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Drinking water is not the only way to stay hydrated

Nutrition and Wellness
 Dehydration results from excessive loss of water and electrolytes from the body. [iStockphoto]

When the temperatures rise, it is very easy to get dehydrated. However, staying hydrated depends on many factors other than climate; your fluid intake, your diet and your level of activity are three important ones.

Human beings lose fluid through sweat, tears, vomiting, urine or diarrhoea. If one of these functions increases for any reason then you might end up dehydrated - this, in medical terms is when your blood becomes more concentrated, making your cardiovascular system work harder to efficiently pump blood. A high blood concentration also makes your kidneys retain more water, which is why you urinate less.

In short, according to Doctors Without Borders Medical Guidelines, dehydration results from excessive loss of water and electrolytes from the body.

An electrolyte, according to the National Health Institute (NIH) at the US Department of Health and Human Services, is a substance that breaks up into ions (particles with electrical charges) when it is dissolved in water or body fluids.

Examples of these ions are calcium, sodium,, calcium, chloride, potassium and phosphate. These ions help move waste out of cells, help move nutrients into cells and help nerves, muscles, the heart, and the brain work the way they should.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drinking a lot of liquids apart from water will keep our bodies hydrated.

"While water is the best overall source of hydration, additional beverages such as milk and juice are composed mostly of water," the CDC says.

In addition, eating foods with high water content plays a huge role in hydration since approximately 80 per cent of our water intake comes from drinking water. The other 20 per cent comes from food.

Fluid intake can be easily complemented by eating foods with higher water content. Examples of these are fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe and strawberries and vegetables like cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and carrots.

If you want your body to retain fluids longer, avoid alcohol and sugary drinks since some liquids work against hydration, according to the CDC. Sugary and fizzy drinks like soda, drinks with caffeine (like tea, coffee and energy drinks), alcoholic drinks like beer and wine are all culprits since they are loaded with ingredients that remove water from tissues, so avoid them as much as possible.

Apart from that, if you stay cool, you can stay hydrated longer. Regulating your body temperature when the risk of heat stroke is at its highest is important. Wear light, loose-fitting clothing to minimise sweating and schedule strenuous sports and physical activities during cooler times of the day.

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