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It’s Easier to Prevent Dehydration Than Treat It

By Sonja Fung, ND

You never want to be caught in a state of dehydration, especially here in the desert. If you wait until you are thirsty to drink water, you are already dehydrated. The dry valley air coupled with our oven-like heat enables dehydration which can sneak up quickly, and because most people don’t drink enough water, the threshold may be closer than you think – especially when exercising. It is much easier to prevent dehydration than to treat it.

We should always be cognizant of our hydration status, especially in the summer months. If you have a dry, sticky mouth, are thirsty, have frequent headaches or constipation, you already are in mild to moderate dehydration. A good gauge of hydration status is not how thirsty you are, but the color of your urine. If your urine is light to clear, you are adequately hydrated. If your urine is dark yellow to amber, you are dehydrated.

Our bodies are 72% water and we need a lot of water intake to keep the proper balance. You should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day. If you weigh 140 pounds, you should be drinking at least 70 oz of water daily. That’s a little over 2 liters and does not include coffee, tea or other liquids.

As we sweat, we lose more than just water. Electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are also lost. If you have ever experienced muscle cramping after sweating a lot, it is an indication of the loss of these major minerals and a sign of moderate to severe dehydration. Electrolytes are essential in the function of your body, so they need to be replaced.

How do you maintain optimal hydration when exercising? Don’t start already dehydrated. Make it a habit to continuously drink water throughout the day. Start your day with a large glass of water with a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice first thing in the morning. Carry a reusable glass or BPA-free water bottle with you and count your refills. Before, during, and after your work out, drink electrolyte water and avoid the sugary neon sports drink. Most sports drinks are filled with high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, and dyes. Instead, choose from these healthy electrolyte options – or better yet, make your own.

  • Smart Water by Glaceau
  • Trader Joes Electrolyte water
  • Zico Coconut water

Making your own electrolyte replenishing drink is easy and cost effective. Just mix together:

  • 12 oz filtered water
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • a small pinch of Stevia extract (natural sugar substitute) to taste

For the intense athlete, there are other healthy electrolyte supplements that you can purchase such as Catalyte (an electrolyte restoring powder). Add 1 scoop to a water bottle and drink before, during, and after strenuous exercise.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and there are easy ways to prevent dehydration. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Dr. Sonja Fung is a primary care naturopathic doctor and co-owner at Live Well Clinic, located on Avenue 47 and Adams, behind the Target/ World Market complex. For more information you can visit the website at www.livewellclinic.org or call at 760-771-5970. 

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