Keeping hydrated is one of the most basic steps in a self-care routine – hydration has a huge knock on effect on your sense of well being, your long term health, even how you look! Keeping hydrated can help to keep you alert and energetic, and even help your skin look healthier and younger, while dehydration can leave tired and mentally fogged, and looking drawn and older.
It’s important to ask if there’s a right and a wrong way to rehydrate. If you’re rehydrating badly, you might not get the benefits you’re looking for or even cause yourself some harm! Today we’re looking at the risks, and identifying bad rehydration, so can make sure you avoid the pitfalls and do it well.
Water and Electrolytes
When you get dehydrated, you don’t just lose water, you lose chemicals called electrolytes. These are soluble salts that your body stores in its fluid supplies, and that are used for important functions in the body. Electrolytes include Sodium, Magnesium and Potassium, among others, and they help to control the transmission of nerve impulses from your brain, the operation of your muscles (including your heart!) and the fluid balance in your cells.
If you rehydrate by drinking pure water, you top up your fluid levels, but not your electrolytes, and this can lead to problems. At the least, this means you don’t experience the benefits of that drink efficiently, as you don’t have the electrolytes you need to get the water to the cells where it’s needed! In the worst case, if you keep drinking water when severely dehydrated you can enter a state called water intoxication, which can cause confusion, unconsciousness, or even death.
This means that you need to rehydrate and top up your electrolytes at the same time.
It’s well worth stocking up on rehydration products like ORS tablets, or hydration sachets from the chemist. These contain a mix of the key electrolytes your body needs to function that dissolve in water, solving both hydration problems at the same time, but come with their own questions about how to take them. ‘Can ORS be taken on an empty stomach?’ is a good, relevant question if you’re trying to rehydrate in the best possible way.
Fortunately, rehydration powders and tablets work as effectively whether you’ve just eaten or not. This is an advantage if one of the reasons you’re dehydrated is sickness. If you’re unable to hold down food, then a rehydration powder is a good way of keeping yourself hydrated until your stomach is back under control!