Oct 24 Why You Should Stay Hydrated While Drinking
It’s one of those things that’s easy to remember – and logical – in the daylight hours: drink water while you’re out for a night of drinking. But once we start having fun, drinking water seems to fall off the priority list – it just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.
Why does alcohol dehydrate?
Without going too deep on the science, alcohol is a diuretic which means it works to remove fluids in your body at a much faster rate than usual, leaving you dehydrated. And when you are dehydrated, you get those awful hangover headaches.
When you drink on an empty stomach, this process accelerates since there is nothing between the alcohol and your bloodstream. Alcohol builds up in your bloodstream and starts to travel throughout your body. When it hits your brain, you get loopy. When it hits your lungs, it registers on breathalyzers. When it hits your liver, it acts as a diuretic.
Your body on alcohol
If you remember back in science class, we are made up of 60% water, so when we are dehydrated, more than our liver suffers. Acne, muscle cramping, high blood pressure, loss of brain power and diseases like cirrhosis are all related to dehydration.
If you are drinking at altitudes of 5,000 feet or above, dehydration can be more severe since you are already losing more water than our sea level friends. And no, you don’t get drunker at high altitudes, that’s a myth caused by the fact that altitude sickness can make you loopy or feel like you have a buzz.
Prevention is easier than the cure
If you know you’re headed out for a night on the town, there are some actions you can take to prevent severe dehydration and hopefully ease the effects of a hangover.
- Eat something healthy before you go. Vitamin-rich foods help your body retain water (in a good way) and stave off dehydration. While out eat fruit, berries and other water-filled foods.
- Drink water. This seems obvious, yet still people forget to drink lots of water the whole day before you go out. Store up!
- Drink more water. Alternate your beer with a glass of water and you will mitigate what the alcohol is doing to your body.
- Choose your alcohol. Make smart choices – lighter colored beverages, drinks with ice and “fruity” drinks all contain water so help your plight.
- Know your limits. You can still be out – and drinking – with your friends while heeding your limits. Switch to food or water in between drinks to extend the time you can be out with your friends.
Once you hit that dehydration mark, you’ll probably have a headache or feel otherwise foggy or miserable – depending on the severity. Again, if you know ahead of time you will be going big, you can load up your bedside table ahead of time for either the morning or before you pass out for the night (this is ideal!). Either way, here are some remedies to rehydrate:
- Eat! No, not the greasy burger. Go for eggs, spinach or other vitamin-rich foods that hold that water.
- Sip a sports drink. The electrolytes in sports drinks will help your body hang onto water.
- Take an NSAID. Ibuprofen and its counterparts limit the production of an enzyme that causes the headache in the first place.
- Get moving. Some light exercise can help kick start your metabolism which will help your system get rid of the alcohol faster.
- Skip the “hair of the dog.” For dehydration, you are only adding to the problem.
- Go easy on the coffee or tea. They caffeine may help you get moving, but both are diuretics and, well, you’ve had enough of that for now.