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Are your sugary drinks dehydrating you? The science says yes


Last Updated: July 27, 2022, 19:27 IST

India, India

Are your sugary drinks dehydrating you? The science says yes

That is, each of these drinks aids the body in achieving fluid balance.

If you think sugary drinks are helping you stay hydrated, think again. Sugar and hydration are connected, but not in the way you think. 

Almost every culture in the world celebrates summer with fresh, hydrating summery drinks. In India, we have several choices: shikanji, chaas, aam panna, lassi, sol kadi, pannakam, mattha… the list goes on. What’s important to note here, is that every single one of these drinks balances some sort of fluid (water/curd/fruit pulp) with small amounts of sugars (jaggery, brown sugar, cane sugar), spices (too many to name!) and salts (black salt, pink salt, sea salt, table salt). 

That is, each of these drinks aids the body in achieving fluid balance. Hydration, after all, isn’t just about chugging huge quantities of water, it is also about getting back the electrolytes we lose through sweating and urination.  

Now, let’s contrast these traditional drinks with what most of us normally drink: fizzy drinks, sweet beverages, concentrated fruit juices, flavoured milk drinks, etc. Let’s admit to ice-cream too, since we are talking about summer! The trouble is, each of these drinks (and ice-cream) is loaded with sugar. Even when you buy fruit juices with ‘no added sugar’, you’re still consuming 20-26gms of sugar per 240ml of juice. For context, that’s the same amount of sugar you get from your fizzy soft drink. 

Weight problems and diabetes aside, high amounts of sugar are a problem when it comes to hydration. You see, your kidneys are part of the system that works hard to regulate your blood sugar. The kidneys do their part by channeling excess sugar into urine, and along with the sugar, you also lose valuable electrolytes and fluids. 

Another reason why sugar dehydrates you, is because of osmosis. Let’s take you back to middle school science: osmosis is the process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one. In plain terms, water moves towards concentrated solutions, to dilute the levels of whatever is dissolved in it. Now, think about what happens in your body when your blood sugar rises. The water in your cells moves through the cell membranes and into your bloodstream, in an attempt to dilute your blood sugar concentrations

As cells lose water, they signal to the brain the need for more water. The brain in turn, triggers the urge to sip. What happens if what you’re sipping on is high in sugar? You feed the cycle of increased blood sugar and dehydration, rather than countering it. So the next time you reach for a ‘hydrating drink’, check the label for sugar. If you’re reaching for a sports drink, also check for caffeine, another known diuretic. 

What can you drink then? Taking our cue from traditional summer drinks, what the body needs is something that reliably replaces both fluids and electrolytes. When it comes to reliability, nothing beats Oral Rehydration Solutions. The World Health Organisation has invested years of research into refining and perfecting the formula for rehydration: the perfect ratio of salts, minerals and electrolytes our bodies need to recover from dehydration.

For us lucky Indians, we’ve had access to this life saving, reliably hydrating formula since 1972, in the form of Electral that we find in all our homes. It’s what your mother trusted, when you had your run ins with diarrhoea, vomiting or even a bad fever. It’s what you trust in your own home, and it is the No.1 Dr. Prescribed WHO ORS. Electral is also available in a Ready to Drink Tetrapak.

We recommend that you cut back on sugary, fizzy drinks. We recommend you drink more water, and eat nutritious meals that help replace your electrolytes naturally. We also recommend that you notice your thirst more, and should you find yourself exhibiting the signs of dehydration, resist the temptation of a sugary drink; reach instead for what you know works for your body: Electral which is WHO approved and comes with an Osmolarity of 245 mOsmol/L, is exactly what your body needs to rehydrate!.

This is a Partnered Post. 

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first published:July 27, 2022, 11:04 IST
last updated:July 27, 2022, 19:27 IST