Have you come off of a scuba dive before and had that feeling that you are ready to eat the biggest plate of food possible ? You get some grub, sit down for a moment, eat, and then boom! All you want to do is sleep. Sound familiar? Even if you haven’t been scuba diving before, maybe you are planning a dive certification on vacation and what to maximize everything during your day. The last thing you want is to be so exhausted the rest of the day, so you end up wasting a whole afternoon. So, we thought we’d give you some info on staying hydrated and healthy during your scuba diving experience, that way you can maximize your time on vacation.
We all know that our body is made up of 70% water and we need a good supply of it to stay hydrated. Now you will have heard before that drinking 2 liters of water a day is a good thing. Well, think about the fact that you could be in or visiting a hot humid climate plus the fact you would be breathing compressed air. This is going to require a bigger intake.
When your body does not receive enough water it gets mixed signals on hunger. Dehydration can cause you to feel hunger, when in reality your body is craving for water. Add to that, if you don’t drink enough water your body will feel tired.
All divers when they have completed their dive usually are suffering from a certain degree of dehydration. Upon entering the ocean to start with, you will start to dehydrate as due to the salt water it will have an osmotic effect on your body. This is the effect that, as the salt concentration in the ocean is so much higher than your own body, when you get into the water, it begins to draw out the moisture from your body so dehydrating you.
When you are breathing compressed air you will dehydrate even more. Have you ever breathed on a mirror and seen it fog up? That is the moisture in your breath. Now, with the compressed air that we breathe from scuba tanks, it goes through a number of filters and dryers to make it as pure and clean as possible, which included removing moisture. As you, the diver breathe this air into your lungs, moisture moves from your body into the air to saturate it, so again dehydrating you even more. Now we add in the hot climate where you could be sweating out that additional water and we have a whole combination of dehydration factors. For a hot humid climate it is recommended to drink up to twice as much.
So, what can you do to combat this?
Ideally, to stay hydrated you need to have a gradual intake of water, as drinking a lot, when you are not used to it is not good for you either. If you start hydrating the day before that is a great idea with a gradual intake of water or 2 liters of water (more if in a hot climate, and an FYI, coffee doesn’t count!). On the day of your dive, consume half a liter when you wake up and then take an additional quarter of a litre before you start the dive. You would then need an additional liter of water either between dives, after dives or combo thereof. Sounds like a lot? Not really, and you will find you will feel so much more refreshed after the dives and for the rest of your dive and that is the goal right?
So here are some summary key points to think about:
- Avoid caffeine when you will be diving as this will dehydrate you as will alcohol.
- Drink extra water the night before and then before, during and after the dive.
- Take a bottle of water with you – whilst nearly all dive boats have water onboard, this will enable you to monitor exactly how much water you are drinking. And just an environmental point, try not to buy a plastic one, lets go reusable!
- Don’t put a wetsuit on until you have to, as overheating and sweating in a hot climate is not good. Dunk the wetsuit before you put it on as well to keep you cooler.