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The 5 Best Ways to Rehydrate Quickly

Health + Wellness
The 5 Best Ways to Rehydrate Quickly
d3sign / Moment / Getty Images

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

It's important to rehydrate after any activity that causes heavy sweating, such as an intense workout, sauna session, or hot yoga class.


Rehydrating is also crucial for preventing the damaging effects of dehydration if you have the stomach flu or are recovering from a night of drinking.

This article discusses the signs and symptoms of dehydration and the best ways to rehydrate quickly at home.

Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration

Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body requires water to function.

Water helps regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, transport nutrients, remove waste, and circulate blood. That means your body can't properly perform these functions if you're dehydrated, which happens when you lose more fluids than you take in.

For example, you can become dehydrated from sweating, vomiting, experiencing diarrhea, or taking diuretic medications that increase fluid loss.

Certain populations are more prone to dehydration than others, including children, older adults, and people with certain medical conditions like diabetes and kidney disease.

The signs and symptoms of dehydration include:

  • increased thirst
  • dry mouth
  • infrequent urination
  • dry skin
  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • headache

Urine color is also a common indicator of hydration status. Generally, the paler the color, the better hydrated you are. That said, the color can change for reasons other than your hydration status, including diet, the use of certain medications, and some medical conditions.

Studies have shown that urine color is a valid indicator of hydration in children and young adults but not in older adults.

If you're worried about your or someone else's hydration status, here are the 5 best ways to rehydrate quickly.

1. Water

While it likely comes as no surprise, drinking water is most often the best and cheapest way to stay hydrated and rehydrate.

Unlike many other beverages, water contains no added sugars or calories, making it ideal to drink throughout the day or specifically when you need to rehydrate, such as after a workout.

It's worth noting that a variety of factors, including genetics, cause some people lose more sodium via their sweat than others. You might be a "salty sweater" if you get frequent muscle cramps with exercise or if your sweat stings your eyes.

If either of these apply to you, make sure to replace not just the fluid you lose through sweat but also the sodium, particularly after intense or long bouts of exercise in hot environments.

That said, unless you're participating in a long, intense activity like an ultra-endurance event in a hot environment, the sodium you lose through sweat can easily be replaced through a balanced diet.

Summary

For most people, drinking water is sufficient to rehydrate. If you're a salty sweater, be sure to replace both the sodium and fluid you lose through sweat, preferably through a balanced diet.

2. Coffee and Tea

Coffee and tea contain the stimulant caffeine, which can be transiently dehydrating in excess amounts, as it acts like a diuretic.

However, drinking coffee and tea in moderate amounts can be as hydrating as drinking water and serve as an energizing alternative.

Caffeine becomes dehydrating only in doses around 250–300 mg, the equivalent of two to three 8-ounce (240-ml) cups of coffee, or five to eight 8-ounce (240-ml) cups of tea.

In a study, 50 regular coffee drinkers drank 4 cups (800 ml) of coffee containing 1.8 mg of caffeine per pound (4 mg per kg) of body weight daily. It observed no significant differences between coffee and water in regards to hydrating ability.

If you don't like these beverages plain, try adding unsweetened almond milk to your coffee, or herbs and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or lemongrass to your tea.

Summary

Drinking moderate amounts of coffee and tea have similar hydrating properties as water. Plus, their caffeine content may give you an energy boost.

3. Skim and Low Fat Milk

In addition to supplying a host of nutrients, milk has excellent hydrating properties.

Milk naturally contains high concentrations of electrolytes, which help balance the amount of water in your body.

Research has shown that skim and low fat milk rehydrate you as well as popular sports drinks after intense exercise, all while providing protein and other important nutrients.

The high quality protein in milk also makes it an ideal post-exercise beverage for kick-starting muscle repair and the rebuilding process.

Just keep in mind that consuming milk after exercise may cause stomach discomfort like bloating. Plus, it's not an appropriate option for people who are intolerant to lactose or certain milk proteins.

Milk — namely full fat milk — might also not be a good option if you're experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, as it could worsen these conditions.

