Staying safe and staying hydrated

I cannot recall when it was that I first read the Diver’s Alert Network report that highlighted the possible contributions of diver dehydration to decompression sickness events. I simply recall thinking it made sense. At the time I was running competitively as a citizen racer and I had first-hand experience of the negative effects of dehydration on overall performance on the track (or road). As an open-circuit diver –often pulling decompression obligations in excess of 45 minutes and occasionally up to several hours – I was certainly aware of the general discomfort experienced when I had neglected to drink several litres of fluid in the buildup to a “big” dive. Then as now, it also made sense to promote in-water rehydration during any dive demanding deco stops of more than a few minutes, and my buddies and I would throw a handful of freezies (glucose, water and food color) in a mesh bag tied to the upline for most of our dives.

Nowadays, many divers hang a camelBak at six metres or carry one attached to a stage bottle on long-duration dives. There is simply never any debate about whether or not in-water hydration is a good idea… or any resistance to ramping up fluid intake for at least a day before diving. The question is: what to drink?

In the past, my dive buddies and I have tried everything from water, orange juice, and dilute sports drinks to pouches of piña colada and sangria. They all have their place but during a recent cave-diving trip to North Florida, a handful of friends and I field-tested Diver’s D\Lyte™.

Diver’s D\Lyte is a specially formulated drink designed specifically for divers. It comes in powder form in single serving sachets that are small, easy to pack into a dive bag, do not break or leak, and can be “reconstituted” at the dive site by adding to a litre (about a quart) of fresh water. John Dooley (the company’s managing director) sent me a box of samples to test earlier in the summer but this trip was the first opportunity to try his product over several days and among a pretty diverse group of divers.

Dooley explains that the recipe for his “performance drink” contains no caffeine and no sugar, but it does have a bunch of good-for-you ingredients including high-dose vitamins and minerals – among them, A, C, B6, B12, folic acid, magnesium, potassium et al – as well as a big dose of anti-oxidents.

“Diver’s D\Lyte also contains potent amino acids and plant-derived adaptogens,” which according to Dooley, “activate proteins in the body to protect it against oxidative stress.”

Biology was never my strong suit – too many variables and too little mathematics for me – so I cannot comment on the science of Diver’s D\Lyte, but I can share the feedback from our little gang.

Overall, it was positive. Essentially, we agreed that ANYTHING that promotes good hydration and which helps make an extra litre of fluid more palatable is a good thing. The taste (we had natural orange flavor) is different to most of the sport drinks – probably due to some of that plant-derived stuff – but most of our group liked it. Certainly there was none of the after-taste that a lot of folks get from artificial sweeteners and flavorings. It was more of an herbal taste and it does grow on you. (Sorry for that!)

After some experimenting, I found that doubling the suggested dilution rate – I mixed one sachet to two litres of water rather than one – made it exactly to my taste. I also reasoned that one sachet of Diver’s D\Lyte a day was probably maxing out the suggested daily intake of some vitamins. Making it last for two fills of the water bottle (or one fill of the two-litre camelBak) was a good idea.

I cannot comment on any of our team’s resistance to free-radicals or energy levels with or without, before or after drinking D\Lyte, since we did no blind or controlled tests. But here’s the bottom line. I figure that staying safe when it comes to technical diving is all about percentages and weighting the odds in your favor. A couple of points either way can make or break your day.

So, since we all agree that hydration seems to give us an edge against DCS and helps to increase energy levels, if Diver’s D\Lyte helps to promote hydration – and I found my overall fluid uptake was on the high-side of normal during “test week” – then that can’t be a bad thing now can it?

Your mileage may vary but give it a try. Contact for details and a list of retailers.


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