The alcoholic drinks which put you at most risk of dehydration
The scorching summer heatwave isn't something we're particularly accustomed to here in the UK, so naturally everyone is keen to make the most of the sunshine while it sticks around.
With the evenings remaining warm and sunny, lounging on the sofa has been swapped in favour of al fresco drinking spots, beer gardens and barbecues, with alcohol likely being a big part of summer dining.
But enjoying a few tipples out in the heat does come with its health risks.
Does alcohol cause dehydration?
Dehydration is one of the most common heat related conditions, occurring when the body loses more fluid than it is taking in.
When the normal water content of your body is reduced, this upsets the balance of salts and sugar in your body, affecting the way it functions.
While it is typically a result of not taking in enough fluids to replace those that have been lost, factors such as the climate, physical exercise, and diet can also contribute to dehydration - with alcohol being one of the key culprits.
The NHS note that too much alcohol consumption can cause dehydration to happen more easily.
This is because alcohol acts as a diuretic, resulting in an increase in urine output.
Alcohol decreases the production of an anti-diuretic hormone which is used by the body to reabsorb water, so with less of the hormone available, the body loses more fluid than it normally would through increased urination.
According to Hydralyte, for every standard drink you consume (10 mg of pure alcohol), you are likely to urinate 100 ml more than you drink, leading to dehydration.
In addition, excess consumption of alcohol can also result in vomiting, which further depletes the body of much needed fluid and heighten the risk of further dehydration.
Which drinks are the worst culprits?
No alcoholic drinks are hydrating, but choosing an option with a low alcohol content is better for minimising the risk of dehydration.
The lower the alcohol content in a drink, the less it acts as a diuretic, meaning you won't lose as much fluid.
Average alcohol contents:
Beer - 4 to 6 per cent
Wine - 12.5 -to 14.5 per cent
Cider - 4 - 8 per cent
Vodka - 40 per cent
Gin - 37.5 to 50 per cent
Rum - 40 per cent
Bitters - 28 - 45 per cent
Whisky - 40 to 68 per cent
Based on the average alcohol content in some of the most popular drinks, it is best to stick to beer or cider, as these contain the lowest amount.
How to stay hydrated
While consuming alcohol does put you at higher risk of dehydration, particularly in hot weather, following these simple steps will help to keep you hydrated:
- Drink more slowly
- Be sure to consume plenty of food if drinking
- Alternate alcoholic drinks with water - ask for a glass of water with every drink you order
- Choose drinks with a low alcohol content
- Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink on any single occasion