Being ill is no fun and some of the most unpleasant types of illness are those with gastrointestinal symptoms. Whether it is gastric flu, food poisoning or some other nasty bug, the kind of thing that can bring vomiting and diarrhoea is not only unpleasant because of those specific symptoms, but because of the knock-on effects.
When such illnesses strike, they can cause dehydration and it is advised that people drink more fluids to help flush the illness out of the system as quickly as possible, as well as to rehydrate.
However, any amount of water, or indeed cups of tea, coffee or fruit juice will not help you fully rehydrate. This is because the fluid you will have lost will have taken with them important minerals called electrolytes that help you maintain fluid balance, as well as other important minerals for your general health.
This is why hydration tablets can make a major difference to your recovery. The role of electrolytes is so important that water alone will not fully rehydrate your body. As Hello Giggles notes, this is what has led to the development of sports drinks that include electrolytes among their ingredients to provide this balance.
Unfortunately, these drinks do come with some downsides. One of them is the fact they are full of sugar. But that is not all. They tend to be fizzy as well and if you have just had a stomach upset, that is not the kind of thing a delicate gastric system needs after taking a beating from a nasty tummy bug.
Dr Jennifer Maeng, a New York dietician, said of electrolytes: “They have a significant role in maintaining blood pressure, muscle contraction, and pH levels, as well as maintaining overall body function.” Among these, she noted, are crucial minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium bicarbonate.
Sodium is, in layman’s terms, salt. While we think of it as a food seasoning, it is also important to consume in small quantities, partly because it is so good at absorbing water. Indeed, this explains why you can crave salty foods when your electrolytes drop.
A good example will be if you go on an energetic hike up a hill on a warm day, when you can sweat out salt (and other minerals) and thus need to put it back by eating a snack like a bag of crisps, which will help you absorb the water from your supply - an important step in helping you rehydrate after all that fluid loss.
Similarly, potassium regulates many things in your body, such as muscle function. Indeed, cramp can be caused by low potassium levels. While foods such as bananas, potatoes and lean meats can provide you with lots of potassium, hydration tablets will supply this while you are not yet ready to resume a solid diet.
Without electrolytes as you recover from illness, it will take longer for you to get back on your feet. Rehydration will be less effective, other bodily functions will be occurring less efficiently and, as a consequence, you will still be feeling thirsty, tired and achy when you should start feeling better.
That is why using hydration tablets should be a key part of your recovery process, helping you get back on your feet and feeling good again much sooner.