Can I drink home made Oral Rehydration Solution instead of water??
May 2, 2021 7:37 PM   Subscribe

I really struggle to drink water, and it makes me feel kind of nauseous or faint when I drink supposedly normal amounts, and it's hard to find out what a minimum normal amount should be.

So apparently the 8 glasses a day thing isn't true, which is good, because I'd really struggle to drink that much water.
I don't really like fizzy or sweet drinks, so I'm not substituting with that. I can drink more tea than I can water. And soup is fine.
I don't really sweat much.
It finally occurred to me that my grandmothers on both sides have had seizures from over hydration and were limited to 4 cups of water or tea a day (that's more common in the elderly, but still, wondered if it's relevant I have that in both sides of the family). So I started wondering if I'm just a bit of a camel or that the problem is the salt, so I looked up the proportions of home made Oral Rehydration Solution, and made some up with 250ml tomato juice, 750ml water, a half teaspoon of losalt (potassium & sodium) and a bit of curry powder for flavour, (the sugar should already be there from the tomato juice - and I used tomato juice because salty orange flavour etc is gross, and tomato juice is fine salty) and I can drink a litre of that no problems, even though I struggle with most other liquids.

My idea was just to make a litre of that each day. I would be absorbing more water from it than plain water, right? Or would I be getting too much salt?
Is the any reason why I shouldn't drink ORS instead of water, and are there any recommendations on how much I should *actually* be trying to drink per day?
posted by Elysum to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would find out if your grandmothers' seizures were due to loss/lack of minerals (because too much water intake flushed them out). Then I might ask a doctor about it.

Drinking too much potassium can be bad. Really bad.

Also, if you just crave/want electrolytes in general (and if it's safe for you), you might look into electrolyte tablets made for athletes/campers/hikers. I use them occasionally for migraines and they can be helpful in certain circumstances (but the potassium amount is tiny).

I know you said you don't like fizzy drinks, but just in case: have you tried mineral water? Gerolsteiner has a lot of magnesium, specifically, but other brands can be better than straight water sometimes too.
posted by amtho at 8:02 PM on May 2

Oral replacement solution is for people who are losing water faster than they can take it in, usually through diarrhea, and especially in situations where IV rehydration is impossible. It won't be more hydrating than just drinking water or other fluids unless you're losing water through diarrhea or similar. This could cause problems for you if you aren't losing water, so I wouldn't recommend it. You should talk about it with your doctor before just trying it if you still want to make it a regular thing.

The CDC doesn't give recommendations for how much plain water people should drink a day. They do report how much total water people consume on average, though. Between 2009 and 2012, daily total average water intake (from all sources) was 3.46 liters for men and 2.75 liters for women in the US. They also say that 30% of men's water intake comes from plain water, and 34% of women's intake comes from plain water. The rest comes from food and other beverages. Doing the math, that's 1 liter of plain water a day for men, and .93 liters a day for women.

These numbers roughly match what the Mayo Clinic recommends about water consumption: 3.7 liters total for men and 2.7 for women. But they also heavily stress that these are really general guidelines, and don't apply to everyone. Their site has a lot of great information about water intake. If you scroll down on that page, you will see that they say you will know if you are drinking enough water if you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is light yellow or colorless. If those things aren't the case and you're struggling with water intake, you can try adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, drinking more tea, and/or talking about it with your doctor.
posted by twelve cent archie at 8:09 PM on May 2 [8 favorites]

A doctor I used to see when I was growing up gave me good advice when I was in college. "Drink when you're thirsty, eat when you're hungry, sleep when you're tired". It's really that simple - don't worry about or try to math out how much water you should be drinking. Listen to your body and it'll tell you what it needs. If you're thirsty, take a drink. If you're not, don't.

Don't forget, your body intakes water in most everything you consume, as twelve cent anarchie says - food contains water, other beverages (including beer!) contain water, etc. So just pay attention to the signals your body is sending you, act on those signals, and you'll get enough water in your system for your needs.
posted by pdb at 8:19 PM on May 2 [7 favorites]

Agreeing with what others have said. You can drink too much water, and if you have no salt in your body you can cause trouble but this is more like "You are sweating out all your water and you are only drinking plain water" (that is sort of where the Gatorade mythos came from). If you like tea you can basically drink tea, watch for caffeine obviously. I don't like drinking plain water much and I just make jars of iced tea and sometimes mix it with a little bit of lemon juice so it has a kick to it. You can add a bit of salt to this and not even notice it but if you're getting regular salt in your diet this really isn't something you need.
posted by jessamyn at 8:22 PM on May 2

What is the problem you are trying to solve? Almost all people should simply drink when they're thirsty and not drink when they're not thirsty. You get hydration from any beverage, including caffeinated beverages, such as tea. You also get a lot of water from food. So you should be fine drinking as much or as little tea (or other food or beverage of your choice) as you want. If you still have hydration or related health issues, seek professional medical advice. Details here.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 9:04 PM on May 2 [5 favorites]

If you're looking for other things to try, mild mint leaves plus lemon slices, no sugar or salt, is a nice combination - you just leave them in the water jug all day to make a kind of cold tea.

I get your question, because occasionally people do actually not naturally drink or eat enough. I knew someone who regularly used to faint from not eating - they just wouldn't get hungry and would forget to. When we're sick we often don't want to eat or drink even when we need it. And young kids often hate eating so much they fall off the weight charts.

