If you are on a low-carb way of eating, then you probably are experiencing muscle cramps, heart palpitations, or headaches. You do not feel your best, but you don’t know why. The body depends on essential minerals and vitamins to carry out hundreds of functions in the body. In the low-carb way of eating, it is common for individuals to become nutritionally deficient. Soon thereafter, several symptoms of electrolyte imbalance start to manifest themselves. People begin to worry and learn about electrolyte imbalance after the fact.
It is essential to understand the causes of these and other symptoms and what to do about it. It is no joking matter since some people end up in the emergency room because of the imbalance. It can be avoided. First, let us start by understanding electrolytes and the vital role they play.
What Are Electrolytes and What Happens if you Lack them?
Electrolytes are minerals, nutrients or chemicals that are essential to the optimal functioning of the human body. They are so named because they carry an electrical charge that separates into ions that are either negative or positive when dissolved in water. This process is essential to nerve function in the body.
Calcium primarily assists with the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth as well as cell division, blood clotting muscle contractions and nerve signals.
A calcium deficiency may lead to the following long term problems:
– Bone diseases such as osteoporosis and osteopenia
– Unstable blood pressure
– Muscle spasms numbness or tingling in the extremities (hands and feet)
– Mental or emotional problems like depression, hallucinations, and memory loss.
On the other hand, too much calcium could be fatal. The daily recommended allowance for Calcium is between 1000mg and 1200mg.
Magnesium is essential for similar functions as calcium as well as maintaining optimal heart rhythm and stable protein-fluid balance. Magnesium is also responsible for alleviating anxiety, to aid healthy digestion and maintain body strength.
A deficiency may result in the following:
– Muscle cramps and tremors
– Anxiety and high blood pressure
– Heart conditions
A lack of magnesium may also affect calcium absorption resulting in a Calcium deficiency.
3. Phosphate (Phosphorous)
Phosphate is stored primarily in the bones and assists with muscle contractions, nerve function, and repair of teeth and bones.
A phosphate deficiency can cause:
– Loss of appetite or sugar and coffee cravings.
– Low energy and reduced stamina
– Numbness, tingling or burning sensations in the extremities
– Joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness or bone pain
Phosphorous works in conjunction with Calcium and Magnesium.
Sodium assists with muscle contractions, nerve function as well as fluid maintenance in the body.
Symptoms of a Sodium deficiency (Hyponatremia) may include:
– Gastrointestinal disorders including nausea, vomiting and reduced appetite.
– Mental conditions such as irritability, hallucinations, headaches, lethargy and fatigue.
– Muscle cramps, spasms or fatigue.
A high volume of Sodium in the body causes dehydration, muscle tics, and kidney dysfunction.
Potassium assists with muscle functioning, regulating heart contractions and maintaining optimal blood pressure.
A deficiency may result in:
– Muscle fatigue and cramps
– Gastrointestinal distress (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea)
– Dehydration and frequent urination
– Irregular or changes in heart beat
– Confusion and irritability
– Low blood pressure
Chloride is important to maintain an ideal fluid balance assisting in regulating blood volume, pH balance, and digestion.
A deficiency may cause:
– Increased or heavy perspiration
– Heart failure
– Kidney dysfunction
– Lethargy and muscle fatigue
Chloride is also thought to help conserve and preserve Potassium levels in the body.
What Causes an Electrolyte Imbalance?
An electrolyte imbalance is caused when each of the above-mentioned minerals, nutrients or chemicals are not taken in their recommended doses. In other words, a lack of one could affect the function of another.
For example, a lack of magnesium could affect calcium absorption which could lead to a calcium deficiency even though you are consuming the recommended daily allowance of calcium. Every electrolyte influences the others depending on whether a deficiency or overdose has occurred.
It is also important to understand that electrolyte levels must be sustained and maintained and a quick dose of one or other mineral or chemical may not correct a long-term imbalance.
Although supplements can be taken to help ensure that your body is receiving the required nutritional value, it is always advisable to eat a balanced diet to ensure a good electrolyte balance.
A low carb diet can damage this delicate balance by resulting in the lack of one type of electrolyte that has a rollover effect on all the other electrolytes. This is the main cause of any electrolyte imbalance. Low-carb eaters are usually drinking a lot of water, which flushes out many of these important minerals. Moreover, during hotter weather, we sweat and lose water. The change in diet may mean that nutritional needs are not met as they were before. So what happens? What are the signs that an imbalance has occurred?
What Are the Symptoms of An Electrolyte Imbalance?
There are several different symptoms that signal an electrolyte imbalance. These symptoms may not be present at one time, may differ in severity and could also appear only after an extended period of an imbalance being present.
