Understanding Human Dehydration Hydration, Electrolytes & Pickle Juice

I had a client bring up the issue of Dehydration, hydration & Electrolytes so I wanted to do some research and this is what I found. Plus, since I get muscle cramps a lot.  I’ll share with you what I use to help prevent and try to stop those damm cramps.

Understanding Human Dehydration & Electrolytes

What is Dehydration?

Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluids than it takes in, leading to a deficiency of water and other essential fluids necessary for normal bodily functions. This can affect the balance of

minerals (electrolytes) in the body, which can have significant physiological impacts.

Causes of Dehydration

  1. Insufficient Fluid Intake: Not drinking enough water, especially during hot weather or exercise.
  2. Excessive Fluid Loss: Through sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination.
  3. Fever: Increased body temperature can increase fluid loss.
  4. Medical Conditions: Such as diabetes, which can lead to increased urination and fluid loss.
  5. Medications: Diuretics and other medications that increase fluid excretion.

How Much Water is in the Human Body?

The human body is composed of approximately 60% water, though this can vary depending on age, sex, and body composition:

  • Infants: About 75% water.
  • Adult Men: About 60% water.
  • Adult Women: About 55% water (due to higher body fat percentage).
  • Elderly Individuals: About 50-55% water.

Distribution of Water in the Body

  • Intracellular Fluid (ICF): About 2/3 of the body’s water is located within cells.
  • Extracellular Fluid (ECF): The remaining 1/3 of the body’s water is outside the cells, including:
    • Interstitial Fluid (fluid between cells): About 75% of ECF.
    • Plasma (fluid component of blood): About 25% of ECF.
    • Transcellular Fluid (e.g., cerebrospinal fluid, joint fluid): A small fraction.

Symptoms of Dehydration

  • Mild to Moderate Dehydration: Thirst, dry mouth, reduced urine output, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness, and headache.
  • Severe Dehydration: Extreme thirst, very dry skin and mucous membranes, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, confusion, and unconsciousness.

Fixing or Healing Dehydration

1. Rehydration:

  • Oral Rehydration: Drinking water or oral rehydration solutions (ORS) that contain a balanced mix of salts and sugars.
  • Intravenous (IV) Rehydration: Used in severe cases where oral intake is not sufficient or feasible.

2. Electrolyte Balance:

  • Oral Rehydration Solutions: These are specifically formulated to replace lost electrolytes and fluids.
  • Electrolyte-Rich Foods: Consuming foods like bananas, oranges, and spinach that are high in potassium and other electrolytes.

3. Monitoring Fluid Intake:

  • Daily Water Intake: The recommended daily water intake varies, but general guidelines suggest about 3.7 liters (125 ounces) for men and 2.7 liters (91 ounces) for women from all beverages and foods.

Prevention of Sports Dehydration

1. Pre-Hydration:

  • Before Exercise: Drink 500-600 ml (17-20 ounces) of water 2-3 hours before exercise.
  • Immediately Before Exercise: Drink 200-300 ml (7-10 ounces) of water 20-30 minutes before starting exercise.

2. Hydration During Exercise:

  • Regular Intervals: Drink 200-300 ml (7-10 ounces) of water every 10-20 minutes during exercise.
  • Sports Drinks: For exercise lasting longer than 60 minutes, use sports drinks that contain electrolytes and carbohydrates to maintain energy levels and electrolyte balance.

3. Post-Exercise Rehydration:

  • After Exercise: Drink 450-675 ml (16-24 ounces) of water for every pound lost during exercise. Weighing yourself before and after exercise can help determine fluid loss.
  • Continued Hydration: Continue drinking fluids throughout the day to fully replenish fluid and electrolyte levels.

I drink a lot of Zip Fuzz (and coffee) during the day so I wanted to know the pros and cons of Zip Fuss and what are all those ingredients and are these ingredients good or bad for you!

What are in the Ingredients in Zip Fuzz? A comprehensive research guide. Is it good or bad for you?

Research on Hydration and Athletic Performance

1. Impact on Performance:

  • Cognitive Function: Dehydration can impair cognitive function, reducing concentration, and decision-making abilities.
  • Physical Performance: Even mild dehydration (1-2% body weight loss) can impair athletic performance, reducing strength, endurance, and coordination.

2. Strategies for Optimal Hydration:

  • Individualized Hydration Plans: Tailoring hydration strategies to individual needs based on factors such as sweat rate, exercise intensity, and environmental conditions.
  • Hydration Monitoring: Using urine color, body weight changes, and thirst as indicators of hydration status.


