Does Alcohol Dehydrate You?- A Nutritionist’s Opinion

Expectations: Boozed-up all night, enjoying and then sleeping like no one’s watching!

Reality: Headaches, irritation, and excessive thirst in the middle of the night or the next morning

That’s what alcohol does to your body and health in just a night. Alcohol may seem a fun drink to grab on, but it has serious drawbacks if not consumed in moderation. One of the most talked-about of all is dehydration and its after-effects.

Does Alcohol Dehydrate You? 

Simply put, YES. Alcohol removes water and important nutrients from your body and can cause severe dehydration making the person devoid of major electrolytes and fluids.

There is a whole mechanism of how alcohol causes dehydration in the body. But to think above that, no one’s asking you to quit on your adult beverage. The idea is to stay within the required limits and avoid dehydration.

Why is Alcohol Dehydrating?

Before getting to know how alcohol dehydrates your brain, it’s important to know what dehydration is and what it does.

Dehydration occurs when your body doesn’t get enough fluids and electrolytes or when you lose them more quickly than they can be replaced. More than simple water intake, dehydration is about losing electrolytes like sodium and potassium which are the key source of hydration.

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How does alcohol cause dehydration? Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it causes more urination. Increased urination means more expelling of fluids and body electrolytes.

In addition to diuretic effects, alcohol is responsible for inhibiting the production of vasopressin which is an antidiuretic hormone (ADH).

ADH regulates and controls the water-retaining and absorbing capacity of kidneys. When alcohol causes a decrease in vasopressin, the body loses its capacity to retain water effectively.

This results in excess water and electrolytes expelling from the body. The more your body fluid system is imbalanced, the more you will feel dehydrated resulting in fatigue, headaches, diarrhea, etc. 

This dehydration from alcohol also affects the brain by causing mental confusion and reduction in thinking capabilities.

How to recognize Alcohol Dehydration?

As discussed above, dehydration brings with it the following symptoms-

When it comes to alcohol dehydration symptoms, there are some additional pointers you need to watch out for. These are-

These alcohol dehydration symptoms take a toll on the body physically and mentally and they do it quickly. So, your response towards avoiding them needs to be quicker.

How to avoid alcohol-related dehydration?

According to research, 10 grams of alcohol makes you produce 100 mL (3.38 fl. oz.) of urine. 

Referencing the data from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and alcoholism, a standard drink—12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of liquor—has 14 grams of alcohol.

In other words, the alcohol alone in one standard drink can make your body produce a little less than half a cup of pee.

The data shows how serious the effects of alcohol is on your body and thus avoiding this alcohol-related dehydration in the first place is the smart choice here. 

Here are some ways by which you can prevent alcohol-related dehydration-

  • Do not drink on empty stomachs. Make sure you consume some light snacks beforehand, especially the ones rich in Vitamin C  and protein.
  • Avoid dark liquors like whiskey and brandy. These have high levels of tannins which induce dehydration faster.
  • Make sure you’re well-hydrated before your set for a booze trip. Your body needs water for its normal functions regardless of whether you’re drinking alcohol so it’s advised to remain as hydrated as you can so you don’t pass out too soon.
  • Sports drinks or energy drinks can be a better alternative for your alcoholic beverages. This favors adequate hydration and reduces the impacts of a night of drinking.
  • Allow your body to take proper sleep and rest. Due to excessive drinking, there may be headaches and dehydration, and many other undesirable symptoms. So, sound sleep is important to relax and rebound from the hangover.

How to prevent dehydration?

Here are some quick tips you can take hold of to prevent the effect of dehydration-

  • Ensure you know about your drinking capacity. Everybody has different process mechanisms of alcohol. When you know it’s your saturation, stop right there.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. Yes, you can handle more but your health calls for a limited optimum amount which is set as 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men.
  • You can opt for some simple alcohol dehydration treatments like reaching for Oral Rehydration Solution or a quick sip of your favorite electrolyte or energy drink to replenish electrolytes and fluids.

Moreover, you can also switch to NSAIDs like Ibuprofen. This reduces the incidences of headaches and prevents hangovers.

  • Involve some feel-good, light exercises in your daily routine to boost your metabolism and flush the alcohol out of your body.

Take away message

The answer to the question ‘does alcohol dehydrate you’ lies within your instincts and your capacity to consume alcohol.

To sum up, all your doubts, limiting alcohol consumption is the best way to prevent dehydration. Do not follow the crowd. 

For a few hours of fun and hangover, risking your health is definitely not worth it!

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