Summary

Skim and low fat milk can be used as an effective post-workout or general rehydration beverage if you don't have lactose intolerance or a milk protein allergy.

4. Fruits and Vegetables

Comprising 80–99% water, fruits and vegetables make for a perfect hydrating snack.

For comparison, highly processed foods like cookies, crackers, cereals, and chips contain only 1–9% water.

Fruits and vegetables with the highest water content include:

  • berries
  • melons
  • oranges
  • grapes
  • carrots
  • lettuce
  • cabbage
  • spinach

Stock up on a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and keep cubed watermelon in your fridge for easy and convenient access.

Frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts, and in some cases, they're more nutritious.

It often takes days or even weeks before fresh fruits and vegetables make it to your plate. During that time, oxidation can cause nutrient loss. On the other hand, frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen shortly after harvesting, which retains most of their nutrients.

For example, one study showed that frozen green beans and blueberries contained more vitamin C than their fresh counterparts.

Try making a hydrating, nutrient-packed smoothie by combining your favorite fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables in a blender along with milk or Greek yogurt.

Summary

Due to their high water content, both fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables make a perfect hydrating snack.

5. Oral Hydration Solutions

Oral hydration solutions are specialized formulas used to prevent and treat dehydration caused by diarrhea or vomiting.

They have also been promoted to bolster exercise recovery and prevent or treat hangovers.

These solutions are water-based and commonly contain electrolytes like sodium, chloride, and potassium, as well as sugar, typically in the form of dextrose. Some commercial solutions also contain other ingredients like prebiotics and zinc.

While these rehydration drinks help replace lost fluids and electrolytes, they can be expensive.

Fortunately, you can make your own using these common kitchen ingredients:

  • 34 ounces (1 liter) of water
  • 6 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Combine them in a large bowl or pot and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. You can use flavor enhancers to improve the taste if desired — just keep in mind that they may contain artificial or natural sweeteners and flavors.

Summary

Oral hydration solutions contain water, electrolytes, and sugar. You can make your own simple rehydration solution at home using water, salt, and sugar.

The Bottom Line

Dehydration occurs when your body loses more fluids than it takes in.

For most people, drinking water is the best way to stay hydrated and rehydrate.

Other options include coffee, tea, milk, fruits, vegetables, and oral hydration solutions.

Don't hesitate to speak with your healthcare provider if you're concerned about your or someone else's hydration status.

Reposted with permission from Healthline. For detailed source information, please view the original article on Healthline.

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By Elliot Douglas

In early October, Britain's Prince William teamed up with conservationist David Attenborough to launch the Earthshot Prize, a new award for environmentalist innovation. The Earthshot brands itself the "most prestigious global environment prize in history."

The world-famous wildlife broadcaster and his royal sidekick appear to have played an active role in the prize's inception, and media coverage has focused largely on them as the faces of the campaign.

But the pair are only the frontmen of a much larger movement which has been in development for several years. In addition to a panel of experts who will decide on the winners, the prize's formation took advice from the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and the Jack Ma Foundation.

With more and more global attention on the climate crisis, celebrity endorsement of environmental causes has become more common. But why do environmental causes recruit famous faces for their campaigns? And what difference can it make?

'Count Me In'

"We need celebrities to reach those people who we cannot reach ourselves," says Sarah Marchildon from the United Nations Climate Change secretariat (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany.

Marchildon is a proponent of the use of celebrities to raise awareness of environmental causes. In addition to promoting a selection of climate ambassadors who represent the UN on sustainability issues, Marchildon's team has produced videos with well-known narrators from the entertainment world: among them, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo.

"We choose celebrities who have a lifestyle where they are already talking about these issues," Marchildon explains.

"Sometimes they reach out to us themselves, as David Attenborough did recently. And then they can promote the videos on their own social channels which reach more people than we do — for example, if they have 20 million followers and we have 750,000."

Environmental groups focused on their own domestic markets are also taking this approach. One Germany-based organization that uses celebrities in campaigns is the German Zero NGO. Set up in 2019, it advocates for a climate-neutral Germany by 2035.