Maintaining proper hydration is crucial for overall health, athletic performance, and recovery. Understanding the science and research behind hydration, recognizing the causes and symptoms of dehydration, and implementing effective hydration strategies can help prevent dehydration and optimize physical and cognitive performance in sports and daily activities.


I use these as needed

The best sports drinks and electrolyte powders for hydration and replenishment depend on various factors, including the intensity and duration of the exercise, personal preferences, dietary restrictions, and specific electrolyte needs. Here is an overview of some of the most effective and popular options for athletes and individuals seeking to maintain optimal hydration and electrolyte balance:

1. Commercial Sports Drinks:

  • Gatorade:
    • Pros: Widely available, contains a good balance of electrolytes (sodium, potassium), and carbohydrates for energy, and comes in various flavors.
    • Cons: Contains added sugars and artificial flavors.
  • Powerade:
    • Pros: Similar to Gatorade, with a blend of electrolytes and carbohydrates. Available in multiple flavors.
    • Cons: Also, contains added sugars and artificial ingredients.
  • BodyArmor:
    • Pros: Contains natural flavors and sweeteners, coconut water for additional electrolytes, and a variety of vitamins.
    • Cons: Higher in sugar content compared to some other options.

2. Electrolyte Powders:

  • Nuun Sport Electrolyte Tablets:
    • Pros: Convenient, low in sugar, contains essential electrolytes, and available in various flavors. Tablets are easy to carry and dissolve in water.
    • Cons: Some people may not like the fizzy texture.
  • Skratch Labs Hydration Mix:
    • Pros: Made with real fruit, contains a balanced mix of electrolytes and is lower in sugar compared to many sports drinks.
    • Cons: More expensive than some other options.
  • Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel:
    • Pros: Combines electrolytes and carbohydrates, designed for long-duration endurance activities, and easy on the stomach.
    • Cons: The taste may not appeal to everyone.
  • GU Hydration Drink Tabs:
    • Pros: Contains a good balance of electrolytes, low in calories and sugar, and is easy to use.
    • Cons: Limited flavor options.
  • Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier:
    • Pros: Uses Cellular Transport Technology (CTT) for faster hydration, contains essential vitamins, and is convenient for travel.
    • Cons: Somewhat high in sodium and sugar content.


I use this as needed









3. Natural and DIY Options:

  • Coconut Water:
    • Pros: Natural source of electrolytes, particularly potassium, low in calories, and no added sugars.
    • Cons: Lower in sodium, which may not be sufficient for high-intensity or long-duration activities.
  • Homemade Electrolyte Drink:
    • Recipe: Mix water with a pinch of sea salt, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, and a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup.
    • Pros: Completely natural, customizable, and no artificial ingredients.
    • Cons: Requires preparation and may not be as convenient as commercial products.

Considerations for Choosing the Best Option:

  1. Electrolyte Content: Ensure the drink or powder contains a balanced mix of essential electrolytes, especially sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
  2. Carbohydrates: For long-duration or high-intensity activities, a drink with carbohydrates can help maintain energy levels.
  3. Sugar Content: Be mindful of the sugar content. While some sugar can help with energy, too much can be counterproductive.
  4. Taste and Palatability: Choose a product that you enjoy the taste of, as you are more likely to consume it regularly.
  5. Dietary Restrictions: Consider any dietary restrictions, such as the need for gluten-free, vegan, or non-GMO products.


The best sports drinks and electrolyte powders for hydration and replenishment depend on individual needs and preferences. Options like Gatorade, Powerade, BodyArmor, Nuun Sport Electrolyte Tablets, Skratch Labs Hydration Mix, and Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier offer convenient and effective solutions. For those preferring natural options, coconut water and homemade electrolyte drinks can be excellent choices. Evaluating factors such as electrolyte content, carbohydrate needs, sugar levels, and personal taste will help determine the most suitable product for optimal hydration and performance.

Electrolyte Imbalance

An electrolyte imbalance occurs when certain mineral levels in your blood get too high or too low. Symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance vary depending on the severity and electrolyte type, including weakness and muscle spasms. A blood test called an electrolyte panel checks levels

What is an electrolyte imbalance?

An electrolyte imbalance occurs when you have too much or not enough of certain minerals in your body. This imbalance may be a sign of a problem like kidney disease.

