Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than is taken in. It is often accompanied by disturbances in the body’s mineral salt or electrolyte balance – especially in the concentrations of sodium and potassium.1
The body typically loses about two to three liters (68 to 101 fluid ounces) of water daily through breathing, perspiring and the dual processes of eliminating liquid and solid waste. This water loss needs to be replaced on a daily basis. If water is lost from the bloodstream, the body can compensate somewhat by shifting water from cells into the blood vessels, but this is a short-term solution.
As the body loses water, it’s also losing minerals, especially sodium and potassium. This may lead to dehydration. Depending on the ratio of water to electrolyte loss, dehydration can be classified as isotonic, hypertonic or hypotonic. Isotonic dehydration takes place when both water and sodium (salt) are lost in equal amounts. Hypertonic dehydration occurs when more water is lost than sodium, and hypotonic dehydration is the opposite with more sodium lost than water.
According to the European Hydration Institute, about 20-30% of our fluid intake comes from food with 70-80% from beverages of all types, not just plain water.2 Having a variety of beverages actually helps people drink up to 50% more liquids than if only water was available.3 The International Life Sciences Institute recognizes the importance of variety in maintaining hydration, especially for children and the elderly, two groups most vulnerable to dehydration.
Recovering from dehydration can be done at home as long as it’s not severe. A loss of 1% of body weight can generally be replaced within 24 hours. Mild dehydration is characterized by thirst, headache, dizziness and/or fatigue. Loss of 4% of body weight may result in lack of concentration, irritability, sleepiness and increases in body temperature and in respiratory rates. Loss of 10% of body weight can be fatal as it affects cardiovascular function.4
We can be mildly or moderately dehydrated without knowing it. According to medical doctors, 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated.5 This may be due to drinking beverages that are diuretic rather than hydrating. Alcohol and coffee are examples of beverages that cause the body to flush out water.
No matter the cause, there are ways to prevent dehydration or recover from mild cases in the comfort of our own homes. Here are some home remedies with high water content and nutritive values:6
• Bananas contain 70-79% water and are high in water and potassium content. They can help to replenish potassium levels in the body as well as help prevent dehydration.
• Barley Water is. a popular beverage in hot climates not only because it helps to fight heat stroke and in maintaining the fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Barley grains contain antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which helps to restore minerals and water that are lost when dehydrated.
• Buttermilk is one of the widely used home remedies for dehydration, since it is high in water content and packed with nutrients like magnesium. It acts as a natural probiotic which aids in dealing with diarrhea and indigestion, which could be the reason for dehydration.
• Lemon water acts as one of the best home remedies for dehydration as it not only ups your water intake and helps you to stay hydrated but also prevents dehydration. When you add a bit of salt and sugar to lemon water, it helps replenish the lost salts in the body as well as to increase vitamin and mineral levels to restore your fluid and electrolyte balance.
• Orange juice contains Vitamin C, which flushes the toxins from the body. High in water content, it also contains electrolytes such as sodium and potassium to help replenish the nutrient levels in the body. The natural sugar in orange juice provides an instant energy boost to help deal with dehydration.
• Rice water is one of the conventional health drinks used popularly throughout Asia to fight summer heat, heat stroke, diarrhea, and dehydration. Rice is loaded with B-complex vitamins which can help deal with nutrient loss. As rice water contains salt, it also provides minerals such as chloride and sodium, helping to restore the lost nutrients in the body.
• Coconut water is loaded with potassium, calcium, and amino acids. It is naturally rich in electrolytes, which helps ward off fatigue and raises energy levels. It’s a healthy alternative to sports drinks that are high in added sugars. Many athletes consume this beverage before and after training. Sipping organic coconut water throughout the day is a pleasant way to remain hydrated or to recover from dehydration.
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