BEST REHYDRATION METHODS
Every once in a while we find ourselves dehydrated. It is in such times that we should know how to rehydrate ourselves. Since 70% of the human body is made up of water, naturally it needs water to survive, even more than it needs food. There are many rehydration products and treatments that you can use. What are the best rehydration methods? There’s no one right answer. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective rehydration treatments.
Obviously, drinking water is the best of all hydration drinks if you have a regular intake and you’re not working out or sweating a lot. Not only does it not contain any calories but it helps your skin rejuvenate and is also crucial for your muscle health.
That being said, water might not always work if a person is dehydrated, though it is the best place to start. For one, you should not gulp down glass after glass of water. If you drink water too fast, your body will not be able to absorb and use it effectively, causing your kidneys to expel most of it. And, this means you will have to make multiple trips to the restroom, even if you haven’t had much water to drink.
Frequent urination inhibits the process of rehydration, compromising the purpose for which you were drinking water in the first place. So, to put it simply, drink 1 or 2 glasses of water, taking small sips initially. The best part is you can carry it around easily, and rest assured, no one will pick on you for drinking ‘too much water’. If plain water isn’t your thing, you can add a dose of sugar or salt.
WATER WITH SALT / SUGAR
Loss of water from the body also means loss of essential nutrients and minerals. This can affect your blood sugar and might even lead to certain health problems. However, if plain water doesn’t suit your taste buds, you can add some sugar or salt to it.
This might help make the water easier to consume and at the same time, perk up the sugar and sodium levels in your blood, also providing other minerals to your body. Moreover, your hydration levels will be restored without much hassle if you drink water with sugar or salt.
FOOD/WATER WITH ELECTROLYTES
Electrolytes in the bloodstream are responsible for regulating and stabilising your blood pressure level and also for maintaining optimal fluid balance within the body. Dehydration, more often than not, depletes the body of electrolytes, which can prove harmful over time.
Every time you engage in strenuous physical activity, it is a given that you will lose electrolytes through perspiration. Therefore, compensating for the loss is extremely important. There are numerous electrolytes your body needs, the foremost being sodium. As you would know, water is a foremost source of sodium.
Hence, drinking water with electrolytes is perhaps the best rehydration method. Once the electrolyte levels are restored, you will have more energy and your system can go about restoring the hydration levels as well.
Another important electrolyte is potassium, which you can easily get through fruits and vegetables which are rich in water. In other words, you can eat foods which are rich in electrolytes along with drinking electrolyte-rich rehydration beverages. In fact, experts recommend combining food and water for rehydration to achieve the desired results.
To ease the process for you, here’s a look at some foods which have high water content:
Fruit juices and sports drinks
Carrying on from the previous section, sports drinks are an effective option for rehydration. In fact, they can almost be referred to as rehydration products, given that they have high electrolyte content. Drinking sports drinks will not only hydrate your body but will also ensure that your body retains the fluids you are consuming. This proves more effective when it comes to rehydration and can be a useful treatment for dehydration. The best part is you can easily find sugar-free alternatives to sports drinks, the foremost among them being coconut water.
Of course, with a plethora of sports drinks available on the market, it might be a tad difficult for you to choose the right one. As a guideline, you should check the label. Any sports drink which contains at least 20 mmol per liter of sodium is a good choice.
ORAL REHYDRATION SALTS (ORAL REHYDRATION SALTS)
One of the best known rehydration products are oral rehydration salts, commonly referred to as ORS. They are available in the form of a tablet which dissolves in water. The tablet is made up of electrolytes, glucose and the minerals your body needs for rehydration. When combined with water, this formula restores your body’s hydration levels.
It is a good idea to keep ORS on hand at home, as it can be used by people of all ages. As long as you need some hydrating, just drop a tablet in one liter of water and then keep drinking throughout the day. It’s also vegan-friendly.
ORS is an excellent rehydration treatment that can be used by different people for different purposes. For instance, you can use it after playing a sport or when you’re traveling. ORS is also used to counter dehydration caused by diarrhea or vomiting.
Homemade ORS – A Word of Caution
You do need to be careful when it comes to preparing ORS at home. According to the World Health Organization (ORS), you have to mix one teaspoon of salt or six teaspoons of sugar in one liter of water for homemade ORS.
However, WHO usually doesn’t recommend using homemade rehydration product since the process to make them is easily forgotten. An ORS available from the market will also be more reliable than a homemade rehydration beverage.
AVOID ALCOHOL AND EXCESSIVE CAFFEINE
Now moving on to things you don’t need to do for rehydration – avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol intake is a widely known rehydration method. The reason for this is quite obvious: caffeine and alcohol both cause you to urinate more frequently, which is a known cause of dehydration.
As your body is unable to retain the fluids you have consumed, you will find it much difficult to rehydrate yourself. This is why it is often said that water is the best beverage for rehydration and coffee and sodas can actually cause more harm than good.
MILK (FAT-FREE OR SKIMMED)
Milk is one of the foremost rehydration beverages you can find. It is a highly nutritious drink, containing loads of calcium which your body needs to preserve bone health. However, what you may not realize is that milk is more effective than sports drinks and any other rehydration powder or rehydration products you try. This is especially true in instances where your body undergoes excessive fluid loss due to strenuous physical activity.
However, this does not mean you can go for any type of milk. You have to go for the skimmed or fat-free variety. This will ensure your calorie and fat intake remains minimal while your body gets the hydration and calcium it needs. The reason for this is that excessive fat intake can curb fluid retention, making it difficult for you to properly rehydrate.
If you go for fat-free or skimmed milk, you get ample quantities of sodium and calcium, and at the same time, your body will be able to retain fluid better.
Having gone over the best rehydration methods and the best rehydration beverages and rehydration products, here’s a look at some basic tips you need to keep in mind for rehydrating infants and young children:
Rehydration for Babies
In case your baby is dehydrated, the best approach is to take him/her to a doctor immediately. The doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment based on the case. This can include increasing the baby’s fluid intake, i.e. through formula or breast milk. Giving a baby more water while curbing the intake of sugar-laden beverages can also help. ORS can also be given to babies who are dehydrated.
Rehydration for Children
Children, generally, have low levels of minerals in their bloodstreams when dehydrated. This means that drinking water alone will not help. The best solution is diluted squash or you can give them a special ORS. The idea is to keep the fluid intake slow and steady, rather than having the kid gulp down fluids.
HOW TO REHYDRATE QUICKLY
If you work out regularly, you will understand the importance of rehydration, especially during and after your session. This not only helps you perform better but also enhances recovery, ensuring you don’t feel fatigued and exhausted afterwards. Keep in mind, up to 2% dehydration can affect your performance and anything beyond that, you are risking falling ill. So, if you want to rehydrate quickly, follow these two steps:
Check your weight before and after the session. The difference between the numbers will indicate the level of fluid loss.
For every pound lost, you have to compensate 16 to 24 oz of fluids, drinking them steadily over a couple of hours rather than right away.
CONCLUSION – DRINK (WATER) OR DRIVE (TO A DOCTOR)
Severe dehydration is a medical emergency. While you can use ORS or other rehydration methods described above, you should visit a doctor if you are severely dehydrated. In any case, keep ORS tablets and/or rehydration beverages on hand.
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