Electrolytes are minerals that give off an electrical charge when they dissolve in fluids like blood and urine. Your body makes electrolytes. You also get these minerals from foods, drinks, and supplements. Electrolytes in blood, tissue, urine, and other body fluids play a critical role in balancing body fluids, regulating your heart rhythm, and supporting nerve and muscle function.

What do electrolytes do?

Electrolytes perform different functions in your body:

  • Sodium controls fluid levels and aids nerve and muscle function.
  • Potassium supports heart, nerve, and muscle functions. It also moves nutrients into cells and waste products out of them while supporting your metabolism.
  • Calcium helps blood vessels contract and expand to stabilize blood pressure. It also secretes hormones and enzymes (proteins) that help the nervous system send messages.
  • Chloride helps maintain healthy blood levels, blood pressure, and body fluids.
  • Magnesium aids nerve and muscle function. It also promotes the growth of healthy bones and teeth.
  • Phosphate supports the skeletal system, as well as nerve and muscle function.
  • Bicarbonate helps balance acids and basic alkaline compounds (bases) in the blood (pH balance). Bicarbonate also helps move carbon dioxide (a waste product) through your bloodstream.

What are the types of high electrolyte imbalances?

High electrolyte imbalances include:

  • Sodium: Hypernatremia.
  • Potassium: Hyperkalemia.
  • Calcium: Hypercalcemia.
  • Chloride: Hyperchloremia.
  • Magnesium: Hypermagnesemia.
  • Phosphate: Hyperphosphatemia.
  • Bicarbonate: Alkalosis (low alkaline base).

What are the types of low electrolytes or electrolyte deficiencies?

Low electrolytes or electrolyte deficiencies include:

  • Sodium: Hyponatremia.
  • Potassium: Hypokalemia.
  • Calcium: Hypocalcemia.
  • Chloride: Hypochloremia.
  • Magnesium: Hypomagnesemia.
  • Phosphate: Hypophosphatemia.
  • Bicarbonate: Acidosis (high acid levels).

Possible Causes

What causes an electrolyte imbalance?

Water makes up more than half of your body’s weight. Blood and fluid in and around cells (called fluid compartments) hold most of this water. Your kidneys and liver, as well as other organs and tissue, continually move electrolytes in and out of cells to adjust fluid levels within the compartments.

Certain health conditions can affect your body’s ability to move and balance electrolytes. When fluid compartments have too many or too few electrolytes, you have an electrolyte imbalance.

What are the risk factors for an electrolyte imbalance?

Infants, young children, and older adults are more prone to changes in electrolyte levels, but an imbalance can happen to anyone.

Certain conditions can also throw off your body’s electrolyte levels. You may be more likely to develop an electrolyte imbalance if you have:

  • Burns.
  • Cancer.
  • Cardiovascular disease, heart failure, or high blood pressure.
  • Dehydration due to not drinking enough liquids or from excessive vomiting, diarrhea, sweating (hyperhidrosis), or fever.
  • Overhydration or water intoxication (drinking too much water).
  • Eating disorders.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Liver disease like cirrhosis.
  • Substance use disorder.

Certain medications can also affect electrolyte levels. These include:

  • Antibiotics.
  • Chemotherapy drugs.
  • Corticosteroids.
  • Diuretics and laxatives.

What are electrolyte imbalance symptoms?

Symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance vary depending on the severity and electrolyte type. A slight electrolyte imbalance may not cause noticeable changes.

When problems occur, you may experience:

  • Confusion and irritability.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headaches.
  • Irregular or fast heart rate (arrhythmia).
  • Muscle cramps, muscle spasms, or weakness.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Numbness or tingling in limbs, fingers, and toes.

Care and Treatment

How is an electrolyte imbalance diagnosed?

An electrolyte panel is a blood test that measures electrolyte levels. Healthcare providers often order an electrolyte panel if you:

  • Need blood tests for a routine physical exam.
  • Are in the hospital.
  • Have certain health conditions.
  • Experience disease symptoms.

Your provider may also order a basic metabolic panel or a comprehensive metabolic panel. These blood tests check for electrolytes, as well as other substances in the blood.

How are electrolyte imbalances managed or treated?

Treatment depends on the specific electrolyte imbalance and cause. Some imbalances will be corrected without treatment.

To treat dehydration, your provider may recommend rehydrating with electrolyte drinks or an oral rehydration salt (ORS) solution. Your provider can tell you the correct amount of sugar, salt, and water to make this solution at home. Or you can buy ORS packets at a drugstore.

