Potassium – The mineral you need more than you know

There are certain minerals, which if you fall deficient in, can cause an alarming number of issues. Midafternoon drowsiness, fluid retention, fatigue, heavy legs after a walk up the stairs, heart palpitations are all symptoms of a deficiency on Potassium. If you picture your body as the periodic table, then potassium is the most significant element in it. It is a critical body mineral which helps in charging your cells and providing a smooth surge of energy through them

How it helps

Sodium and potassium are two minerals that run the cellular and electrical function of your body. There is something called the sodium-potassium pump which forms a whole enzyme on the surface of your cells. The human body has about 800,000 to 3,000,000 of these tiny pumps. These are basically generators that allow electricity to go through the cells and provide energy to the body. In fact, one-third of all the food we consume during the day goes into running these pumps.

1) Potassium is a mineral that is highly effective in supporting this cellular charge and hence your body needs it in large amounts.

2) These pumps pups are also present in your stomach, as they form important acids which help in digestion.

3) They are also present in your muscles as they control the transport of calcium in the body which helps to contract and relax them. A deficiency in potassium will result in muscle cramps.

4) 60% of your caloric intake or energy goes into the formation of these pumps. This is because the pumps are critically important in exchanging nutrition like glucose and amino acids, chlorides and other minerals in the body.

5) It regulates water and acid-base balance in your blood and tissues.

How much do you need?

Among all the minerals your body requires, including magnesium, sodium, calcium and chloride, potassium is one you need in very large quantities. An averagely built person needs around 4700mg to 6000mg of potassium per day. Which is why consuming it in the form of pills will not help you. This is because each of those pills only contain 40mg which is too less
The best source of potassium is vegetables, especially leafy greens like kale, spinach, avocado and other cruciferous vegetables. You can also get the required amount through potassium-rich fruits like bananas, but since they are high in sugar, people suffering from insulin resistance should stick to vegetables only.
These veggies are an excellent source of carbohydrates as well since they are also rich in fibre and hence are known as the ‘good carbs’.

The other important mineral

Lots of doctors tell us to avoid salt, which is ture since nowadays salt is present in most of our foods. MGS is monosodium glutamate which is basically hidden salt, found in most Chinese dishes. Sodium and potassium are two mineral which goes hand in hand. They must be consumed in a balance which most people are unaware of. Your body needs about 1000mg of sodium and 4700mg of potassium. But the case is reversed! People end up having more foods rich in sodium whereas they hardly have any vegetables throughout the day. This, in turn, causes a lot of problems like swelling of the feet, high blood pressure, dehydration, muscle weakness, etc.

Lifestyle and nutrition

Have you ever considered what your body wants at the end of the day? Pizza or a plate of fried chicken is tempting after a hard day’s work. But if you were made aware of how the body works, you would most certainly try to make smarter choices.

With the introduction of street food, deliciousness is the central motivator which has helped restaurant owners boost their business. If the food smells fresh and it tasty enough, no holds are barred. His attitude has encouraged the addition of MSG and other hidden salts and sugars. Chocolate chips, wafers, ice cream, pancakes, waffles, sweet treats and other fatty foods are some of the meals people swear by on a daily basis. The consumption of sugar in India has been growing rapidly. With the inclusion of famous chains like Mc Donald’s, Starbucks, Dunkin donuts and the like, people are inching toward a more American way of life. What they refuse to be aware about is the risk they put themselves in if they make these hobbies and daily affair. Present day US is rampant in empty calories and false nutrition and hence is not an idol when it comes to the diet of the common man.

 What to eat and what not to eat

1)      No – Too much sugar makes your body deficient in potassium, hence people suffering from blood sugar or insulin resistance should avoid anything sweet, like cold drinks, cookies, even fruits which are high in fructose.

2)      No – MSG is a serious nutrient blocker and negates the absorption of minerals in the body. Reduce your visits to restaurants which could be serving food laced with MSG.

3)      No – Alcohol is in all sense a legal poison which when consumed can block all nutrient absorption for the next 48 to 72 hours sometimes more. It also makes you dehydrated and fatigued for the next few days.

4)      Yes – Eat lots of vegetables rich in potassium and limit your salt intake. Try to consume salt through homemade dishes and avoid fast foods as they are laced with hidden salts.

5)      Yes – If you start consuming more vegetables like kale and spinach, start adding lemons to your diet. These vegetables can cause calcium to be absorbed in your kidneys. This could lead to kidney stones. Adding lemons to your diet can help prevent and even dissolve stones.

6)      Yes – Have avocados! Add it your eggs or make a green shake with vegetables. Avocados are a rich source of potassium and are a healthy source of fat.

7)      Yes – Eating 4700mg of vegetables can be a daunting task. Don’t turn to pills! Instead go for concentrated source of wheatgrass or other vegetable in a powder form.

 In conclusion

A lot of times when we the doctor tells you to avoid consuming something, always ask if you should start taking something else to balance your minerals. Often people drastically reduce their salt intake and end up with low blood pressure, nausea and fatigue. If done over a long period of time this can be dangerous. Potassium is a mineral which helps to balance nutrients in the body. So add more to your diet and feel lighter and healthier as you make smart eating choices.



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