Importance of Hydration & Rehydration
Written by William Fryer - MA Oxon
Everything you ever wanted to know about Hydration, Rehydration and Dehydration
Water is important for overall health. Rehydration means having enough water for your body to function normally. If you do not have enough water your kidneys get under stress and you can suffer an Acute Kidney Injury which can lead to permanent kidney damage and death.
Rehydration prevents dehydration, which occurs as a result of during breathing, sweating and excretion. Your body makes use of a combination of eating and drinking to remain sufficiently rehydrated.
Rehydration is important for optimal athletic performance. Water distillers eliminate contaminants in water and keep the body free of water-borne diseases. They are easy to use and the only way to create absolutely pure water. It is also a lot cheaper than bottled water.
When you feel thirsty, your body indicates that it needs rehydration. Dehydration makes your muscles fatigued. You may experience a lack of coordination and muscle cramps. Dehydration means your body may also lose its ability to cool itself during physical work or sports. Consequently, the body may undergo heat exhaustion or stress.
Studies have shown that drinking two glasses of water at the start of a meal can help people lose weight. Although this may simply be to do with the water filling the stomach rather than any digestive reason.
Pregnant women and new mothers are encouraged to stay rehydrated if they want to have healthy bodies and babies. Rehydration enables the body organs of the mother and child to function to an optimum level. Pregnant women also experience less constipation when they drink plenty of water.
Rehydration can assist with preventing or mitigating the effects of such health conditions as bladder infection, kidney stones, vomiting and diarrhea. Rehydration enables your body to recover the water lost through excessive bleeding as well.
A simple way to know whether your body needs rehydration is looking at the color of your urine. If your urine appears too concentrated, it may indicate dehydration.
Drink more water and stay healthy.
Each Summer, many of us like to head outside to play sports, catch a tan, swim or take a hike. When you’re having fun in the sun, keep an eye on your water intake, otherwise you face the threat of dehydration.
Image by FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is the effect on your body when it loses more fluid than it takes in. This can upset the balance of minerals (salts and sugars) within your body which can have serious repercussions. Those minerals are needed to keep your body functioning normally and healthily. About three quarters of your body is made up of water and it plays a big part in the proper functioning of your body by lubricating joints, aiding digestion, flushing out toxins and keeping your skin healthy. Plus your blood is mainly water - when you dehydrate your blood becomes stickier and it is harder for the heart to pump.
What causes dehydration?
Dehydration is much more of a threat in the summer, as hot temperatures cause us to sweat in order to lower our body temperature. However, this water needs replacing and if you do not drink at least as much water as you are losing, you will start to dehydrate. Higher levels of activity, such as playing sports or running in the summer also mean that our bodies are losing more water, but diet also plays a part too. You can also become dehydrated when you are ill or after drinking alcohol, which will make you feel a lot worse so be sure to refill those water supplies!
What are the symptoms of dehydration?
When you start to become dehydrated, your body is going to let you know about it. These symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on how much fluid your body has lost. Here are a few tell-tale signs that you may be suffering from dehydration:
· Feeling very thirsty, with a dry mouth, lips or eyes
· Dark coloured urine
· Infrequent urinating, passing only a small amount each time
· Tiredness and light-headedness
· A loss of strength and stamina
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may well be suffering from dehydration. It is wise to tackle the problem sooner rather than later, before severe dehydration kicks in which can cause more serious problems such as fits, confusion and even death.
What to do if you become dehydrated this summer?
Fortunately there is a very easy solution to prevent and reverse the effects of dehydration; simply drink more fluids! Drink more water and possibly mix it with a fruit juice and a salty snack to replace the lost sugars and salts. You could also purchase oral rehydration solutions to mix with your drink, which are especially helpful when a large amount of fluids have been lost due to illness such as diarrhoea. It is suggested that adults drink around two litres of water on an average day.
Without water, we die, quickly, dehydration is far worse than from starvation. Water is probably the single most important substance in our bodies. We are around ¾ water, it is in our blood and most of our cells, it transmits nutrients round the body and helps flush the bad stuff away.
We lose water through sweat and through our urine and it is important that we replace it.
Thirst is, in fact, a lagging indicator. It is like an emergency signal to our body that only kicks in when we have lost around 5% of our body’s water. If you feel you are already drinking plenty of fluids and are still regularly getting thirsty it may be worth investigating this with your doctor.
None of us are the same and different conditions call for different measures. Our size, and the amount of exercise we take all affect the amount of water we need to take on board.
How much should we drink? (Generally speaking)
The UK’s Department of Health has recommended – as a guide – a daily intake of 1-2 litres of fluid.
This fluid is supplemented with water contained in the food we eat. Like us, plants and animals are mostly made up of water and we usually get quite a lot of liquid from our foods.
Dehydration can make us unwell. Thirst is a danger sign, as are headaches, faintness, lethargy and dark urine (our urine should be a pale yellow).
The Department of Health guidelines come down unequivocally in favour of water as the best thirst quencher. Milk comes next, but can make us fat, and fruit juices are high in sugar and should be restricted to meal time drinking. You can read more about the healthiest drinks here.
Water has no calories, no sugar, no fat – in fact, if you use a water distiller it won’t add to your waistline, rot your teeth or make you feel jittery.
As a rule, we should all be drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day. More (often much more) if exercising or it's a hot day.
For a precise measure of hydration, you can take your weight in Kg x 30ml. This equation gives a precise figure based on your size and is what doctors use to calculate fluid needs.