Medical treatments for electrolyte imbalances include:

  • IV fluids like sodium chloride rehydrate your body.
  • IV medicines to restore a healthy electrolyte balance.
  • Medications or supplements to replace lost electrolytes.
  • Hemodialysis to correct electrolyte imbalances caused by kidney failure or severe kidney damage.

What are the complications of an electrolyte imbalance?

A significant electrolyte imbalance (either too high or too low) can cause serious, life-threatening problems. These complications include:

  • Coma.
  • Seizures.
  • Sudden cardiac death (sudden cardiac arrest).

How can I prevent an electrolyte imbalance?

Proper hydration can help your body maintain a healthy level of electrolytes. It’s especially important to drink enough fluids if you experience prolonged diarrhea, vomiting, or sweating.

When To Call the Doctor

When should I call the doctor?

You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Changes in heart rate.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • A prolonged bout of diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Signs of dehydration.
  • Unexplained confusion, muscle cramps, numbness, or tingling.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • What type of electrolyte imbalance do I have?
  • What caused the electrolyte imbalance?
  • What is the most appropriate treatment?
  • What are the treatment side effects?
  • How can I lower my chances of developing an electrolyte imbalance?
  • Should I look out for complications?

The Science of Hydration

Hydration is crucial for maintaining homeostasis and supporting various physiological processes. Water constitutes about 60% of the adult human body and is essential for:

  • Cellular Functions: Water is the primary solvent in which cellular biochemical reactions occur.
  • Temperature Regulation: Through sweating and respiration.
  • Joint Lubrication: Provides lubrication to joints.
  • Nutrient Transport: Transports nutrients and oxygen to cells.
  • Waste Removal: Helps in the excretion of waste products via urine and sweat.

Causes of Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when water loss exceeds water intake, which can happen due to various reasons:

  1. Insufficient Fluid Intake: Not drinking enough water.
  2. Excessive Fluid Loss: Through sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination.
  3. Illness: Fever, diabetes, or other health conditions can increase fluid loss.
  4. Environmental Factors: High temperatures and humidity can increase sweating.
  5. Physical Activity: Exercise increases fluid loss through sweat.

Daily Fluid Requirements

General Guidelines

The amount of water an individual needs can vary based on several factors, including age, sex, body size, physical activity level, and environmental conditions.

General guidelines suggest:

  • Men: Approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces) of total water intake per day.
  • Women: Approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water intake per day.

These totals include all beverages and foods. About 20% of daily fluid intake typically comes from food, with the remaining 80% coming from beverages.

Factors Affecting Hydration Needs

  1. Physical Activity: Increased physical activity levels raise the need for fluid replacement. The American Council on Exercise recommends drinking:
    • 17-20 ounces of water 2-3 hours before exercising.
    • 8 ounces 20-30 minutes before exercising.
    • 7-10 ounces every 10-20 minutes during exercise.
    • 16-24 ounces for every pound of body weight lost after exercise.
  2. Climate: Hot and humid conditions increase fluid loss through sweating.
  3. Health Conditions: Conditions like fever, diarrhea, and diabetes can increase fluid requirements.
  4. Diet: High protein, high fiber, and high sodium diets can increase fluid needs.

Symptoms of Dehydration

  • Mild to Moderate Dehydration: Thirst, dry mouth, reduced urine output, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness, and headache.
  • Severe Dehydration: Extreme thirst, dry skin and mucous membranes, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, confusion, and unconsciousness.

Preventing Dehydration

Hydration Strategies

  1. Regular Fluid Intake: Drink water consistently throughout the day rather than waiting until you’re thirsty.
  2. Monitor Urine Color: Aim for pale yellow urine as an indicator of good hydration.
  3. Hydrate Before, During, and After Exercise: Follow recommended fluid intake guidelines for physical activity.
  4. Use Electrolyte Solutions: For prolonged exercise or high sweat rates, consider sports drinks or electrolyte powders that contain sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes.

Research on Hydration

Hydration and Health

Research has consistently shown that adequate hydration is essential for maintaining optimal health and performance. Key findings include:

  • Cognitive Function: Even mild dehydration (1-2% body weight loss) can impair cognitive functions, including concentration, alertness, and short-term memory.
  • Physical Performance: Dehydration can reduce strength, power, and endurance. Studies have demonstrated that a 2% loss in body weight due to dehydration can significantly impair athletic performance.
  • Kidney Function: Chronic dehydration can contribute to kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
  • Weight Management: Drinking water before meals can aid in weight management by promoting a sense of fullness.