Symptoms of electrolyte imbalance include:
– The most common symptom involves the muscles presenting as spasms, cramps, tics or twitches and weakness or fatigue.
– Restlessness and insomnia.
– Anxiety, confusion, and difficulty focusing or with concentration.
– Persistent or periodic headaches.
– Dehydration and increased thirst.
– Increased body temperature or fever.
– Irregular heart beat and heart palpitations that may be painful.
– Gastrointestinal distress including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or constipation.
– Bone diseases and disorders.
– Joint pain and inflammation.
– Changes in blood pressure.
– Decrease or increase in appetite and weight gain or loss.
– Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or extreme tiredness.
If any of these symptoms are present for a short or extended period, it may indicate an electrolyte imbalance. It is advisable to consult a medical practitioner as soon as possible for a confirmed diagnosis as these symptoms may point to other diseases, illnesses or health conditions.
Restoring the Balance – What to Do about it.
CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR (Get your bloodwork done):
The first important step is to consult with your medical doctor and get some blood work done. This is particularly important if you are about to begin or have just begun a low-carb way of eating. You want to know the state of your kidneys and health in general, and the level of magnesium, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D. It would be very important, for example, to know if you have hyperkalemia. You will have a baseline. Moreover, as you progress in this way of eating, you want your doctor to be able to monitor your progress (and be shocked and awed!).
Taking too many of these nutrients can do damage to your body if you have a specific condition. So, rule out anything troubling, then do your research about how to replenish the nutrients, thus creating a balance over time. So first things first, and make sure things are in working order before adding supplements. If you have a greet light from your doctor or as soon as you get one, then do your research and invest in something that will actually make a difference.
The first step to restoring an electrolyte balance is to make immediate dietary changes. Include lots of low-carb vegetables and some acceptable fruit for the nutrition your body needs, even if they do contain carbs. Opt out of wholegrain carbs and include lots of nuts and seeds in your diet. You may need to switch to a good mineral salt. Cut out junk and sugary foods. Here are a sample of low-carb foods you could use for potassium and magnesium.
– Various types of nuts
– Salads and leafy green veggies
– Brussel Sprouts
– Dark chocolate (watch the sugars)
Get a mineral salt:
– Instead of the standard table salt, get a high-quality mineral salt that is packed with minerals and tastes good. If you are using it as your standard salt, it will make a difference.
Hydrate and Replenish
Dietary changes are not enough, especially if you are already experiencing symptoms and are perspiring because of sport or hot weather. Drink plenty of good quality mineral water, but remember that you may be losing more precious minerals than you are taking in. It is essential to replenish what you are losing, otherwise, symptoms and possible danger could arise. Water alone may not be enough.
Use a high-quality supplement that you know will be absorbed by your body. You want to make sure that you do not waste your money on cheap solutions that usually do not absorb.
If you are not absorbing the nutrients then you are likely wasting your money. Investing in a high-quality electrolyte formula is an investment in your longevity.
|Caution: Most cheap formulas are loaded with sugars and artificial color dyes. They are tempting to get since they are cheap and easily available. Do not do it. Here is why. The added sugar will sabotage your attempt to arrive at ketosis or maintain it. Pay attention to electrolyte mixes that contain maltodextrin — it can spike your blood sugar. Moreover, many formulas do not even contain adequate amounts of potassium. Make sure you get a quality formula that uses things like stevia, monk fruit, or organic erythritol, and that uses natural color agents (example: beet powder, turmeric) instead of artificial ones. Do not settle for artificial stuff when your body is in a sensitive state. Get a high-quality electrolyte formula that has adequate potassium and uses natural ingredients.|
So look for something with the follow characteristics:
– No sugar.
– No maltodextrin.
– Natural coloring agents.
– Contains trace minerals
– Has adequate potassium levels – (up to 1,000 mg). (remember to first get a clean bill of health from your doctor)
More than likely you are not eating enough leafy greens and other nutrient-rich food. Many take a dose of nutrient-dense greens power every day to prevent symptoms or fight off those that exist. Aside from a nutritional punch, green drinks help to alkaline an acidic ph in the body, which is common with a higher protein intake. Moreover, many with cancer, for example, have an acidic ph level in the body. Many report an increase in fat loss after using a top-quality green drink. A Green drink is very popular because it includes digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics, which are essential for optimal health. Furthermore, the absorption is much higher since it is a food source and not synthetic. Be careful to only settle for the best. You get what you pay for and your body will know the difference.
As you replenish your body with high-quality food you will notice that the symptoms will subside.