By Rachel Welch
Electrolytes are a common topic of conversation here at Health By Principle. This is partly due to their remarkable ability to help with migraine prevention, and also partly due to their remarkable benefits to everyone’s health, whether you battle with migraines or not! Electrolytes are valuable minerals in the body that help to balance water levels, provide passages for nutrients to reach our cells, remove waste, and more. Without the proper balance of electrolytes, the body can experience a lot of wonky symptoms. One of those symptoms may be changes in urinary frequency.
Basics on Electrolytes
In addition to discussing the relationship between electrolytes and urinary frequency, we will also cover the basics of electrolytes: what they are, why we need them, and how to get them.
What Are Electrolytes?
There is some excellent information on the “need to know” about electrolytes in this article. To summarize, electrolytes are minerals in the body. Examples of these minerals are:
All of these minerals/electrolytes play an important role in the body, and a deficiency of them can be detrimental (1).
Why Do We Need Electrolytes?
As we touched on earlier, electrolytes are minerals in our body that play a number of important roles. They can:
- Balance levels of water and hydration in the body: Electrolytes are one of the main factors in proper hydration. This is why you will often see sports recovery drinks labeled with electrolytes, and advertised to help you hydrate after intense activity. They help the body to restore water levels and balance out after exercise. This also helps our body with regular waste removal, primarily through urine and sweat.
- Move nutrients to cells: Inner-body travel is only possible when things are working properly and well hydrated. This includes the movement of nutrients that we take in. If the body is not properly hydrated, it may not absorb the nutrients from food and drink like it should, which can lead to a number of undesirable side effects and illnesses. Electrolytes help to keep the important parts of our body moving and absorbing!
- Allow nerves to communicate and send signals: Without electrolytes, a lot of inner-body communication wouldn’t happen. Our body communicates through signals in the brain, which travel through the nerves, to tell various areas important information. Without proper hydration, our nerves are too “thirsty” to communicate, and that can understandably lead to a number of unpleasant issues. Think of a person who has been lost in the desert for days, too tired to go on. . .that is a dramatic representation of our bodies without the electrolytes that they need.
- Help muscles relax and perform normally: After a tough workout, particularly if it involves weight training and targets muscle-building, it is common to experience soreness and tight muscles. This is a normal occurrence that comes with the breakdown and rebuilding of muscle, but is also heavily impacted by hydration. If the balance of electrolytes is too low, an athlete may experience more soreness and tightness than usual, and recovery time may take longer.
- Keep the brain sharp and functioning: Our brain needs water. Our brain is 73% water, so water is pretty important (5). This is generally well-known, but it is important to remember that water alone does not hydrate. It is the combination of water and electrolytes working together that brings the ideal balance of neurological performance. By ensuring that your electrolyte levels are where they should be, your brain will be healthier! This means better cognitive performance and stronger mental acuity.
- Keep the heart healthy and functioning: Just like the brain, the heart also relies on proper hydration to work as it should. The heart is responsible for pushing our blood through every part of us, and that is not an easy job! Proper hydration and a good balance of electrolytes impacts everything.
- Keep Migraines at Bay: In addition to everyday health benefits, electrolytes also play a role in keeping away and managing health challenges, like migraines. By providing cellular hydration, electrolytes are an important key to migraine relief for many people. Supplementing with electrolytes helps correct the imbalance that participates in migraines.
- Illness Recovery: Electrolytes are a fantastic go-to for illness recovery, particularly if an illness left you dehydrated. Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive sweating (like what may come with a fever), can all lead to rapid dehydration. By refueling with an electrolyte supplement or beverage, you will significantly aid in your recovery.
Can Electrolyte Imbalance Cause Urinary Frequency?
With the many influences of electrolytes on bodily functions, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that electrolytes and urinary frequency are closely related.
As we mentioned above, electrolytes are necessary for waste removal, and also hydration levels. Both of these factors are closely related to our frequency of urination. It follows that the relationship between electrolytes and urinary frequency is somewhat cyclical.
Electrolytes Cause Urinary Changes
Often, an electrolyte imbalance will result from something that causes the body to lose hydration quickly. This could be an illness like we discussed, or an excessive amount of some electrolyte causing the body to flush itself out. For instance, if a person has elevated levels of potassium (one of our electrolyte minerals), a symptom might be excessive urination. The same is true in the case of too much calcium (hypercalcemia), which is another one of our electrolyte minerals. When the body detects too much of any one mineral, it may increase urination frequency to flush it out and get back to normal levels.
Urinary Frequency Causes Electrolyte Changes
Now on the reverse side, changes in urinary frequency can lead to an electrolyte imbalance. An example of this would be in the case of consuming diuretics. A diuretic is something which promotes the formation of urine by the kidney. Diuretics do this by hindering the kidney’s ability to reabsorb sodium, which enhances the loss of that electrolyte. This leads to higher urinary frequency, a loss of electrolytes, and therefore, a loss of hydration. Foods and drinks like parsley, dandelion, green and black tea, alcohol, and caffeine are all natural diuretics (4).
