Dehydration – Watch out!

With summer here, the mercury has been steadily rising. It is of utmost importance to ensure that we don’t get dehydrated. Dehydration is the excessive loss of body water, with an accompanying disruption of metabolic processes. Dehydration occurs when water loss exceeds water intake, usually due to exercise or disease leading to a buildup of salts in the body. Most people can tolerate a three to four percent decrease in body water without difficulty. A five to eight percent decrease can cause fatigue and dizziness. Over ten percent can cause physical and mental deterioration, accompanied by severe thirst. A decrease more than fifteen to twenty-five percent of the body water is invariably fatal. Mild dehydration is characterized by thirst and general discomfort and usually resolves with oral rehydration.

With 2/3 of our body being made up of water, the need for staying hydrated need not be further emphasized.

Let us look at why we lose water from the body.

  1. When we are exposed to excessive heat or we exercise or indulge in tough physical activity, we tend to perspire. This perspiration is a way for the body to cool itself down and lose toxins and heavy metals.
  2. Sugar can dehydrate the body by sucking the oxygen out of the blood.
  3. Caffeine  found in coffee, soda  and energy drinks acts as a diuretic and sucks water from the body tissues leaving the body with chronic dehydration
  4. Alcoholic drinks like beer and wine also have a diuretic quality and make your body dehydrated

So what are the ways we can keep ourselves hydrated?

  1. Make drinking water a mindless habit. Start your day with a glass of water and keep a large bottle with you and sip on it throughout the day. Don’t wait till you feel thirsty because by the time your mouth is dry, you’re on your way to dehydration. For those who don’t like the taste of water, flavoring the water naturally with fruits and vegetables like cucumber, lime, lemon water or strawberry kiwi water helps.
  2. Eat water based foods – It contributes to healthy hydration levels. Melons like watermelon, honey melon and cantaloupe are cooling and perfect for hot weather and are also loaded with Vitamins and minerals. Munch on cucumbers and tomatoes. They help us put the potassium back and also have compounds that keep us hydrated.
  3. Citrus fruits like lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange not only keep us hydrated but also provide valuable nutrients.
  4. Enjoy green tea with lemon, herbal ice teas are also great thirst quenchers.
  5. Enjoy the wonderful tender coconut water. It hydrates perfectly and has the exact proportion of electrolytes as the human cell and plasma. It also contains vitamins and minerals.
  6. Smoothies – A chilled mixed fruit and vegetable smoothie is such a great thirst quenching drink on a hot summer day.
  7. Making popsicles from smoothies or whole fruits is a great way of making sure little kids stay hydrated in the summer months.
  8. Adults should consume atleast 8-9 cups of water per day depending on the activity level.

Remember the amount of fluid intake one needs to have depends on the season, outdoor temperature and also the level of physical activity undertaken but do keep yourself well hydrated.