Who would have thought that hydration could be as personal as food preferences? At least if you venture online about the subject. Frankly, it's been input overload for me.
For instance, a lot of people are yelling about over-hydration and possible death. While "water intoxication" or dilutional hyponatremia is real and deadly, it's due to too much water pushing out the electrolyte balance. I suspect that this can also result from an ongoing health problem. But let's be real - are the majority of people on the brink of water death or are they chronically dehydrated?
Here is a real problem for some people whether they drink a lot of water or not - they aren't keeping much of it. That's a problem. It's no wonder they might seek sports drinks which can definitely help, but also contain artificial sweeteners, synthetic minerals, chemicals, and artificial colors.
Just to be clear - regular water drinking is optimal and living strictly off of electrolyte drinks is not. But some people, for a variety of reasons, want to gag if they drink plain water or vomit if they drink too much at one time. Sports drinks are enticing because they are flavorful and don't typically cause this problem - and then people mistakenly think they are more hydrated because they are ingesting more fluids and have silenced the thirst mechanism. So, I experimented with enhancing water to encourage more hydration. And in the heat it helps!
Here is a drink that will provide some electrolytes, maintain some water, cool body temperature and help you withstand the heat. It's not full of garbage and it's super inexpensive.
- Pure water, 16 oz give or take
- 1/2 lemon or lime, fresh-squeezed, more can be added for taste
- One pinch of sea salt (I use a generous pinch)
- Sweetener (suggestions: monk fruit, maple, cane juice, coconut sugar, molasses, raw honey)
- Ginger (helps for drinking more amounts during heat) or
- Magnesium powder like Calm
The salt provides electrolytes (necessary for signals needed for heart, nerves, muscles) and keeps more fluid in. This is the secret to keeping heat stroke at bay for a lot of people. Table salt (sodium, chloride) is okay for this purpose, but is heavily processed. The benefit of sea salt (pink, gray, beige) is the taste, the effect on the body and its additional minerals.
Food or minerals, carbohydrates, salts, and sugars in drinks will cause the stomach to hold the water better to break down the nutrients. These are perfect for accelerated maximal hydration as survival author Cody Lundin puts it in When All Hell Breaks Loose. Yep, even sugar in the water is okay when you're battling heat and dehydration. He has a super recipe for quick, emergency rehydration in his book. Definitely use his in an emergency. He has a lot more on the subject.
I prefer the Monk Fruit in the Raw (it's not pure monk fruit) because it tastes good and has the teeniest amount of sugar, but not enough to trigger a sugar imbalance. Coconut sugar, maple syrup (especially Grade B), and molasses would provide more electrolytes. It's okay to use a little sugar for this purpose (unless you're diabetic, of course).
Lemons and limes provide the following electrolytes: potassium, and small amounts of calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. Other electrolytes (not in lemons/limes) are sodium, chloride, bicarbonate and sulfate. Lemons are said to literally cool the body temperature significantly. They also have folates, antioxidants, are anti-carcinogenic, stimulate the liver and bring the body into an alkaline state.
Sometimes drinking this water makes me more thirsty but I don't think it's from the pinch of salt. I think it was the body saying "Keep it up! I'm tired of being in camel mode!" If you find that you are retaining too much water and it's uncomfortable, don't drink any more with salt and try some diuretics like coffee, tea, parsley, or an herbal detox tea. You can even drink more plain water. But the lemon/lime also helps flush some water out. All the ingredients help enough stay in during heat and for rehydration. This is not a call to have one of these drinks and go on a 9-hour hike - if you think you are in trouble get help - go inside!
If you really struggle in the heat with your heart or feel exhausted or like collapsing after a little while in the heat - regardless of what or how much you drink - a deeper issue might be going on either with the kidneys (controls electrolyte and fluid balance, can be damaged by sugar issues), endocrine system (controls body temp and metabolism), or malnutrition/malabsorption so you might consider speaking with your preferred health practitioner.
Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.