Dehydration is no joke. Our bodies use water to facilitate digestion, eliminate toxins through the skin, lubricate the joints and most importantly, to maintain body temperature. Your body can ooze and lose up to 3.5 litres of perspiration every hour during the kinds of intense outdoor workouts Sea to Sky residents are known for. And failure to replenish your body’s fluid levels can have life-threatening consequences.
words :: Jaimie-Leigh Bourne
In order to keep performance at its peak, the key lies in not letting your thirst pique. Here are some tips to help you REACH for some water before you feel thirsty:
Starting off the day with a full glass of water goes a long way towards alleviating the mild dehydration that occurs after sleeping for 7-8 hours. The human brain is 75 per cent water, so giving it more of what it’s made of right off the start will reward you with enhanced cognition for work and play throughout the day. A dry mouth, dry skin, dark or weak urine stream, and morning headaches are signs you need that morning glass. (Or get buck wild and drink fresh squeezed lemon water for an added Vitamin C boost.)
Vancouver microbiologist Dr. Jennifer Gardy once went three days without a single glass of water, while adhering to a healthy diet and exercise regime. Blood and skin tests showed she was not dehydrated at the experiment’s end, due primarily to meeting hydration requirements from other beverages and surprisingly, from food.
Dr. Gardy says, of her experiment, “Food is like a hidden well. Although I went three days without a glass of water, my meals were clearly helping to keep me hydrated.” A single cooked chicken breast provides the body with 150 millilitres of water, while cucumbers and iceberg lettuce both tip the scales with a whopping 96 per cent water content! Celery, spinach, green peppers, cantaloupe, strawberries and watermelon all rate in the high 90s for water composition. Fast food burgers and sub sandwiches, not so much.
Dehydration can happen to anyone, but alpinists, triathletes, marathon runners, and competitive cyclists are at higher risk due to the intense physical activity. The more you sweat, the more you need to drink, but quality counts! Readily available at competitions, sports beverages claim to rehydrate and replace electrolytes, but neglect to advertise their high fructose content—almost two thirds of a bottle is sugar. Opt for plain water, organic, fresh squeezed juices, and coconut water (which is best consumed after a cardio workout for mineral restoration.)
“Even tea and coffee contribute to our daily water intake. And contrary to a popular myth, caffeine does not dehydrate us,” reports Dr. Gardy, so all you caffeine lovers can celebrate with a second mug.
Dehydration can happen to anyone, but alpinists, triathletes, marathon runners, and competitive cyclists are at higher risk due to the intense physical activity.
Although Dr. Gardy’s waterless three days debunked the eight glasses per day factoid we’ve been swallowing, we still need to gulp a lot of fluids. If you’re having trouble maintaining consumption, she recommends downloading an app such as Hydro Coach or Aqualert to remind you to drink more. A great resource for athletes is the CamelBak website, which has a detailed hydration calculator for determining water requirements based on activity level.
A day of navel gazing at a sunny beach can still dry you out despite the lack of movement. Sunstroke sets the stage for severe dehydration, which is marked by extreme thirst, confusion, fever and rapid breathing. Wearing a hat and avoiding long periods of sun exposure will help keep the beach party going through those long days of summer.
As with many things, the key to avoiding dehydration is listening to your body. By the time you feel thirsty, you have already depleted 1-2 per cent of the body’s entire water content, so get thee to an oasis immediately. A backpack with a water bladder or refillable glass or BPAfree water bottle is far better than buying commercial bottled water. And that ice-cold beer waiting in your fridge might seem thirst quenching, but sadly, booze also dehydrates. So follow up with a non-alcoholic chaser to cap the day off healthy. Drink up!