Water is essential to your survival, and so it is vital you understand the best way to rehydrate quickly. Even mild dehydration of 1-2% fluid loss can begin to affect your physical and mental performance. In this article, we will look at the signs and symptoms of dehydration and five helpful tips to reyhdrate quickly.
what causes dehydration?
The human body is made up of 60% water and every cell in your body requires it to function. Water helps to transport nutrients throughout your body, to regulate your blood pressure and help to transport nutrients throughout your body.
Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you are taking on board; this can happen through sweating, vomiting, diarrhoea and even burns. Extreme heat conditions and exercise can exacerbate dehydration and it can become a life-threatening condition very quickly.
what are the signs of dehydration?
If you’ve ever been dehydrated you’ll know some of the common signs such as a headache, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness and increased thirst. Urine colour will be dark and may even be absent altogether.
Some more serious and concerning signs are a ‘foggy’ brain, muscle cramps, kidney problems as well as skin beginning to look dry and losing its plumpness. Once someone is severely dehydrated, they may become disorientated and have problems communicating. The may stop sweating and urinating altogether, and have trouble keeping any fluids down.
what is the best way to rehydrate quickly?
Surely if you are dehydrated, you need water right? The best way to rehydrate isn’t to simply drink large amounts of water as quickly as you can. When fluids are lost from the body you will lose essential electrolytes along with the water. So by drinking a lot of water quickly the already depleted electrolytes in your body will become ever further diluted. This can result in a serious condition called hyponatraemia (low sodium in the body).
This used to be quite common in endurance events like Ironman where athletes would sweat huge amounts and only rehydrate with water. Hyponatraemia is quite avoidable in these events now due to the fantastic electrolyte rehydration products we have available.
Here are the five best ways to rehydrate fast:
rehydrate with water
If you had a sweaty morning workout or have been gardening in the heat, water may be sufficient to rehydrate you quickly. If you feel a mild headache coming on, or your urine is darker than it should be (aim for light straw coloured urine) then drink 1-2 large glasses of water immediately.
If you’re a salty sweater you will need to replace electrolytes too. This can be done through foods such as leafy greens, dairy and salty foods such as olives and pickles.
rapid rehydration with milk
If you’re a fan of dairy products, low fat or skim milk can be one of the best ways to rehydrate. Milk will supply the fluid required for rapid rehydration, plus plenty of electrolytes and also carbohydrates which often are also depleted in cases of dehydration too. Beware though; full fat milk can be hard to digest, particularly if the dehydration is related to gastro signs.
use hydrating foods
Fruits and vegetables can have a high water content – many are more than 80% fluids. They also contain vital nutrients including electrolytes. Make a snack or meal with these high water content foods in particular to help you reach your hydration goals quicker. Try watermelon slices at 92% water and strawberries at 91% water in a delicious iced slushie.
oral rehydration solutioNS
If you are moderately to severely dehydrated, using water alone may not be sufficient, and in fact it may result in life-threatening hyponatraemia as we explained above.
In these cases, it is vital that oral electrolyte solutions are used instead of water. The benefits here are two fold. Firstly, oral electrolyte solutions will quickly replenish lost electrolytes and fluids. But secondly, the presence of electrolytes in the solution actually helps to draw the fluid out of the stomach and into the body and therefore cells where it is really required. The inclusion of carbohydrates (or sugars) also helps increase the body’s absorption of water and sodium.
So, what are the recommendations? If you are anything more than mildly dehydrated, use a sports drink (containing electrolytes and carbohydrates) and try regular, small drinks rather than consuming a large amount rapidly and risking vomiting. Bindi Natural Sports Hydration is the ultimate formulation for rapid rehydration in these situation.
IV rehydration: know when to take the next step
Medical staff at endurance events are well trained in recognising the signs of severe dehydration and managing the symptoms. This can include the use of a drip or intravenous fluids which provides rapid rehydration with a balanced electrolyte solution straight into the blood stream.
It’s important you seek medical attention for severe dehydration, particularly if the rehydration suggestions above are not working or aren’t viable (for example you continue to vomit). Dehydration should always be taken seriously and treated quickly.
How to keep hydrated
Dehydration can be dangerous… but in many cases it is preventable!
Plan out your hydration, particularly before you exercise or work in hot conditions.
- Ensure you have plenty of water at all times
- Add sugar-free electrolytes to your water such as Bindilyte (the electrolytes help hydrate, and the natural flavour helps you drink more)
- If you are exercising for over an hour, add in carbohydrates to replenish your muscle stores and to aid rehydration by using Bindi Natural Sports Hydration.
- After exercise, make sure you continue to replenish fluids and electrolytes lost in sweat over the next 4-6 hours. Use electrolytes or sports drink as required for the best way to rehydrate.
- Regularly include high water content foods in your diet.
- Know the signs of severe dehydration and when to seek medical attention.