Good hydration is key to good health. But few of us understand what goes into keeping our bodies well hydrated. Hint: It’s not just about chugging water.
To our parents’ generation, hydration was simple: when you were thirsty, you drank water. But thirst is not as reliable an indicator of dehydration as our parents believed. In fact, by the time we’re thirsty enough to want a glass of water, we’re already down 3% of our body weight in water. That may not sound like a lot, but dehydration, like anything done consistently, has cumulative results.
For most of us, dehydration happens in ways we don’t predict: it occurs, simply put, when you lose more water than you put in. Let’s break it down both ways:
Ways we lose water
We all recognise the usual suspects: diarrhoea, vomiting, fevers, heavy exercise, medications and chronic conditions like diabetes that are diuretic (cause increased urination). There are, however, a number of sneaky ways in which we lose water. Hot and humid weather for one – the body sweats to cool itself, but the sweat doesn’t evaporate because of high humidity, so the body doesn’t cool; which tricks the body into more sweating!
Another is the drinks we drink: pretty much all fizzy drinks and anything caffeinated is diuretic, which means you may think you’re drinking a litre of fluid, but you’re only gaining 700-900 mls of fluid, depending on your choice of beverage. This doesn’t take into account alcohol, which is extremely dehydrating.
Of course, desi chai too, is diuretic. As is the biscuit that goes with it because of its high sugar content. Most of us don’t realise that sugar dehydrates us, especially if we’re suffering from diabetes. The kidneys work to eliminate sugars by channelling it out of the body through urine, and out with it go your precious fluids and salts. What’s worse, is that thirst often feels like a sugar craving, so think about that feedback loop when you reach for your next sugary treat.
Ways we gain (and keep) water
This is where the science gets a little bit complicated. Proper hydration isn’t just about guzzling water. In fact, too much water can cause complications like hyponatremia, where your serum sodium levels get dangerously low. Proper hydration is about fluid balance. In simple terms, this means having enough fluid and electrolytes in the body to keep electrical impulses firing between cells, keep your blood flowing, your skin moist, and your brain (and all other organs) happy.
It is, in essence, about maintaining not just enough water in the body, but the saltiness of that water via electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium and other minerals. Normally, when we’re hydrated and losing ‘normal’ amounts of fluids and electrolytes through sweating and urination, our (nutritionally balanced) diets are enough to replenish our electrolytes. However, most of us are walking around dehydrated as a result of our coffee habits, chronic ailments, medications, or just bad thirst awareness. We’re also not eating the way our parents ate (which is probably why all they needed for good hydration was water!)
A proven solution
This is where Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) can be a boon. While most of us have Electral’s sachets stashed away in our family first aid kits for when we contract diarrhoea & fever, we underestimate their role in helping us with daily hydration. ORS has, of course, reliably shown life-saving effects in conditions involving dehydration since it was discovered in the 1960s. The World Health Organisation found it important enough to invest in research (spanning several years) to refine and perfect the formula for rehydration: the perfect ratio of salts, minerals and electrolytes our bodies need to recover from dehydration.
In India, this solution has been available since 1972, in the form of Electral. Electral is now also available in a Ready to Drink Tetrapak, for those times when you need instant hydration, and fast. Electral’s formula is proven that is why Electral is India’s No.1 doctor prescribed WHO Oral Rehydration Solution.
That aside though, Electral is your most trusted Oral Rehydration Solution. Think back to the last time you suffered from diarrhoea or had a bad case of vomiting; what did you reach out for? A sports drink? No. You made yourself a drink of Electral.
So, fight dehydration your way. Keep an eye on your water intake, try to avoid diuretic food and drink, and top up your electrolytes through a good diet. Listen to your body, and when you know you’re a little down, reach for an Electral!
This is a Partnered Post.