Smart hydration strategies at work
Updated: Apr 12
Why do we need to hydrate?
Fluid is an essential nutrient. If you don’t consume enough you will become dehydrated. Signs of dehydration include thirst and a dry sticky mouth. But other effects include tiredness, poor concentration, headache and dizziness or light headedness. This will in turn effect your ability to be productive, creative and alert whilst working. Research suggests that even mild dehydration can reduce cognitive performance.
How much do we need?
The European Food Safety Authority recommends a total water intake:
- 2 litres for women
- 2.5 litres for men
These are typical values and include the fluid we get through food. An individual’s requirement will depend on many factors including temperature, humidity and exercise.
If you are working in a warm room at home e.g. one that heats up quickly in the sun, this will increase the need for fluid as it increases evaporation of moisture from the body. If you are doing heavy or strenuous work like construction or landscaping you may lose more fluid through sweating. Long distance driving or working in controlled environments can effect how much access you have to water.
How do you know if you are dehydrated?
Thirst is only one way our bodies help control hydration in the body. When we have a drink we feel the benefits quickly but we may not have fully rehydrated ourselves.
It is best to use the colour of your urine to indicate whether you are drinking enough: it should be a straw or pale yellow colour.
Chart courtesey of:
Tap water or bottled water?
Plain tap water in the UK is perfectly safe to drink (chilling or filtering can make if more pleasant). Bottled water is not more superior in terms of hydration abilities (plus can increase plastic use).
Try to avoid high sugar fizzy drinks where possible
If you don't like water try add some fresh mint or cucumber
Fill a bottle to keep on your desk, in your car or wherever you work (add ice to keep it cooler for longer)
Opt for low or no sugar varieties of drinks including flavoured water
Herbal and fruit teas count as fluid (beware some have caffeine in them)
Have a glass of water each time you have a hot drink
Skimmed or semi skimmed milk can be a satisfying alternative as can milk alternatives e.g. oat, almond or soya milks (opting for the unsweetened where possible)
Fruit juice or smoothies can also count as one of your 5-a-day however it is recommended to only have a 150mls portion daily
Soups can also provide fluid as can vegetables such as cucumber as they have a high water content
Tea and coffee can also count towards your fluid intake. Up to 400mg of caffeine a day (4-5 cups of filtered coffee) is not thought to be dehydrating. It is recommend that in pregnancy caffeine intake is kept to below 200mg a day.
A note on alcohol
If you are drinking more alcohol due to lockdown remember that it makes you pass more urine and this can make you more likely to become dehydrated. Remember to try and drink low sugar non-alcoholic drinks or water when drinking alcohol.