Avoiding dehydration and stay sufficiently hydrated is vitally important no matter what we are doing, even if we are just sitting quietly working at a desk. This is because our bodies constantly lose fluid. The more active we are the more fluid we lose and if we are in a very hot or dry environment the risks of dehydration are much higher. So, no matter what we are doing replenishing lost fluid is tantamount to remaining healthy. During exercise, if we have insufficient fluid in the body it can lead to serious problems. Our performance is greatly affected and the heart is put under pressure. Athletes are advised to drink plenty of fluids well before taking part in an event and the same applies to anyone taking up exercise. It’s even important to keep hydrated the day before training.
What Are The Symptoms of Dehydration?
- Thirst – our brains trigger us to know when we need to drink.
- Dark urine. Urine should be very pale yellow (rather than clear).
- Lack of energy and fatigue.
- In extreme cases muscle spasms, convulsions and nausea.
As well as drinking enough for day to day living, working out and athletic performance, our bodies needs to stay extra-hydrated for other activities, for example air travel. It’s not just altitude which dehydrates the body of its fluid, alcohol acts as a diuretic too and when we drink a glass or wine or spirits we should all remember the impact on our natural hydration levels.
In this article we explore why being properly hydrated is so important and what happens when our bodies are not getting enough fluid. We will look at sports hydration, travel hydration and the effects of alcohol on your hydration.
Why Our Bodies Need Fluid
Did you know that our body weight is made up of 2/3 of water and this water is used for many different functions? At a glance, water aids digestion, temperature regulation and supports the heart. It also carries nutrients to our cells and promotes healthy blood flow. Water is responsible for helping our bodies to get rid of waste and toxins. Generally, our bodies are good at triggering our brains in telling us when we need to drink but it is up to us all to monitor how much we take in as well as keep an eye on how much we lose. Common sense tells us all that the more we exercise, the harder our bodies work so it makes sense to compensate and drink more fluid. If we don’t have enough fluid in our bodies we dehydrate and even slight dehydration affects performance, bringing on fatigue and lethargy.
Our bodies lose fluid every day, throughout every second. Just by breathing we lose fluid, everyone naturally perspires and of course we all lose fluid when we go to the toilet. It’s up to us to replenish fluid by drinking water and adding an O.R.S hydration tablet replaces lost electrolytes, glucose and minerals, naturally rehydrating.
How Much Should We Drink?
Without taking exercise, adult males should drink 3 litres of water a day and women just over 2 litres a day. With exercise, this amount should increase by 500 ml per half hour of intense exercise. Water helps to improve sports performance. Drinking alcohol, being in a hot country and travelling by air are all other instances where water intake should be increased.
Drinking water is paramount when exercising and for athletes to stay hydrated. Not only does it keep our energy levels up, it helps to reduce the pressure on the heart and also lubricates our joints. As well as drinking the recommended daily amount of water, when exercising this amount should be sufficiently topped up to make up for what is lost when we sweat.
Working out for a long period of time or taking an intense challenge means we need much more electrolytes and water is not enough. There is additional risk from dehydration in exercise called hyponatremia which is caused by low sodium and we lose salt when we sweat. This is why many athletes drink add O.R.S tablets to their water, because it helps to replace lost sodium, electrolytes, minerals and glucose. It also helps to improve athletic performance. Even when exercise is complete, (whether light, moderate or intense), fluid intake must still be topped up. Sodium keeps blood pressure balanced but it’s also responsible for muscles and nerves to work to their optimum. When sodium drops, the fluid in the body replaces it causing the body’s cells to swell. This can lead to confusion, exhaustion, vomiting, convulsions, muscle spasm, headaches and more.
We are all advised to stay hydrated when travelling by air and all of us should definitely take steps to make sure we up our fluid intake on a plane, before travel, during and after landing. Did you know that as soon as an airplane’s doors are shut, the humidity in the air falls to only 20%? In general, we are all used to approximately 50% humidity so it’s a big drop and causes dehydration. This drop in humidity levels causes skin, throat and eyes to dry out, as well as general dehydration inside our bodies so it’s important to drink water when flying. Adding a hydrating tablet to water replenishes lost minerals, electrolytes, sodium and glucose too. An O.R.S tablet helps our bodies to feel sufficiently hydrated and stops skin, eyes and throat from feeling parched. It’s best to avoid drinking any alcohol on an airplane because of its diuretic properties. For those of us who insist on having an alcoholic beverage, compensate by drinking a glass of water straight afterwards. Similarly, tea and coffee both act as diuretics so avoid these and instead drink water with O.R.S travel tablets!
Travel hydration extends to our destination particularly if travelling to somewhere hot and sunny or humid. Water is important for temperature regulation and holiday hydration. In the heat, our brains automatically trigger the feeling of thirst to remind us to drink and while it’s tempting to reach for a fizzy, caffeinated or sugary drink the best thing to do is sip water, regularly. Always have a bottle of water close by, in heat we all sweat much more and this is lost fluid so it needs to be replaced. Sometimes we feel a headache or become dizzy when out in the sun and it’s because of dehydration.
Before going out into the sun it’s wise to drink water so the body is already armed, adding an O.R.S tablet will ensure the body has a good balance of what it needs to stay hydrated. All of us should drink water all day to stay healthy. We should also avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks because they act as a diuretic stripping our bodies of much-needed fluid.
Alcohol should always be consumed in limited quantities; this is of course because in excess, it is dangerous, harming our livers, kidneys and causing confusion, fatigue and impaired concentration. However, let’s face it – most of us adults do like to drink an alcoholic beverage every now and again and many special occasions are celebrated with a glass of bubbly, so what can be done to combat dehydration from alcohol and the dreaded hangover?
Never go over the recommended limit. The UK government guidelines state no more than 14 units per week for men and women (drinkaware.co.uk). Alcohol acts as a diuretic because it removes water from our bodies; it does this by inhibiting a hormone called ADH (anti-diuretic hormone). Drinking alcohol makes us go to the toilet much more and as well as getting rid of fluid, we lose salt. This is why when we drink too much alcohol the night before, we wake up feeling hungover. A hangover means we more than likely have a bad headache, our mouths feel dry and we feel extremely tired. This is because the alcohol has stripped our bodies of water, glucose and electrolytes. Dehydration leads to headache, dizziness and nausea.
The best thing to do is to drink plenty of water before drinking alcohol and again before going to bed add an O.R.S tablet to a glass of water so the body is armed with electrolytes, glucose and fluid to fight the hangover. This makes sure the body is sufficiently hydrated. Another good idea is to alternate drinking alcohol with a glass of water because this balances out the two.
For more advice on hydration contact O.R.S here.
If you are interested in O.R.S Hydration Tablets, please visit our product pages which features our state of the art hydration tablets. They come in tubes of 12s and 24 with strawberry, blackcurrant or lemon taste. Boxes of 6 tubes with 12 or 24 tablets are also available in all three tastes.
What life takes out, O.R.S puts back in!