It may be the rainy season as we write this, but we should never let our guard down when it comes to hydration. Our climate still has higher ambient temperatures and humidity, thereby causing dehydration. Besides, riding a motorcycle is a physical affair.
Dehydration causes us to lose focus and bring on the onset of grogginess. Both these factors are already dangerous for any road user, what more us riders. Problem is, the effects of dehydration show up progressively and we will be feeling sleepy by then. So, always keep yourselves hydrated.
However, what should we drink to stave off dehydration? There are do’s and don’ts of course. We start with the don’ts because they are always easier to remember.
1. Alcoholic drinks
You have no business of being on the road if you consume alcoholic drinks. Besides having the alcohol clouding one’s judgement i.e. being drunk, it dehydrates the body faster than all beverages. The body produces anti-diuretic hormones (ADH) to hold fluids in the kidneys. But alcohol suppresses this ADH, causing the kidneys to release the fluids. This is why one keeps urinating when he or she drinks. Consequently, the person becomes dehydrated (the hangover is one symptom). It is of course fine if one should drink when not riding, but make sure to replace the lost fluids and get plenty of rest before riding the next day.
2. Energy drinks
We do not deny that a can or two of energy drinks keeps on from feeling drowsy. However, these beverages are chockful of caffeine and “fake” sugars that are diuretic. Some people experience the continuous need to urinate after consuming these drinks. Do follow up with plenty of drinking water the next time you are thirsty and do not ever replace drinking water with these.
3. Soft drinks
Soft drinks are always advertised as being refreshing. We cannot deny our palates craving for a sweet tasting drink especially after riding in the heat. But remember, soft drinks usually contain caffeine and that “fake” sugar we spoke of in energy drinks (albeit at lower amounts). That sweetener we keep speaking of is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which replaces cane sugar as it is much sweeter and cheaper to produce. It has been blamed for the increase of obesity and diabetes in many countries.
4. Coffee or tea
Malaysians have an affinity for sweet drinks, and they include the ever favourite “tehtarik” (“pulled” milk tea) and “teh ais” (iced milk tea). Again, sugar acts as a diuretic by causing the body to dump excessive sugar through urine. In fact, the first symptoms of diabetes are excessive thirst and need to urinate, thereby dehydrating the body.
As for caffeine, it causes receptors in the brain to block out the sleep inducing hormone called adenosine. Consequently, one feels awake. Caffeine also increases flood flow but this increased blood flow to the kidneys causes them to release more fluids through urine.
Some sugar is fine as it provides energy, as with caffeine staves off drowsiness (albeit for a while). So, consume moderately and follow up with water.
5. Smoothies/Milkshakes/Ice Blends/Bubble Teas
Smoothies are based on fruit juices, so why is it wrong? Answer: Sugar. Milkshakes? Same answer: Sugar. Ice blends: Also sugar. Bubble teas: Sugar, what else?
Water is the best choice for hydration, obviously. It helps the body in regulating temperature, replenishes lost fluids and flushes out toxins. Water does not provide energy,of course, thus you may mix in glucose at moderate amounts. This writer does so on every ride including during the annual GIVI Adventure convoys.
2. Isotonic drinks
Isotonic drinks replenish the body’s electrolytes that are required by the body’s cells to function properly. The cells communicate via electrical pulses therefore electrolytes contain sodium (salt), among others. But again, please drink in moderation.
3. Coconut water
The coconut consists of 95% water which also includes electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium. Being so, Southeast Asians have long known its benefits to cooling the body. However, do drink it without sugar.
The meat contains fats and 89% of it is saturated. But most of these fats are of the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) variety that are absorbed by the intestines and produces energy.
Watermelon juice has 92% water, but it also has many great benefits due to its high nutritional contents. Consuming the fruit improves heart health, lower inflammation, reduce oxidative stresses, prevent macular degeneration and relieve muscle soreness. So, this is the drink/fruit one should consume if one finds his muscles aching after a ride. But again, please ask for “takmau gula” (no sugar please).
We can understand why milk does not spring to mind when it comes to hydration. The liquid is thick and leaves a slightly sour aftertaste. But truth is, it also provides energy besides calcium and vitamins. The energy is due to milk’s protein, carbohydrate and fat content, specified in calories. Full cream milk has the highest calories; less in low fat milk and none in skim milk. Also, do drink white milk instead of the flavoured ones as the latter contains sugar.