Dealing with dehydration

Dehydration is what happens when your body loses more fluid than you take in. It is an ever present threat when under the influence of gardening activities. Even on days not forecast as heat wave. You can perspire just as easily mowing the lawn or digging a bed over on a cool day as you can mid-July or midway through a heat wave.

Dehydration is more than a strong thirst, though that is one of the presenting symptoms alongside tiredness, lightheadedness and dark, odourful urine.  Dehydration is a disrupting of the body’s natural balance. Water makes up over two-thirds of a normal healthily functioning human body, it is intrinsic on a cellular level to all organs and their functions but when the natural water balance of the body is reduced it also disrupts the delicate balance of electrolyte salts (especially sodium and potassium) and blood sugars (glucose), which further disrupts functions including the capacity to thing clear.  

If left untreated dehydration soon becomes severe dehydration and leads to seizures, brain damage and even death.

First response: Drink plenty of fluids – water, diluted squash and fruit juice are all recommended but it is best to avoid alcohol, fizzy drinks and caffeine. If symptoms persist or you manifest rapid heartbeat, strong fatigue, inability to pass urine after rehydrating or are feeling quite unwell then medical supervision is required.

Garden response: Get to shade, spritz/splash some hose water on face and neck. Pinch some mint or lemon balm for a quick rejuvenating inhale and to drop into a glass with some ice and water. Sip back to a better fluid balance.

Quick fix isotonic drink

Isotonic drinks are designed to quickly replace the fluids which are lost by exertion and perspiration. They beat water by having a supply of carbohydrates/sugars to replenish energy. The trick is in the salt – as sodium is the electrolyte most readily lost in perspiration and also the salt makes the fluid more isosmotic meaning that it brings the drink closer to the same concentration of solutes as the blood and so more readily absorbed into the bloodstream- perfect to offset the physiological reactions to dehydration. But they don’t have to be store bought. I prefer mine to be homemade.

Juicy versions – in a jug mix and stir the following

  • 500ml fruit juice (whatever you have handy)
  • 500ml still water
  • A pinch of salt
  • A pinch of sugar or dot of honey
  • Ice – optional

Squish Squash version– in a jug mix and stir the following

  • 200ml concentrate fruit squash (often high in glucose)
  • 800ml still water
  • A squeeze of some fresh lime, lemon or orange
  • A pinch of salt
  • Ice optional
For more tips on how the gardener can stay safe and well. All good bookstores and online retailers.

About The Holistic Gardener

author of wellness books, columnist, keynote speaker.
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