How to prevent dehydration and improve your wellbeing in Summer

Have you ever wondered why water and electrolyte balance is so important?

Have you ever wondered how much water you need to drink daily? How much water do you need to lose before you start feeling off? Generally one should drink about 8 glasses or about 2 litres of water daily on normal activity. You need to increase your water intake to 3-4 litres when doing exercise, sports or going out in hot weather.

You can get dehydrated on a normal day at home or at work simply if you do not replace the water you lose through sweating and breathing, urine output and the secretion of digestive juices in the stomach and intestines. Your kidneys will produce concentrated, less urine when you are dehydrated. That can cause damage to kidney function.

Water is crucial for life, as well as normal functioning of our body organs. Water forms the building block of every cell in the body, is an insulator and regulates body temperature, and carries nutrition and oxygen to our body tissues. Two-thirds of the body water is in the cells- intracellular, and one-third outside the cells. Lets look at some figures.

How does our water, electrolyte and nutrition balance work?

The Total body water in an average human being, weighing about 70 kg is 40 litres to 45 litres. In human being it is about 65% of the body weight in males and about 10% less in females as they have more fat. It is important to note that these values vary with the relative degrees of leanness (Vata person) and fatness (Kapha person) of the individual. In lean person, the value is higher than that of in obese person.

At any given time the circulating volume of blood in our blood vessels is about 5 litres for an average 70 kg man.  

In adults, about 1 % ( 400-500ml) water loss can cause a feeling of unwellness, and reduced functioning of the brain and heart and kidneys. Upto 2 % loss of water (800ml to 1 litre loss causes symptoms of severe  dehydration, low blood pressure, brain fogginess and lack of coordination, and you can faint. In children smaller volumes of water loss can cause dehydration. Equally it is important nor to give too much water to children.

The daily loss of water from the body from respiration, skin, gut and kidney (urine) is about 2.6 litres; that is why we are advised to drink at least 2-2.5 litres of fluids daily.

We lose water on a daily basis. The maintenance of a correct water balance is essential to good health as there is no real water storage in the body: the water we lose needs be replaced.

Humans cannot survive more than a few days without water.

Also important is the salt balance. Our body needs Sodium and potassium as essential minerals for cell function, particularly our muscles and nerves. That’s why its important to ensure that we drink a variety of fluids including soups, fruit juices and which provide these minerals. Salt depletion can cause muscle weakness, lethargy and brain fog.

Glucose /fructose  is also essential for the energy within the brain and muscle cells. So it is advisable to make sure we have enough carbohydrate. Drinking glucose with vitamin C and electrolytes and water is a well balanced  nutrition that revives and protects you from dehydration.

Now that hot weather and Summer is here, and the Lockdown is lifting, we are all keen to spend more time outdoors. The beaches are packed with people, and so many of us are going on long walks in the sun, and we are spending more time outdoors.

Going for walks in nature and outdoor activity is essential for your mind and physical health. Many people, especially children, suffer from dehydration and heat exhaustion if they are not careful with the level of activity outdoors in the hot weather, and the amount of water they drink, even at home. When we are dehydrated we don’t feel good in ourselves, start feeling restless, and lethargic and even irritable and can get headaches.  Our brain function and physical coordination starts  reducing even when we lose 1% of our body water, even before we feel thirsty. That’s why it is so important to drink enough water during the day and sometimes in the night too.

Feeling thirsty, and passing concentrated dark yellow urine in less amount is a sign of dehydration.

How do you follow a daily healthy and safe exercise and rehydration ritual?

Walking in nature, under and by the sea and riverside is specially recommended for high Pitta or fiery body types to cool the body heat. However exposing to high temperature can cause high pitta imbalance leading to Vata people who tend to get anxious and stressed also benefit from walks in the open air, warm sunshine and near wood and water. Kapha  

When we expose ourselves to direct rays of the sun on a hot day, we perspire more as the body tries to cool itself down. We feel our skin and body burning up as the skin cells heat up and the nerves on the skin are irritated by the rays of the sun.

We start breathing faster sooner in hot weather. Our heart races faster sooner too. We understand the direct effect of the sun on the body. You can get sun burn with blisters. The UV light can cause malignant melanoma, but also affect your eyes and retina, causing blurred vision.

But have you thought about the actual heat or environmental temperature and how it can affect you even if you are sitting or walking in shade, or even sitting indoors in a hot room? The overall high temperature of the air around us can also cause heat exhaustion and dehydration of our skin and body tissues.

