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wave of water representing hydration for optimal health & bowel function with the text overlay reading "A Guide for hydration and electrolyte replacement."



Admittedly, I was thinking about this blog topic after our late May heat wave, when I thought we might escape “Juneuary” here in Seattle, but alas, our weather can be very unpredictable. That said, it’s definitely bound to heat up after July 4th (at least we can count on that!) With that in mind, it’s time to talk about hydration and electrolyte replacement. I don’t often write about general health in my blogs, as a naturopathic doctor specializing in gastroenterology, however, this topic can be very relevant to one of my favorite topics – bowel function. Whether you’re dealing with chronic constipation or recovering from a bout of diarrhea, understanding how to stay hydrated in the right way can make a world of difference for your overall well-being.

As a rule of thumb, drink at least ½ ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. If you exercise frequently, increase the amount to 1 ounce per pound. If that seems like a challenging amount of liquid to ingest, start where you are and increase your intake by 12-16 ounces a week until you reach the targeted amount of hydration. It is important to take small incremental steps towards your goal so it may become a sustainable part of your daily liquid intake.

Choosing the right type of hydration for different situations is also crucial. If you’re experiencing chronic constipation, for example, opt for water-based hydration sources. This includes plain water, coconut water, and herbal teas (think hibiscus, mint or Green). However, it’s important to be mindful of your choices. Avoid fruit juices unless they’re heavily diluted with water. Coffee and black tea, while they do provide hydration, can also act as a diuretic which may increase urine output and counteract the goal of water absorption.

Now, let’s talk about electrolyte replacement. Many people know that it is important to replace electrolytes after activities in the sun and heat, but it is also important to replace electrolytes and fluid if you are having diarrhea. It can be hard to tell which products on the shelf might be best for supporting electrolytes, as creative marketing can be employed, and is often misleading. For instance, if an “electrolyte water” says it has electrolytes added for flavor, there may not be enough electrolyte present in sufficient amounts for replacement. Instead, choose products that truly replenish your electrolytes by looking for options that list the amounts of essential electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, and chloride. These electrolytes play a vital role in maintaining your body’s balance and should be included as ingredients in a rehydration drink. While some sports drinks may contain carbohydrates in the form of sugar, they might not necessarily provide sufficient electrolyte replacement. A small amount of sugar can increase absorption of water however, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners should be avoided. Be sure to read the labels and choose wisely.

If you’re looking to add a little zest to your hydration routine, infused water is a fantastic option. Simply add fruits and veggies to your water and allow them to infuse it with delicious flavors. Some delightful combinations include lemon, cucumber, and mint for a refreshing twist. And if you prefer a less sugary option than fruit juice or sports drinks, infusing water with fruits adds a subtle essence without excessive sweetness. Ginger-infused water is also a wonderful choice, known for its refreshing and soothing properties.

Maintaining proper hydration and replenishing electrolytes is crucial for your overall health, especially as the temperatures rise. Remember to choose the right type and amount of hydration for your specific needs, avoid excessive sugar and artificial additives, and be mindful of electrolyte replacement options. Cheers to a hydrated and healthy you!

Natural medicine can work very well to improve GI health. Please contact Dr. Heather Buckle ND, FABNO if you have questions about integrative solutions for any gastrointestinal issues you may have. If you live in Washington state and would like to learn more about Dr. Buckle’s naturopathic approach to your wellness, please call (206) 643-2239 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.

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