Hydration refers to the body’s ability to maintain fluid balance. An increasing number of people do not drink enough fluid during the day to remain hydrated and this can have various side effects, including headaches and lack of concentration. If you are just 2% dehydrated you can be up to 20% less productive.
Within the body, water is responsible for many functions and processes such as controlling your temperature, digestive function, controlling waste products and it transports essential nutrients and oxygen around the body. In short, water is the most important substance for the body to stay alive. Without enough water, we would not be able to survive. When the body becomes dehydrated common side effects include headaches, tiredness, dry lips and skin, mood swings and also feelings of confusion.
The best way to determine whether you are dehydrated is to look at the colour of your urine. It should be a pale yellow colour. If it is dark then you are dehydrated and you need to drink more water. Also, if you find you don’t go to the toilet too often or when you do go you only pass a small amount of urine, you could be dehydrated. Staying hydrated is extremely important and the recommended amount of fluid is 1.5-2 litres a day (usually closer to 2.5 litres for men). When exercising use the rule of 1 litre of water for every 1 hour of physical exercise and you should double intake on hot summer days.
Water is the best drink to improve hydration; however, you can also try alternatives such as squash, milk, juices or teas. Be aware of the amount of sugar in these drinks though. Always aim to try and moderate the number of drinks you consume which contain caffeine as they act as a diuretic causing you to go to the toilet and become dehydrated further!
Top tips to help you stay hydrated
- When you wake up in the morning you will be dehydrated, try and get into a routine of drinking a glass of water or squash before any other drinks.
- Carry a bottle of water with you or have a glass on your desk – if it is in sight you are more likely to drink it!
- Have a glass of water with each meal
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as they contain water
- If you are in a hot environment or exercising make sure you drink extra fluid