!Final Warning! This is a REALLY Long Water/Hydration Post

I bet you thought I had run out of things to say to you about Bikram Yoga and hydration? HAHAHAheeheehee you ARE funny!

preamble to this post

So in this post I’m talking MichaelMoseley, dehydration, coffee, hyponatraemia, the WHO, bottled water industry, BIG sweaters, hydration (and chocolate?). The FINAL water focus post ~ read on…

Now I think Mike is great and always listen to what he has to say (and will continue to) when he’s on the box; his progs make interesting watching. But I was very disappointed in ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor broadcast 10 Oct BBC2’ his progs are turning into more ‘magazine’ snapshots and not as broadly informative/good detailed as they used to be; I waited for the other episodes to air because I was so SURE they would expand on the little nugget dropped in that first episode “It’s often said that we should drink two litres of water a day? Is it really necessary? There’s no study to suggest this is the case so it falls firmly in the “myth” category.” !! He/they even casually mentioned tea and coffee as part of hydration??? This is new to me. They spent about 90 seconds on a topic that could have made an interesting 90 minute programme. WHY didn’t they do a random hydration tests in the streets (like they did with the random hand bacteria tests)? now THAT would have been an eye opener I am sure; I have read that much of the population are walking around de-hydrated and don’t even know it. I see a sloppy broadcast like this and my poor little brain goes into overdrive! I don’t need another experience like “you have a very strong opinion for someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about” {see older post}.  I think it was not an enlightening broadcast and not comprehensive enough in this instance and I would caution BY practitioners who may have caught that broadcast especially newbies.  This post IS expansive; look away now if you’ve had enough already 🙂 …

Still with me here? Okay. Many of the studies conducted on hydration in recent years relate to the interests of competitive athletes and their need to tweak variables (nutrition, hydration) to the ‘N’th degree to gain optimal performance.

For the average person coming into a BY class at YM my guidelines stated in my previous articles about hydration still prevail at the studio. Even the World Health Organisation (the “WHO” 🙂 ) are so vague about what hydration is they seem unable to finalise a position paper.  I have contacted them but they have not got back to me {update; they NEVER got back to me}. Having trawled their site I gave up but did find an old draft paper of theirs but they have not finalized the paper or requirements.  SEE HOW DIFFICULT THIS ONE IS?? Ok so I haven’t read ALL their draft paper (you think my posts are long? Phew – YAWN) but at the age of nearly 43, having only discovered the ‘idea of proper hydration’ at 27 when I took up Bikram Yoga, never having really considered it before (yes this does happen!); the generally accepted standards do seem to have worked well for me for fifteen years now and on the whole have brought only positive benefits.

Some of you may be shocked to know that at one point in my teens there was a point when a drop of clear water never passed my lips; I never drank tea hadn’t discovered coffee 🙂 but drank 20+ cans of fizzy pop a day working in local fast food outlet; and for many years into my late 20s I lived in varying states of dehydration (but didn’t know it). Sleepless nights and ‘jittery leg’ syndrome (stop laughing; NOT funny!); how I got out of my teens un‘dissolved’ by cocacola is beyond me (well you know what it does to a steak overnight!) (yes miraculously I still have my own teeth) 🙂

BY is a ‘beginning’ Yoga class. I am teaching a beginners Yoga class (although there are many varying levels of experience in the room). So regardless of practitioner experience my guidelines for beginners and hydration at YM stand.  In individual circumstances (3 years’ experience plus/or dependent on the person) I will discuss alternative hydration approaches that they may wish to take for the class (if I am approached using the right language / I will not be led/bamboozled 🙂 ), even then under no circumstances can one enter the class without a bottle of water and sharing a bottle at YM is not permitted.

Bottom line is if you don’t come to class hydrated and you de-hydrate further you will get all sorts of symptoms.
If you are not heat acclimatized you will be in greater need of proper rehydration. In a BY class your body’s fluid loss will be very high and if the fluid is not replaced quickly you will dehydrate. Weigh yourself before and after practicing in a Bikram environment and note every 2.2lb decrease in weight should be replaced with 1L of fluid to offset the fluid loss. Of course some people just sweat more than others but ‘generally‘ speaking the fitter you are the more readily you sweat (you have better thermo regulation). So recently I weighed my biggest ‘sweat’er just as a matter of interest for him and I (before/after 3 classes) and I; he lost 10.5lbs consistently YES!! (like I said – my biggest sweater :)). I lose about 4-6-lbs dependent. In a couple of classes overseas I lost 7.5lbs! This loss is NOT sustainable; it HAS to be replaced.

