Bananas have always been lauded as an excellent source of potassium and rightly so because potassium is one of the most vital minerals in our body which plays very important roles. It helps with fluid regulation, muscle contraction and maintaining mineral balance.
Even more interesting, potassium minimizes the detrimental effects of excessive consumption of sodium, which is a problem most modern people have. In the US, for example, an average adult consumes 3,500 mg of salt a day, which is about 50% more than the usually recommended upper limit of around 2,400 mg. A diet that is rich in potassium helps your body get rid of the excess sodium.
What’s more, potassium also helps your blood vessel walls to relax thus lowering your blood pressure. Simply by increasing your consumption of potassium and decreasing sodium consumption you can minimize your risk of stroke by 20% and you can also lower the risk of heart disease.
If you get a lot of your calories from foods contained in a box or a bag, it is very likely that your potassium consumption is low. Try eating more vegetables and whole fruits. This will get you to the target of 4,600 mg of potassium per day a lot easier and a lot faster, which is the amount that is recommended by nutrition experts.
What causes low potassium ?
Although potassium is ingested with the food we eat, our diet (or malnutrition) is rarely the cause of low levels of this mineral. There are a number of possible causes, and these include:
– Too much alcohol
– Vomiting and diarrhea
– Excessive Sweating
– Taking certain antibiotics
– Kidney disease
– Inflammatory bowel disease
Visiting your doctor is also a good idea if you are experiencing the following symptoms, which is most definitely a sign that you need more potassium in your diet:
1. You feel tired all the time
If you are chronically tired, can’t seem to relax and are low on energy, there is a chance that your diet is deficient in potassium. In order to properly function, every cell in the body needs the right potassium amount.
If you have been feeling exhausted for prolonged time, while still having enough sleep, it might be due to potassium deficiency. Of course, you shouldn’t immediately assume it’s potassium deficiency if you are having preexisting issues with your stress levels, diet or are deprived of sleep.
2. Your muscles are weak or you have cramps
Potassium is essential to enabling smooth contraction of the muscles, both for the skeletal muscles, as well as for the heart muscle. That’s why when potassium levels are low, you are prone to have aches and spasms happening throughout the day or when training.
3. You experience faintness or dizziness
Potassium levels can fluctuate throughout the day, going up and down all the time, and a large drop can slow down your heartbeat which can make you feel dizzy and feel like you’re going to faint.
However, since this is not so common, you should not exclude many other factors which might be the reason, but nonetheless, you should immediately see your doctor if you experience the above. A tingling feeling in your legs or arms is another symptom that should make you see your doctor.
4. You have palpitations or high blood pressure
When your potassium levels are low, the walls of your blood vessels might become constricted which in turn causes hypertension. You should also be on the lookout for heart palpitations. The heart muscle finds it a lot harder to pump blood when the levels of potassium and sodium are out of balance.
5. You are bloated most of the time
When a person is low on potassium, the body is struggling to regulate the levels of sodium which can cause bloating induced by the excess salt.