salt water, or other electrolyte solutions, mixed with artificial colorings, artificial flavorings, artificial sweeteners and chemical preservatives.