HYPONATRAEMIA: Drinking too much water is a very rare problem and I have NEVER heard of an instance connected with BY. The body excretes any extra fluid it does not need. Giving high/broad press coverage to a very tragic rare occurrence of hyponatraemia I AM CONCERNED that a practitioner, inexperienced or otherwise, picking up the tail end of this BBC broadcast or any press coverage on these more recent studies might place the wrong construction or emphasis on what this means for them and transpose any changes they may adopt, incorrectly, to a BY class.

These studies are very interesting and educational. Some parts seem all out against the water/recovery drink companies and how they ‘sell’ their affect on ‘performance’. It is usually not a hard sell; you’ve sweated pints so surely it must be the right thing to replace that fluid or you will shrivel up like a prune 🙂 . But it would seem the water companies SELL factors are not scientifically based. We have all been fooled again. ‘Let us go up against the drink/water companies now’ argument sounds just about right in the current magazine programmes’ focus on how large corporations and even government have hoodwinked us for years (ref: ‘the people who made us thin’).

These studies revel in telling us that the so called studies that say water is good for this that and the other, whilst having a respectable scientific study veneer, are in fact sponsored by major mineral water companies!
They are even saying alcohol or caffeinated drinks can count towards daily water intake converse to what has been said for decades that they are diuretic. Drinking tea & coffee as PART of hydration is a new one to me and I will hold fire on this aspect of the hydration ‘case’ until I know more, because it has been my understanding that aside from the diuretic effects of it, drink over two cups coffee a day and any beneficial effects of it start to be lost.

There is a movement to “drink to thirst” for athletes with the avoidance of hyponatraemia in mind. Australian sports scientists experiment on cyclists (British Journal of Sports Medicine, Sept2013, “current hydration guidelines are erroneous: dehydration does not impair exercise performance in the heat”, Wall BA). MM was asked on twitter Q: “Drinking enough water is important…?” His Answer: “The idea we should drink 2 litres a day is a myth. Drink when you’re thirsty”… But it is still my understanding that thirst is a signal you are already dehydrated, indeed in May2012 a lady expressed this to MichaelMoseley online and he responded “Yes… that is a good rule to follow”. In this same thread another chap posted a link to http://coachjeremy.crossfitnow.com/2012/05/14/are-you-really-hydrated.aspx to which MM responded “going into our summer months this is invaluable information”. I have seen other articles in which he declares what a fan he is of drinking lots of water. There appears to be a slight inconsistency in what he says.

In most instances water is the only fluid replacement you will need but please remember electrolytes are NOT a performance enhancing drink; they help with fast rehydration and this is a priority in BY where profuse sweating can occur for 90 minutes.  

I have understood that if your urine is less than IL in 24 hours your body is conserving water; this and color are supposed to be the simple means of determining your hydration status. {update 2022; recent BBC4 radio programme 2 doctors saying the NHS urine/colour chart is absolutely useless indicator of hydration and they don’t know why NHS continues to run with it perpetuating this myth; but this is nothing new this perpetuating useless/outdated information by people in authority; however I am no expert and not in a position to dismiss it entirely not having done any research so would just say don’t put all your eggs in the ‘clear wee’ basket as a measure for optimal health/hydration! 🙂 }.

If any of these studies/programmes pose a dilemma for you I would encourage you to experiment to find out what your own particular water needs are given your activity, body size and other fluid intake and then trust your own judgment.  Experiment, not with NOT hydrating but with HOW MUCH hydration you as an individual need day to day and then consider how much you lose in a BY class and add that on top.

These current findings may well be true for some BUT just think; we ALL know that a few days without water we will die.

Regarding the bottled water/drinks industry – we don’t have to ‘go up against them’. You just don’t have to have a relationship with them if you do not agree with their ethics or modus operandi – drink filtered water from your tap / make your own electrolyte (then there are the local water companies / sourcing right sodium issues /over fluoridation to contend with or not? sigh…it never ends…).

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK; do what is right for you. I am not out to prove anything; just to caution individuals in the BY circle to think a bit more before adopting all this broadcast’s statements as holding a truth for them. So if you like I am just adding to the food for thought and encourage practitioners to find their own truth before making a conscious decision on this one.

There might be another movement next year, say “government cover up: chocolate really does meet all your nutrition needs” 🙂 . Ok, don’t quote this ~ I am just being hopeful! (Did you think I forgot to talk chocolate? Ah bless 🙂 ~)

Please know there is more to hydration than drinking water (see my other posts) but Please Please don’t abandon drinking water.
Namaste ~ Trisha

October 2013