Maintaining proper hydration is crucial for health, performance, and overall well-being. Understanding the causes and symptoms of dehydration, along with the recommended daily fluid intake, can help individuals prevent dehydration effectively. The general guideline of 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women is a good starting point, but individual needs may vary based on activity level, climate, and health conditions. Regular monitoring of hydration status through urine color and mindful fluid intake before, during, and after physical activity can help ensure optimal hydration.

Pickle Juice for Hydration and Cramp Prevention: An In-Depth Analysis

I use as needed, about 6 oz’s.


Pickle juice has garnered attention as a potential remedy for dehydration and muscle cramps, particularly among athletes. This interest stems from anecdotal reports and some scientific studies suggesting its benefits. This discussion delves into the science, research, and mechanisms by which pickle juice might help prevent dehydration and alleviate cramps, along with potential causes and limitations.

Composition of Pickle Juice

Pickle juice typically contains:

  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Sodium (Salt)
  • Electrolytes: Such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium
  • Acetic Acid: From vinegar

Causes of Dehydration and Muscle Cramps


Dehydration occurs when fluid loss exceeds fluid intake, leading to insufficient water and electrolyte levels in the body. Causes include:

  • Excessive Sweating: Due to heat or intense exercise
  • Inadequate Fluid Intake: Not drinking enough water
  • Medical Conditions: Such as diarrhea, vomiting, and diabetes
  • Medications: Diuretics and other medications that increase fluid loss

Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps are sudden, involuntary contractions of one or more muscles. They can be caused by:

  • Electrolyte Imbalance: Low levels of sodium, potassium, magnesium, or calcium
  • Dehydration: Reduces blood flow and oxygen to muscles
  • Overuse or Strain: Fatigue and overexertion
  • Nerve Compression: Conditions like spinal stenosis

Science and Research on Pickle Juice


Pickle juice is not typically considered a primary hydration source because it contains high levels of sodium and acetic acid, which can make it less palatable in large quantities. However, its high sodium content can be beneficial for:

  • Replenishing Electrolytes: Sodium is a crucial electrolyte lost through sweat. Consuming pickle juice can help restore sodium levels quickly.
  • Water Retention: Sodium helps retain water in the body, which can be beneficial in maintaining hydration during prolonged physical activity.

Muscle Cramps

Research on pickle juice’s effectiveness in preventing and alleviating muscle cramps is more substantial:

  1. Rapid Cramp Relief:
    • A study by Miller et al. (2010): This landmark study found that pickle juice relieved muscle cramps in athletes within 85 seconds, significantly faster than drinking water.
    • Mechanism: The rapid relief is believed to be due to a neurological reflex initiated by the vinegar in pickle juice. This reflex occurs when the vinegar activates specific receptors in the mouth and throat, sending inhibitory signals to the spinal cord and preventing the cramp from progressing.
  2. Electrolyte Replacement:
    • Pickle juice provides a quick source of sodium, which is essential for muscle function. Low sodium levels can disrupt muscle contractions, leading to cramps.

Limitations and Considerations

While pickle juice has potential benefits, there are some limitations and considerations:

  • High Sodium Content: Excessive sodium intake can be problematic for individuals with hypertension or those at risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Acidity: The acetic acid in vinegar can cause stomach discomfort or exacerbate conditions like acid reflux.
  • Palatability: The strong taste may not be appealing to everyone, making it difficult to consume in large quantities.

Best Practices for Using Pickle Juice

For those considering using pickle juice to prevent dehydration and cramps:

  1. Moderation: Use small amounts (2-3 ounces) to avoid excessive sodium intake and stomach discomfort.
  2. Timing: Consume pickle juice before or during physical activity to preemptively manage electrolyte levels and prevent cramps.
  3. Complement with Water: Combine pickle juice intake with water or other hydration strategies to ensure overall fluid balance.


Pickle juice can be a valuable tool for athletes and individuals prone to muscle cramps and dehydration. Its high sodium content helps replenish electrolytes lost through sweat, and its acetic acid component may activate a reflex that quickly alleviates muscle cramps. However, the high sodium content and strong taste require moderation, and it should be used as part of a broader hydration strategy. Research supports its effectiveness in cramp relief, but it should not be relied upon as the sole method for hydration. Always consider individual health conditions and consult with a healthcare provider if necessary.

Therapeutic Deep Tissue, Swedish Massage, Sports Injury Massage Therapy in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ca.

*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.