Why just water won’t hydrate you!

We are all experiencing very hot weather, for some sadly a fever, anxiety and others tummy bugs! As humans, sweating is our bodies way of trying to regulate our temperature to cool ourselves down. When we sweat we loose water and electrolytes. When we have a tummy bug we also loose water and electrolytes.

To rehydrate in hot weather, when you have a fever or or tummy bug it is vital to include electrolytes in your drink. Electrolytes help balance the amount of water you have in your body. Just drinking lots of water doesn’t hydrate you, and you can end up drinking too much water! Electrolytes include sodium and potassium. Sodium helps with osmosis the process of drawing water across the cell membrane to help rebalance water in the body.

The best ways to keep yourselves and loved ones rehydrated are to drink:

  • Milk
  • Coconut water
  • An isotonic sports drink
  • Make your own isotonic drink = 1/4 teaspoon salt or Himalayan salt + 1 part squash or 2 parts fruit juice and mix in bottle of 500ml- 1litre
  • electrolyte sachets

Glucose (sugar) in squash and fruit juice along with sodium (salt) is required in small quantities to help restore hydration.

Signs of dehydration include:

  • headaches
  • confusion
  • feeling thirsty
  • dark coloured urine or not passing urine
  • feeling tired
  • dry mouth
  • clammy skin

  • Dehydration is a serious thing in this heat or if you are unwell. If you are not passing urine, or have elderly relatives or young children who are drowsy, not passing urine and breathing fast medical advice should be sought quickly.
  • As a physiologist for the past 14 years I have guided both sports people and people of all ages on the importance of staying hydrated for health and wellbeing. Being dehydrated increases the risk of anxiety and depression. Severe dehydration is life threatening and medical advice should be sought quickly.

    Look to avoid alcohol as this act as diuretic and cause the body to loose more water and increase the risk of dehydration. Ideally you should aim to drink 2 litres of water a day to avoid dehydration. If you are drinking more than this, feel thirsty or tired then you need to include the electrolyte in your drinks.

    Being dehydrated affects what you want to eat and you may notice you crave salty foods. Salty foods have too high a concentration of sodium (salt) and will add to you wanting to drink more water. Too much salt raises blood pressure, whilst being dehydrated for prolonged periods of time affects kidney function and can raise or lowers blood pressure and affects the hearts normal functioning. You may crave sweet foods as being dehydrated affects the liver releasing stored glucose (glycogen). Listen and take notice of what your body is telling you in the heat or if you have been unwell. Your body is very clever at giving you signals to try and find the correct balance internally. It is important to be mindful of pausing and checking how you feel, take notice of how much you have had to drink and whether you need to modify your fluid intake to improve your wellbeing.

    Take care of yourself and your loved ones and look out for the signs of dehydration and look to restore the water balance, remembering you may need more than just water!

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