Remaining hydrated is critical to your overall health. Every cell in your body needs water in order to function properly. In fact, an adult's body weight is 60 percent water, while an infant's is up to 80 percent water. Other than oxygen, there's nothing that your body needs more than water.
The simple cure for dehydration comes from the tap. Turn it on and drink. But there are other kitchen helpers that will keep you hydrated, too. Check out the next page for some helpful home remedies to treat dehydration.
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If you've experienced dehydration, stick to foods that are easily digested for the next 24 hours, because stomach cramps are a symptom of dehydration and can recur. Try soda crackers, rice, bananas, potatoes and flavored gelatins. Gelatins are especially good since they are primarily made of water.
You can also start and end your day with 16 ounces of water. It's a great way to prevent mild dehydration.
Bananas have great water content and are especially good for restoring potassium that has vanished with dehydration. You can also try watery fruits such as cantaloupe, watermelon and strawberries. Watery vegetables such as cucumbers are good, too.
Try adding 1 teaspoon lime juice, a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon sugar to a pint of water. Sip the beverage throughout the day to cure mild dehydration.
If you're experiencing symptoms of mild dehydration or heat injury, or you're just plain sweating a lot, make sure you replace your salt. Don't just chug salt straight from the box, however. Try eating pretzels, salted crackers or salty nuts.
And to slough off the dry, flaky skin that comes from dehydration, try this: After you bathe and while your skin is still wet, sprinkle salt onto your hands and rub it all over your skin. This salt massage will remove dry skin and make your skin smoother to the touch. It will also invigorate your skin and get your circulation moving. Also, if your skin is itchy as a result of dehydration, soaking in a tub of salt water can be a great itchy-skin reliever. Just add 1 cup table salt or sea salt to bathwater. This solution will also soften skin and relax you.
Not only will they add water back into your system, sport drinks restore potassium and other essential electrolytes (a salt substance, such as potassium, sodium, and chlorine found in blood, tissue fluids, and cells that carry electrical impulses). For children, these adult drinks may be too harsh, so talk to your pharmacist about pediatric rehydration drinks now on the market.
Don't depend on sport drinks or soft drinks for all your fluid requirements. They can come with side effects and calories. Plain old water is the best choice. Yogurt or cottage cheese both have sodium and potassium for replacing electrolytes as well.
Suck on ice or rub it on your body when you're overheated. This will help cool you down and prevent excess evaporation, which may lead to dehydration.
Eating a popsicle is a great way to restore water to your body as well. It's an easy way to get fluids into kids, too.
If you drink bottled water, freeze some in the bottom of an empty bottle, then top if off with cold water when you're ready to go. You'll have cold water ready to drink for hours. If you know you'll need more than one bottle of cold water, grab another full bottle, drain about an inch from the top and freeze the whole thing. By the time the first bottle is empty, you'll have plenty of cold water in the second.
HowStuffWorks takes a look at how to safely use a neti pot.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Timothy Gower is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in many publications, including Reader's Digest, Prevention, Men's Health, Better Homes and Gardens, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. The author of four books, Gower is also a contributing editor for Health magazine.
Alice Lesch Kelly is a health writer based in Boston. Her work has been published in magazines such as Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Woman's Day, Reader's Digest, Eating Well, and Health. She is the co-author of three books on women's health.
Linnea Lundgren has more than 12 years experience researching, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines. She is the author of four books, including Living Well With Allergies.
Michele Price Mann is a freelance writer who has written for such publications as Weight Watchers and Southern Living magazines. Formerly assistant health and fitness editor at Cooking Light magazine, her professional passion is learning and writing about health.
ABOUT THE CONSULTANTS:
Ivan Oransky, M.D., is the deputy editor of The Scientist. He is author or co-author of four books, including The Common Symptom Answer Guide, and has written for publications including the Boston Globe, The Lancet, and USA Today. He holds appointments as a clinical assistant professor of medicine and as adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.