The function of sugar in hydration:
There’s the obvious function which is to give you an easy supply of energy after physically exerting yourself, which is why sports drinks and other hydration powders have a high sugar content. But Hydrant has roughly a third of the sugar in sports drinks, so that’s not what we’re going for.
We’ve added sugar specifically because it can speed up your rehydration.
This iconic quote from the journal article “Water with sugar and salt” in The Lancet (a big medical journal) on August 5, 1978 pretty much sums it up: “The discovery that sodium transport and glucose transport are coupled in the small intestine, so that glucose accelerates absorption of solute and water, was potentially the most important medical advance this century.”
Let’s break it down: when sugar is present, the speed that your body can absorb electrolytes and water is increased.
In more depth:
- The wall of your small intestine has transporter proteins in it.
- When they encounter a ratio of 2 sodium : 1 glucose molecules, the transporter is activated, and all 3 molecules are pumped into the bloodstream.
- This creates what is called osmotic pressure. Water in your body always wants to be “balanced”, so it moves to areas where there are more particles.
- By moving more sodium and glucose molecules into the bloodstream, the water (which doesn’t need a transporter protein), moves into the bloodstream through osmosis.
- So rather than waiting for natural absorption of the nutrients and water, your body can accelerate it.
Don’t be put off by this diagram, it’s super simple.
Image By OpenStax [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The cup on the left has different concentrations of molecules in the solution on either side of the membrane (which represents your intestine wall). The transporter proteins we talked about earlier make the concentration different like this by pumping the sodium and glucose into your bloodstream. That causes water to move via osmosis to the side with higher concentration as shown, to even out the concentrations (space between molecules).
This is why our Hydrant powder contains sugar. Without it, your rehydration speed would be significantly slower, and we designed Hydrant to be fast and effective.
Description of glucose absorption in the gut: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5371619/
Role of sodium-glucose transporters in glucose uptake of the intestine and kidney: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4019254/pdf/jdi-3-352.pdf
ORS vs Intravenous rehydration: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC419333/