German Zero produced a video in March 2020 introducing the campaign with "66 celebrities" that supported the campaign, among them Deutschland 83 actor Jonas Nay and former professional footballer Andre Schürrle. They solicit support as well as financial contributions from viewers.

"Count me in," they say, pointing toward the camera. "You too?"

"We are incredibly grateful for the VIPs in our videos," says German Zero spokeswoman Eva-Maria McCormack.

Assessing Success Is Complex

But quantifying the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement of campaigns is not a straightforward process.

"In order to measure effectiveness, first of all you need to define what is meant by success," says Alegria Olmedo, a researcher at the Zoology Department at the University of Oxford.

Olmedo is the author of a study looking at a range of campaigns concerning pangolin consumption, fronted by local and Western celebrities, in Vietnam and China. But she says her biggest stumbling block was knowing how to measure a campaign's success.

"You need a clear theory of change," explains Olmedo. "Have the celebrities actually helped in achieving the campaign's goals? And how do you quantify these goals? Maybe it is increased donations or higher engagement with a cause."

A popular campaign in China in recent years saw famous chefs Zhao Danian and Shu Yi pledge to abstain from cooking endangered wildlife. While the pledge achieved widespread recognition, both Olmedo and Marchildon say it's difficult to know whether it made any difference to people's actions.

"In life we see a thousand messages every day, and it is very hard to pinpoint whether one campaign has actually made a difference in people's behavior," she explains.

Awareness Is Not Enough

Many campaigns that feature celebrities focus on raising awareness rather than on concrete action — which, for researcher Olmedo, raises a further problem in identifying effectiveness.

"Reach should never be a success outcome," she says. "Many campaigns say they reached a certain number of people on social media. But there has been a lot of research that shows that simply giving people information does not mean they are actually going to remember it or act upon it."

But anecdotal evidence from campaigns may suggest reach can make an active difference.

"Our VIP video is by far the most watched on our social media channels," McCormack from German Zero says. "People respond to it very directly. A lot of volunteers of all ages heard about us through that video."

However, some marketing studies have shown that celebrity endorsement of a cause or product can distract from the issue itself, as people only remember the person, not the content of what they were saying.

Choosing the Right Celebrity

Celebrity choice is also very important. Campaigns that use famous faces are often aiming to appeal to members of the public who do not necessarily follow green issues.

For certain campaigns with clear target audiences, choosing a climate scientist or well-known environmentalist rather than a celebrity could be more appealing — Attenborough is a classic example. For others, images and videos involving cute animals may be more likely to get a message heard than attaching a famous face.

"We choose celebrities who have a lifestyle where they are already talking about these issues," says Marchildon from the UN. "You need figures with credibility."

McCormack cites the example of Katharine Hayhoe, an environmental scientist who is also an evangelical Christian. In the southern United States, Hayhoe has become a celebrity in her own right, appealing to an audience that might not normally be interested in the messages of climate scientists.

But as soon as you get a celebrity involved, campaigns also put themselves at risk of the whims of that celebrity. Prince William and younger members of the royal family have come under fire in recent years for alleged hypocrisy for their backing of environmental campaigns while simultaneously using private jets to fly around the world.

But Does It Really Work?

While environmental campaigns hope that endorsement from well-known figures can boost a campaign, there is little research to back this up.

"The biggest finding [from my study] was that we were unable to produce any evidence that shows that celebrity endorsement of environmental causes makes any difference," says Olmedo.

This will come as a blow to many campaigns that have invested time and effort into relationships with celebrity ambassadors. But for many, the personal message that many celebrities offer in videos like that produced by German Zero and campaigns like the Earthshot Prize are what counts.

The research may not prove this conclusively — but if the public believes a person they respect deeply personally cares about an important issue, they are perhaps more likely to care too.

"I personally believe in the power this can have," says Marchildon. "And if having a celebrity involved can get a single 16-year-old future leader thinking about environmentalist issues — that is enough."

Reposted with permission from DW.

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