Water makes up a large amount of our body (approximately 60-70%). It is used to regulate our body temperature (via sweating), transport nutrients and other compounds in the blood, remove waste products (via urine), aid with digestion, protect our organs and joints and keep our bowels regular.
We lose water everyday through processes such as breathing, sweating, urinating and bowel movements. Therefore it is no surprise that being dehydrated can have both physical and mental effects on the body such as thirst, tiredness, dizziness, headache, irritability, the inability to concentrate and digestive issues. Overhydration can also have a negative effect on the body.
It is recommended that the average person drinks approximately 8-10 cups of fluid daily.
Staying hydrated is especially important as we live in a hot/humid climate which increases our water losses via sweating. Furthermore, if you are a very active person, hydrating before, during and after your exercise sessions is key. Drinking adequate fluids is important as well if you work outdoors (e.g. construction, gardening).
Younger children and older adults should also be reminded to drink fluids regularly throughout the day. When you are unwell for example fever, vomiting and/or diarhoea, it is also very important to drink lots of fluids to replace what is lost.
If you find it difficult to meet your daily fluid goals, below are some tips to help you achieve this:
1. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink as this is often too late and you may be already dehydrated.
2. Carry a reusable bottle around with you at all times and sip at regular intervals during the day.
3. Set reminders on your phone or use an app to encourage you to drink sufficient water.
4. Try to have a glass of water with each of your meals.
5. If you have difficulty drinking plain water, add to fruits, vegetables or herbs to enhance its flavor e.g. lemon/lime slices, rosemary, mint or basil, cucumber.
6. Regularly incorporate fruits and vegetables that have a high water content into your meals and snacks such as:
>Watermelon, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, pineapple, banana, grapes and pears
>Lettuce, cucumbers, cabbage, celery, spinach/bhaji, patchoi, carrots and broccoli
7. Aim for pale yellow colored urine, which should indicate that you are drinking enough. If it is dark in colour, you need to drink more fluids.
Apart from the quantity of fluids that we consume, we must also consider the type (see our Healthy Hydration poster below).
Water should be our first choice but unsweetened juice, smoothies, tea, coffee, soups and broths and milk can also provide us with fluid throughout the day.
Limit soft drinks, malted drinks, juice drinks and energy drinks as these are high in sugar which can damage our teeth, and increase one’s risk of diabetes and overweight/obesity if consumed in large quantities. You should also be mindful of how much sugar, condensed milk and/or honey that you add to your hot beverages. Try not to exceed 3-4 cups of caffeinated drinks daily and 2 cups if you are pregnant.
Produced June 2022 by Zara Suite-Stewart RD
In addition to having a healthy, balanced diet, don’t forget to drink enough fluids to preserve your health.
Hydration – British Nutrition Foundation
Fluid Food Fact Sheet (bda.uk.com)
Urine Color: What It Says About Your Health – Cleveland Clinic
Handout (pennutrition.com) Guidelines for Drinking Fluids to Stay Hydrated
How Much Water Do You Need (eatright.org)
CPE Monthly: Dehydration, Cognition, and Health – Today’s Dietitian Magazine (todaysdietitian.com)