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Are drinking electrolytes more important than water?

Are drinking electrolytes more important than water?

If you’ve ever been dehydrated, you know how important it is to drink enough water. Hydration is essential for feeling our best each day. Being properly hydrated can make a difference in the way we think, sleep, and exercise, all important components of feeling great. 

The question is: Is drinking water enough? Some studies have shown that drinking too much water may actually negatively affect your health. It seems that nowadays some health experts are more interested in the balance of water intake and electrolyte intake to ensure hydration throughout the day. [1]

What are electrolytes? 

Electrolytes are essential minerals found in your blood, sweat, and urine. These minerals dissolve in fluid and create positive or negative ions that are used in metabolic processes. These ions are electrolytes.

Electrolytes are involved in many essential functions of your body including muscle contraction, nervous impulse control, and regulating your body’s pH levels. 

Some of the electrolytes found in your body are: 

  • Potassium
  • Chloride
  • Calcium
  • Sodium
  • Magnesium 

Is overhydration real? 

It’s standard knowledge that we should be drinking around 8 glasses of water per day. However, some more recent studies have suggested that may not necessarily be the case. [2]

Have you seen fitness lovers carrying around those giant water bottles? It can be pretty easy to be influenced to go out and buy one. However, most people do not really need to be drinking a gallon of water per day. 

Thirst is a signal from our brain that lets us know we need to hydrate. It is the result of your body measuring your blood volume. When you need more fluids in your blood, your brain signals you to drink water. If you are consuming water when you’re not thirsty, your blood electrolyte level may become diluted - especially your sodium levels. 

How does thirst affect our bodies? 

Our bodies are super sensitive to small changes in fluid balance for a few reasons. First, our cells have a special setup that relies on the right mix of ions. When the balance gets thrown off, it messes with how our cells work.

Second, our blood carries important stuff like oxygen all around our bodies. If our blood volume drops, our body has to work extra hard to keep things flowing smoothly. To keep everything in check, our body has special sensors that monitor our fluid levels and trigger responses to keep things balanced.

These responses usually involve our kidneys, which help regulate how much water and salt we lose. But our kidneys can only do so much, so we also need to drink water to make sure we stay balanced, especially since we're always losing water through things like sweat and urine. [3]

How to increase your electrolytes

Increasing your electrolyte intake isn’t as challenging as it may sound. Nowadays, there are plenty of electrolyte powders that you can simply mix into your water to boost the balance that your body needs. 

Other than that, the best way to consume and retain electrolytes is through a healthy diet. Foods that provide electrolytes include:

  • Pickled foods
  • Table salt 
  • Cheese
  • Seeds and nuts 
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potato
  • Bananas

A well-balanced diet typically includes the proper amount of electrolytes you need each day. However, if you’ve been depleting electrolytes quickly through extreme exercise or illness, you may consider increasing your electrolyte intake with an electrolyte drink mix. 


Did you find this article helpful? Join our community for more wellness tips, healthy recipes, how-to videos, yoga and exercise tutorials, and exclusive content created by the Primal Harvest tribe. 



1. Popkin BM, D'Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health. Nutr Rev. 2010 Aug;68(8):439-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x. PMID: 20646222; PMCID: PMC2908954.

2. Lindeman RD, Romero LJ, Liang HC, Baumgartner RN, Koehler KM, Garry PJ. Do elderly persons need to be encouraged to drink more fluids? J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2000 Jul;55(7):M361-5. doi: 10.1093/gerona/55.7.m361. PMID: 10898251.

3. Leib DE, Zimmerman CA, Knight ZA. Thirst. Curr Biol. 2016 Dec 19;26(24):R1260-R1265. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.11.019. PMID: 27997832; PMCID: PMC5957508.

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