So do pay attention to how you're feeling when you don't drink much versus when you do, and maybe ask people around you if they notice any difference. If you seem and feel fine, you probably are. Either way, there shouldn't be any problem consuming other liquids instead of water if they don't have too much stuff like sugar or salt.
posted by trig at 12:03 AM on May 3 [2 favorites]

I think you may want to talk to a doctor instead of relying on second-hand advice about your grandparents. It's actually pretty hard to get water intoxication if you're not losing minerals in some other way, the most common is sweating which you've said is not occurring. And modern diets have significant amounts of sodium.

If you suspect you have an underlying health condition that may be causing some kind of mineral imbalance in your system, it would not be a good idea to drastically change your fluid intake without professional advice.
posted by meowzilla at 12:10 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]

Addressing the "how much water do I really need" question more - it's different for everyone, so instead of focusing on an amount to intake, you may need to judge by output. For instance, what the CDC says about "you will know if you are drinking enough water if you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is light yellow or colorless". Or you can use a rule I was given once when I was doing a charity walkathon - drink enough to the point that you need to pee every couple hours. We all take in a lot of water from the food we eat or from other beverages, and if your pee looks okay with what you're already doing, then you're good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:02 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]

Boy, I don't know where the CDC got that 3.3 liter number, but its absurd. That's 15.5 8oz glasses or nearly twice the 8 glasses standard that most people find challenging. I've been taking a medicine that comes with warnings about hydration, and the suggestion is 54 oz should be fine.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:42 AM on May 3

You need to drink enough water so that your urine is no darker than apple juice. Tomato juice, V-8, or broth are fine. I like iced tea & lemonade, pretty diluted. If you eat a typical diet, you are almost certainly getting plenty of salt. The extra glucose and salt in dehydration fluids is unnecessary.

If you live in a desert area, and that includes places like Sacramento, CA or Denver, you won't notice sweating or water loss from breathing, but you need to drink more.
posted by theora55 at 6:19 AM on May 3 [2 favorites]

SemiSalt, that’s water from all sources- so water-containing foods, other beverages, etc. Not just plain water.
posted by MadamM at 6:20 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]

The last page of this file has a scientifically-validated urine color chart.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:05 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]

I just want to add, be careful with the "drink (only) when you're thirsty" thing.

I've discovered through personal experience that there's something sneaky with low levels of dehydration, in which it "tricks" me into putting off drinking water until later, thinking I don't really need it... even when my mouth is dry and I should be thirsty. And that leads to more severe dehydration that I often don't notice until the headache starts, and can take me a few days to rehydrate from.

I've come to mentally equate it with the idea of how with hypothermia, one is cold, but somehow the body and mind convince a person that they're warm, or even hot enough to strip off all their clothes. The body can play this same "game" with water & thirst. It often tries to tell us we're hungry instead, and many people are familiar with that one, but the whole "oh, no, we're not thirsty at all, just ignore that dry mouth til later" is so deviously frustrating...
posted by stormyteal at 9:24 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]

Since the goal is to drink water (or at least fluids), what if you just mix tomato juice and water with a dash of curry powder. Don't bother adding the extra salt unless there is a reason why you need it. Most Americans and other who eat highly processed diets already get more than enough salt from their diet without ever touching a salt shaker.
posted by metahawk at 10:42 AM on May 3 [3 favorites]

I would find out if your grandmothers' seizures were due to loss/lack of minerals

congestive heart failure is common enough especially among the elderly

Use of diuretics or restricting fluids can be a part of the treatment.
It's a bit tricky and electrolyte imbalances can occur.
That could result in fainting etc

Blood tests are done periodically to prevent this.
If sodium or potassium levels are either too high or too low it can be serious.
Nothing to screw around with.
posted by yyz at 11:34 AM on May 3

>what if you just mix tomato juice and water with a dash of curry powder.

Came to say this. There is really nothing wrong with drinking a reasonable amount of tomato juice, drinking a reasonable amount of water, and eating a reasonable amount of curry powder every day of your life if you like. Mix them together if you like that. Hooray!

The only possibly problematic ingredient here is the losalt, and that is because it is about 2/3 potassium chloride. Getting too much potassium in your regular diet could be problematic, especially if you really get gung-ho about it. RDA for potassium is something like 4900 mg per day and it looks like 1/2 tsp of losalt has about 900mg.

So, that is quite a bit of potassium--1/5 of your RDA right there.

That is probably all AOK as long as that is your total daily consumption of losalt (or other similar potassium supplement or salt substitute). Maybe even up to 1 tsp daily wouldn't be too horrible.

I would see your choices as:

* Omit losalt altogether - drink as much or as little of your concoction with no worries at all

* Use 1/4 tsp losalt instead of 1/2 tsp per liter - you could probably drink 1 liter of this a day with no concern at all, and even up to 2 liters of this a day with few worries (as long as that is your primary or only use of potassium supplement or sprinkle in a day)

* Use 1/2 tsp losalt per the recipe but then limit to 1 liter of the recipe per day & little or no more losalt/potassium chloride sources other than that in a day
posted by flug at 10:36 PM on May 3

I don't know where the CDC got that 3.3 liter number, but its absurd.
They had people complete food and beverage diaries and then averaged out how much total water was consumed. There is a difference between total water, which is the amount of water we take in from all food and drink, and plain water like a glass of water from the sink.

From those diaries the CDC surmised that most people drink about 1 litre of plain water a day. That means the other 2+ litres of water come from food and other beverages for most Americans.
posted by twelve cent archie at 3:02 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]

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