Published: 19/03/2022 Tags: The Ehlers-Danlos Society News

Optimizing hydration with Lorna Ryan

Sources of hydration – and why hydration is so important!⁠

Today is post six for #NutritionandHydrationWeek with Lorna Ryan, Registered Clinical Nutritionist/Nutritional Therapy, and Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner. ⁠

The following information should not constitute medical advice, dietary advice, or treatment. Individuals should consult a healthcare professional before making changes to their nutritional plan. 

Everyone’s heard of the ‘eight glasses of water a day’ saying, which interestingly was sort of a manufactured slogan for advertising for a certain brand of water. But really you want to be consuming water to replenish your hydration – and it’s not just water that does this. 

Quite a lot of people don’t like water. I get asked in clinic quite a lot, “What can I drink instead of water?” 

  • With water itself, maybe don’t have filtered water because some filters take out the minerals. 
  • Milk is excellent at hydrating, but we say dairy milk which is full fat, or semi-skimmed, not your replacement like nut milks. 
  • Rooibos tea is full of minerals that are super for hydration. Loose leaf is better if you can buy loose leaf – it has both the minerals and the fluid in there. 
  • Coconut water is quite rich in potassium. On hot days, it’s quite nourishing. 

We then have some food-based hydration. People often think hydration is just liquids but actually, if you have a soup, vegetables including cucumber, celery, tomatoes, fruits including watermelons and grapes, they do not only contain water for hydration because it’s liquid, but they do contain the minerals that your body will be wanting as well. 

Here are some tips for hydration! 

  1. Do not wait until you feel thirsty. That’s that sensation in your mouth. It’s dry. Your throat might be dry and croaky. Your lips might be feeling dry as well. If you’re at that stage, your body is quite likely already dehydrated. That’s an indication that you need to hydrate. Look at your urine. The color should be a pale yellow-like straw color. If your urine is quite dark, that’s potentially showing dehydration. If it’s clear, that’s potentially indicating you’ve got a little bit too much water or liquids going in. We want that pale color. 
  2. Vary your hydration sources to make sure that you get all the different nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, particularly the minerals that your body requires. Note that your daily fluid intake needs may vary. So the suggestion of eight glasses a day or two and a half liters a day, that depends on what you’re doing: how hot is the climate you’re living in? Are you doing exercise? Do you have health conditions that potentially might need you to have more fluid? And notably, there might be some conditions where actually your doctor asks you to have less fluid. 
  3. Hydrate before caffeinating. There’s nothing wrong with coffee or strong tea if you want that, but in the morning, prioritize having water so that when you have your coffee, if it stimulates your urine output or a stool bowel movement, you’ve already got that water going into your body to hydrate you before you then lose more water. Remember that overnight with your breath, you would have lost quite a lot of moisture from the body and hydration as well. If you do feel thirsty, it can be quite helpful to bulk drink, around 250 to 400 milliliters depending if this is a capacity you can cope with. Some people with certain gastric issues may not be able to cope with that volume of water. That’s why I’ve added a disclaimer here that only if medically safe.
  4. On a hot day, depending on where you live, if you have a particularly hotter day than normal and you’re sweating, you might find adding an electrolyte to your water or discussing it with your medical team as well. Sodium, potassium, and magnesium make up those electrolytes. A little tip is to always have some frozen cold tea in your freezer, ready to defrost and drink. If you are okay with very cold liquid, you can just sip it out of the bottle if you like.” 

Tomorrow we will cover building your nutritional toolkit. Watch Lorna’s talk on nutrition and hydration now, in full, here.

Lorna Ryan is a Clinical Nutritionist/Nutritional Therapy, and Lifestyle Medicine Practitioner who has a clinical practice based in London, UK, and online internationally. Lorna is the Chair of the Diet and Nutrition Working Group of the International Consortium on the Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes (EDS) and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders. 

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