Heat stroke and dehydration causes Pittaja Jvar (Heat fever) causing symptoms of Thirst, burning in skin and body, burning eyes and mouth, diarrhoea and vomiting, headaches, migraines, high temperature, heat  affects your brain cells, your body tissues swell up and the fluid collects around the tissues causing oedema. The effect on the brain makes you  feel faint and nauseous, some people faint in the sun, feel very drowsy and sleepy, can be sick, and can get a very high temperature called heat stroke which can be serious.

That is why it is important to prevent heat stroke by making sure you don’t get dehydrated or burnt in the sun. Walking in dry wind and dry environment can cause Vataja Jvar- Dryness and dehydration causing Thirst, dry mouth and skin, stiff limbs, lassitude, fatigue, headaches, blurred vision, faintness.

According to Ayurveda “ Vata dries, and Pitta burns”.

If we remember this simple slogan, excessive uncontrolled exposure to heat and dry air can cause dehydration due to loss of water and salt from increased perspiration and faster breathing.

Exposure to heat which increases the body temperature aggravates the Pitta and burns or “cooks” the body tissues. It can lead to sunburn, fever, headaches, vomiting and fainting due to dehydration and heat stroke.

As we walk, our muscles get fatigued more easily due to dehydration and loss of electrolytes like sodium and potassium, the Vata Dosha gets aggravated causing muscle stiffness, cramps and pain, and dry scaling of skin, weakness and fatigue, and blurring of vision.

How can we prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion?

Before you go out in the heat, cool your body with a cool shower and drink at least a glass or two  of water, a glass of fruit juice or cold milk – this is good to reduce the Pitta in the body before you start. Take

When you plan to go out, make sure you take with you sun cream at least Factor 50, to prevent the UV light, and plenty of cool water in a cool bag. An ice bag can be very useful in case of heat stroke..

Moisturise the skin with plenty of cool moisturiser cream. Specially the face and outer aspect of forearms and lower legs which are exposed to the sun and hot air directly..

The most important thing is to drink plenty of cool water frequently. But also remember your body needs electrolytes and glucose as well.  

Natural Fruit juices provide natural sodium potassium and bicarbonate salts and fructose along with the water content. The salts maintain the electrolyte balance which is vital for the functioning of our brain and heart. Vitamin C in fruits and juices protects the skin and cell membranes, and the inner organs, cooling the inner body due to its Kapha effect.

Cold milk, ice creams, milk shakes, fruity drinks, yogurt  are the best nutrition and are all Satvik Kapha foods- wholesome. Traditionally , in hot countries like India, people drink cool coconut water, mango juice, or lassi – a sweet yogurt drink. We recommend Chhash – Indian yogurt drink  (see recipe below) or Gur water- raw jaggery water which you can take in a flask with you. It is a most cooling and hydrating drink in Summer.

What to avoid

Stimulating drinks like hot tea and coffee are best avoided in the heat as they can increase the body heat, increase water loss and dehydration by perspiration and increased urine output. They can also dilate the blood vessels in the body,

Fruits and vegetables like water melon, oranges and cucumber have around 90 % water content so are good to prevent dehydration.

Avoid eating heavily fried and dry foods like burgers and meat. Small amounts of food with lot of salads, rice and fruits are best rehydrating nutrition in the hot weather.

Infants and young children

Infants and young children have very delicate skin and body, and a smaller body surface than adults, so they can be affected by dehydration and heat exhaustion more easily.  

Therefore, hydration is very important in children, as they have a higher water requirement and are less heat-tolerant.  It is therefore vital to give infants and children small amounts of water and fluids more frequently. Particularly in hot weather and during activity. Keep them under cool shade, keep their heads covered with appropriate hat all the time, and give then frequent drinks of water, fruit juice, cold milk. Children often don’t recognise the early stages of thirst, so they are at risk of becoming dehydrated. Even mild dehydration can make children irritable, cause  tiredness, headaches, lack of concentration, reduced mental performance and dry skin.

Rest and Sleep

Resting in the shade , in supine position, and taking deep slow breaths of moist air under a tree near water, rehydrates the lungs and the body. Practice doing Shavasan – at intervals during and after exposure to sun and heat. It helps to calm down the circulatory system and rest the brain.


If you follow our tips above, we hope you will remain well hydrated, maintain your wellbeing and enjoy the hot weather. It is important to drink at least 2-3 litres of water ( adults), with a variety of cold fluids and succulent fruits rich in water content,  in the Summer heat in order to prevent dehydration and heat stroke. You also need to avoid prolonged exposure to direct sun and a hot environment, and use the shade more often. Drinking nutritious drinks like our Lassi and cold milk are very beneficial to our wellbeing.

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