Water makes up approximately 75% of your body weight. It is crucial to stay hydrated to ensure oxygen and essential nutrients are transported around your body. Proper hydration is vital to the elimination of waste products, control of your body temperature, lubrication of your joints, and cell structure maintenance. Even mild dehydration can effect your concentration and performance on mental and physical tasks.
Dehydration is the result of losing more fluid than you consume. This is particularly common among school children, who are not encouraged to drink water through the day. The elderly are also at risk because they may forget to drink, may be physically impaired and unable to get themselves drinks frequently enough, or may avoid drinking due to incontinence or difficulty getting to the toilet. Many of us just don’t drink enough because we are rushing around. Most people know it is important to replace fluids when they have been active, but, often people underestimate how much fluid they have lost.
One test is to pinch the skin on the back of your hand. If it doesn’t bounce back, you are significantly dehydrated. Thirst is not the only indication of dehydration. Common signs of dehydration are:
- Lack of concentration
- Short term memory loss
- Muscle cramp
- Flushed skin
- Dry mouth and eyes
- Dark and infrequent urine
The treatment of mild dehydration is to simply drink (non-alcoholic) fluids. For moderate dehydration, drinks with electrolytes are needed. Electrolytes are crucial for normal bodily functions. You can make your own electrolyte replacement drink.
- Six (6) level teaspoons of Sugar.
- Half (1/2) level teaspoon of Salt.
- One Litre of clean drinking or boiled water and then cooled – 5 cupfuls (each cup about 200 ml.)
Note: you can add a bit of fruit juice or replace the sugar with honey as an alternative.
Broth and sports drinks are also good. Be aware that sports drinks tend to contain a lot of sugar. Energy drinks may also contain high levels of caffeine.