Avoiding dehydration is critical to good health and maintaining daily physical and mental function. Here are seven tips to help maintain hydration levels.
- Tailor fluid intake guidelines to fit your lifestyle
While the recommended daily fluid intake is 2.6-litres for an adult male or 2.1 litres for an adult female, this can vary depending on lifestyle and other factors. People who are highly active will need more fluids to stay hydrated, as do those who are exercising in hot or humid conditions where broad fluid consumption guidelines are recommend 250-300mL every 15-20 minutes – although a tailored program is recommended.
- Consider what you eat
Regular, healthy meals help your body stay hydrated while food also triggers fluid consumption. Milk, tea, soup, juice and fruits contribute to daily fluid intake, as do most other solid foods.
However caffeine, high salt foods and high-protein diets can increase the risk of dehydration and should be consumed in moderation.
- Where possible, have cool drinks
Studies have shown that cool beverages (<22°C) are more appealing and are consumed more than warm drinks when exercising. Freezing bottles the night before or having cold fluids on site are easy ways to make hydration more attractive.
- Choose drinks you like
Another study has shown that flavoured beverages at ambient temperature are consumed at the same rate as chilled water. While enjoying the taste of a beverage encourages fluid intake and improves hydration, it is important to be wary of consuming too many sugary drinks.
Health risks of sugary drinks include obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart and kidney disease, and stroke. Low-sugar or zero-sugar drinks should be chosen over soft drinks, energy drinks and high-sugar sports drinks.
- Drink regularly instead of excessively
Sporadically consuming excessive amounts of water during and after physical activity is not a good hydration strategy and the overconsumption of water without replacing lost electrolytes can lead to hyponatremia, a serious condition where salt levels in the body become too low.
- Replenish sodium (salt) and electrolytes
Sodium and other electrolytes are mostly lost through perspiration and it is necessary to replace them to ensure good mental and physical performance.
Regular healthy eating plays an important role in doing this, however during prolonged exercise or heat exposure an electrolyte drink is beneficial as a fast and easy method of replenishing lost electrolytes.
Furthermore, some electrolyte drinks contain added branch chain amino acids which are necessary for the body and improve physical and mental performance.
- Don’t rely exclusively on thirst
Thirst is not always the most reliable sign of dehydration and you are likely already dehydrated by the time you are thirsty. In the workplace, implementing a programmed drinking schedule is recommended.
Furthermore, the risk of dehydration increases in winter because cold weather suppresses the body’s sensitivity to thirst.
It is important to know the other signs of dehydration which include heavy sweating, dark urine, dry mouth and skin, dizziness, headaches and confusion or loss of focus.
For more information, download a copy of THORZT’s Workplace Dehydration white paper.