Another instance of liquid loss leading to an electrolyte imbalance could also be a sickness like the stomach flu. With vomiting or diarrhea, the body often loses water at a rapid rate, and is left dehydrated and in need of electrolytes to help the body rehydrate.
So, to answer the question of whether or not an electrolyte imbalance can also cause urinary frequency, the answer is yes. An electrolyte imbalance can lead to a change in urinary frequency, and a change in urinary frequency can cause an electrolyte imbalance. It is a cyclical relationship, and one to be mindful of.
The role of electrolytes is crucial, and there are several ways to get a helpful dose of them!
An Electrolyte Supplement:
Perhaps the easiest way to fuel up your balance of electrolytes, is to take an electrolyte supplement! Like all supplemental nutrients, electrolyte supplements can become a daily part of your routine that will help ensure a healthy baseline of hydration. By pairing a supplement with a health-conscious lifestyle, you can help to ensure proper hydration. With it, you help to ensure proper functioning of many different parts of the body.
Health by Principle provides a great electrolyte supplement, and educational bundle which will help you get started on your supplement journey.
There are many beverages which contain electrolytes, although not all are created equal. Unfortunately, many of the widely-marketed brands like Gatorade and Powerade often contain an unhealthy amount of sugar, or chemicals and sweetener alternatives. While beverages may be a convenient way to fuel up, it is important to select beverages with as little sugar as possible. Otherwise, the health benefit may be outweighed by the health detriment.
A less commonly known electrolyte source is pickle juice! This is one that people will either love or hate, as the salty, tangy, brine of pickle juice is undoubtedly an acquired taste. I happen to love it, and was thrilled to find that there are many health benefits to having a few gulps!
For one thing, pickle juice contains probiotics, which are live microscopic bacteria and yeasts that our guts absolutely love. Gut health is a recent, hot topic among health experts. This is probably because of the recent research on the gut-brain connection. Essentially, the health and bacterial balance of our guts seems to significantly impact the health of our brains. This includes a correlation between gut health and anxiety, depression, overall mood, and even the health of our bodies overall.
Pickle juice also is very rich in sodium. Now you may be thinking “wait, salt is bad for my health!” But, as we previously discussed, sodium is actually one of the very electrolyte minerals that we need! As long as you don’t overdo-it on the gulps of pickle juice and drink the whole jar, you should have a fine balance of healthy sodium to balance out your electrolytes. Everything in moderation.
Pickle juice also contains two other electrolyte-minerals, magnesium and potassium! This is pretty great if you are a pickle juice fan like I am. A few gulps of the good stuff, and you’re that much better off with three whole electrolytes! Additionally, pickle juice can help with your blood sugar regulation, may support weight loss, has disease-fighting antioxidants, and can help cure a hangover!
Researchers recommend choosing a jar of pickles that is vinegar-based, and free of any yellow dye or preservatives. This goes back to the “choose carefully” element of all electrolyte-beverages. Make sure your chosen bottle or jar doesn’t contain more harmful ingredients than helpful ones!
It is also important to note that the recommended daily amount of sodium is no more than 2,300 milligrams each day. Considering that three ounces of pickle juice gives you about 900 milligrams, it may be worthwhile to not rely on this (in my opinion, delicious) option as your daily go-to. Pickle juice is definitely a fun and unique way to boost electrolytes, but it may still be best to choose a supplement if possible (2).
Another tasty way to keep the electrolytes flowing is food! Particularly, electrolyte-rich food. Some of the best foods to provide these helpful hydrators are:
- fish, such as flounder
- canned foods, such as soups and vegetables (obviously not the chemical-filled, excessive sodium kinds)
- olives (3)
Well, I just wrote your grocery list for you. You are welcome!
Truly, these foods are all excellent sources of electrolytes, and other valuable nutrients! If you’re ever at a loss of what healthy foods to add to your fridge or pantry, consider supplementing your hydration with some of these tasty and healthy options.
Electrolytes: The Ultimate Key to Health
Electrolytes are a fundamental key to our health. With their many health impacts, electrolytes are the key to a healthy, hydrated balance. Stay hydrated, friends!
- Electrolyte imbalance: Symptoms, causes and treatment. (2020, June 24). Retrieved from www.medicalnewstoday.com website: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/electrolyte-imbalance#definition
- 6 Health Benefits of Drinking Pickle Juice. (2020, December 31). Retrieved from Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic website: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/6-health-benefits-of-drinking-pickle-juice/
- Whelan, C. (2019, May 13). 25 Foods That Replenish Electrolytes. Retrieved from Healthline website: https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-nutrition/electrolytes-food#food-vs-drink
- Medical Definition of Diuretic. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2021, from RxList website: https://www.rxlist.com/diuretic/definition.htm
- USGS. (2019). The Water in You: Water and the Human Body. Retrieved from Usgs.gov website: https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/water-you-water-and-human-body?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
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