As we move into the hotter summer months, the topic of hydration often comes up. Getting sufficient water and other fluids is essential year-round, but we want to stir up the subject while the iron is hot…so to speak! So settle down with a tall glass of water and let’s talk hydration and dehydration.
Is hydration important?
That’s a big yes! Your body and brain depend on getting enough healthy fluids (notice we say “healthy”…sugary soft drinks are not healthy) to function at their best. Water is critical to help regulate body temperature, prevent infections, maintain organ function, bring nutrients to your cells, support brain function, and lubricate your joints. The liver and kidneys also need water to help eliminate toxins from the body.
What is dehydration?
When your body’s cells lose more water than they take in, dehydration occurs. As water leaves, it takes electrolytes with it, such as sodium, chloride, potassium, and magnesium. These minerals are critical for cells to function optimally and for energy production.
Ways to get dehydrated
If you are thirsty right now, then you are already dehydrated. You may be thinking, “How did I get dehydrated? It’s not hot.”
Hot weather or exposure to excessive heat is not the only way to get dehydrated. In fact, you lose 3 to 4 liters of water per day through normal living: breathing, perspiration, and urination, and bowel movements. Other ways you can get dehydrated include:
- Caffeine: acts as a diuretic and don’t we all love a cup of coffee!
- Exposure to air conditioning: it dries out the air and you.
- Flying: low humidity in airplanes means more rapid evaporation of fluids.
- Alcohol consumption: alcohol also acts as a diuretic.
- Fever and illness: loss due to higher temperature, diarrhea, and/or vomiting, plus some diseases place you at higher risk of dehydration, such as diabetes and kidney disease.
- Breastfeeding: moms need additional fluids to compensate for breastfeeding.
- Medications: certain medications for blood pressure and diuretics can increase urination.
- Staying in hotels: air conditioning and low humidity contribute to dehydration.
- Exercise: especially in hot, dry weather. Lawrence Armstrong, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Connecticut, notes that “During exercise, the average person ought to be drinking about a half a quart of water every 30 minutes, or a full quart in an hour, to replace the fluids they are losing.”
- Other weather exposure: wind and cold air can contribute to dehydration.
What are the best ways to stay hydrated?
The obvious answer is to drink. A general recommendation is for women to consume about 11 cups daily and for men to drink 16 cups. This can be a combination of water, coffee, broth, and tea. Coffee and tea (if it contains caffeine) have a diuretic effect, so you should be aware of how much you drink and how much you are urinating. If your urine is medium to dark yellow, then you are not getting enough water. Ideally, you want your urine to be a light straw color.
Other ways to stay hydrated include the following:
- Fruits and vegetables: Most produce is high in water content, especially lettuce and other leafy greens, celery, cucumbers, melons, strawberries, tomatoes, and citrus.
- Coconut water: avoid products with added sugar or other fruit juices.
- Mineral water: avoid those with added sugar and artificial flavors.
- Electrolyte drinks: avoid those with added sugar
- SOS: a specially formulated electrolyte and hydration formula with some interesting science behind it.
What’s the science behind hydration?
When we sweat, the two main electrolytes lost are sodium and chloride. That activates the body’s sodium/glucose co-transport system. Basically, that means SOS helps the body absorb more water and electrolytes and thus prevent dehydration and helps rehydrate the body more effectively than traditional water replacement products or even water itself.
One way it does this is by lowering the osmolarity of the fluid ingested, which is the balance between water and sodium in the body. The lower the osmolarity, the more rapidly the body can absorb water. If you drink sugary beverages (which provide glucose), osmolarity rises. The osmolarity of SOS is more than 80 percent lower than the average soda, 50 percent lower than the average sports drink, and 20 percent lower than the average electrolyte hydration beverage.
If you want to stay well hydrated, drink lots of pure water, water infused with fruits or vegetables, or any of the other alternatives. SOS is a rehydration option that provides speedy hydration, essential electrolytes minerals, and vitamins, and the least amount of sugar of any competitors.
[Editor's Note: SOS is a partner of Naturally Savvy and we carefully vet all products we endorse to make sure they meet our standards. If we would not use a product ourselves or give it to our families, we would not suggest it to you. We love SOS for it's incredible hydrating abilities and because it is low in sugar. A real winner in our eyes.]