Hydration is an integral yet often overlooked aspect of health. Before taking into account a strict diet and physical activity, having sufficient hydration should also be on your health priority list. The human body is made up of roughly 60% water, and the cells, tissues, and organs in the human body rely on water for optimal function. While humans can last more than a month without food, dehydration can kill anyone as early as eight days.
Dehydration: Causes and Symptoms
By losing more fluid than you normally take in, and not replenishing enough, you can be dehydrated. As the normal water content in your body diminishes, it will disrupt the balance of minerals in your body, thus affecting your body’s function. Dehydration can be caused by a plethora of conditions and activities, to name a few:
- Extreme exercise without fluid intake
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Exposure to too much heat
- Exposure to high altitudes, such as hiking and air travel
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Frequent urination
Most of the symptoms of dehydration can be easily noticed by an individual, such as thirst and darker urine. If you’re experiencing decreased urination with a darker urine color, it’s an obvious sign that you’re dehydrated. Other symptoms may include dizziness, dry mouth, bad breath, headache, and lethargy.
Ways to deal with dehydration
Fortunately, some effects of dehydration can be reversed through proper replenishment. It’s crucial to combat your dehydration immediately to prevent it from escalating to severe dehydration. Check out these easy ways of dealing with dehydration:
Take oral rehydration salts (ORS)
The fluids in your body aren’t entirely made up of water. They also contain electrolytes which contain a set of charged minerals like potassium, magnesium, sodium, phosphate, calcium, and chloride. As you become dehydrated, the water and electrolyte levels in your body significantly decreases. Since drinking water is insufficient to replenish these lost fluids, you’ll need a more powerful hydrating agent like oral rehydration salts (ORS).
Compared to commercial electrolyte drinks, ORS provides the fastest rehydration relief for people experiencing mild to moderate dehydration. Taking ORS is ideal for people who require immediate rehydration, especially, firefighters, hospitalized patients, and children in humanitarian crises.
Take note that consuming sports drinks, which are also marketed for rehydration, can be less effective as a hydration solution. This is because some of these drinks and mixes contain other ingredients that aren’t meant to address dehydration, and their electrolyte content don’t exist in precise amounts.
Drink water at regular intervals
Drinking water to combat dehydration comes as no surprise, yet many individuals still neglect to drink water due to numerous reasons. Some people say that they’re not thirsty. Some don’t feel like drinking water, or they forget to drink water. Some even say they don’t like the taste of water, and other reasons that keep them regularly drinking water. However, people should prioritize drinking water regularly, particularly if they’re experiencing dehydration. Drinking water is the no-brainer and cheapest rehydration solution.
Through drinking enough water at regular intervals, you can achieve the following potential health benefits:
- Increases energy levels and brain function
- Maximizes physical performance
- Relieves constipation
- Prevents and treats headaches
- Prevents hangovers
Moreover, there are many types of drinking water that you can consume, which will boil down to your preference. As long as your drinking water is clean, safe, and uncontaminated, you’re good to go.
Consume water-abundant fruits and vegetables
Aside from water and oral rehydration salts, fruits, and vegetables are excellent sources of water and minerals that can be supplied to your body. When choosing fruits and vegetables for rehydration, make sure that they’re composed of a large percentage of water. Some of the best fruits and vegetables to try are:
- Cucumbers: 96% water
- Tomatoes: 95% water
- Spinach: 93% water
- Mushrooms: 92% water
- Melons: 91% water
- Broccoli: 90% water
- Brussel sprouts: 88% water
- Oranges: 86% water
- Apples: 85% water
- Blueberries: 84% water
Along with their outstanding water content, these fruits and vegetables also contribute essential nutrients, fibers, and sugars into your diet. Munching on fruits is perfect for rehydrating after an intense workout, as they contain sugar for replenishing glycogen levels for energy.
Relocate into a cooler place
While summer is an anticipated season for leisure and outdoor activities, the heat poses a great risk for dehydration and heat exhaustion. As your body fluids are depleted when you experience dehydration, extreme exposure to heat or the sun can escalate the situation to heat exhaustion. Being the worst case scenario, extreme heat and sun exposure for extended periods can result in heat stroke.
If you’re experiencing dehydration brought by the hot and humid environment, it would be best to transfer to a cooler place while rehydrating yourself, such as staying under the shade or going indoors in a well-ventilated area. Going straight into an air-conditioned room after outdoor heat exposure, and vice versa, is a big no no, as it can make your dehydration and heat exhaustion worse.
Although most people love the sun and heat exposure after experiencing long days of winter, it’s important to know your limits and prioritise staying cool this summer.
Eat salty food
They say that you should consume salty food when you’re dehydrated because they’re dry and they’re unpleasant to the taste. However, contrary to that belief, salty food are actually a great dehydration solution. Snacking on salty foods like pretzels, chips, and peanuts can help in regulating water levels in your body due to its sodium content. But, don’t eat too much salty food as they can reverse the effect.
Also, it’s a well-known fact that your brain recognizes thirst when the water and salt levels in your body becomes unbalanced. Through munching on these salt-rich foods, they can trigger your brain to generate a feeling of thirst, and commands yourself to replenish, even long before the salt reaches your bloodstream and stomach.
Use as little energy as possible
Dehydration can also be triggered by too much physical activity as it encourages your body to sweat more. Therefore, if you’re experiencing dehydration, one way to combat it alongside these other tips is to take a rest and use as little energy as possible. During dehydration, you’ll experience weaker muscles and a drop in your energy levels, so you would want to make sure to use less energy remaining in your body.
Dehydration, at first glance, seems like a simple problem that can be solved by easy methods discussed in this article. However, if people don’t pay enough attention to fluid levels in their body, dehydration can take a greater toll on their health. Through staying hydrated sufficiently with water and a water-rich diet, you can fuel your body to work on its best condition.