ADVICE

How to stay hydrated

Reviewed by our expert panel
Woman drinking water out of a bottle

Feeling bloated, sluggish or moody? This could be a sign you need to drink more water. Healthy Food Guide decants some cool hydration tricks.

Let’s face it, drinking enough water every day can be a challenge. But if you want to keep your body and mind in top condition, keeping hydrated is key. Read on to discover the best ways to up your H2O intake.

Every drop counts

The human body is made up of almost 80 per cent water, but there’s a catch. It can’t store water for use later on, so we need to constantly replenish its supply. That’s the reason why water is considered an essential nutrient. We need water for multiple bodily functions: it gives structure to our cells, aids digestion and helps to remove waste. It also plays a role in helping to ensure our bloodstream stays fluid, as well as keeping our joints healthy. Plus, water is vital for regulating body temperature.

Despite the very important role water plays in maintaining good health, the average person’s intake is just over one litre a day. Given the recommended intake is two litres for females, and just over two and half litres for males, this means many of us are falling well short of our daily requirements. And during the warmer months, these water requirements become even greater.

5 factors that contribute to dehydration

1. Sweating more

When we sweat we need to drink more water, even if our level of physical activity remains unchanged, because we lose moisture through our sweat.

2. Exercise

Any physical activity that works up a sweat makes our body lose moisture that needs to be replaced. Whatever type of exercise you’re engaging in, make sure you bring along a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated.

3. Drinking alcohol

Alcohol leads to frequent urination, which accelerates dehydration. Try to have a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume. This will not only help keep you from overdoing the alcohol, it’ll replace what you lose through the effects of alcohol consumption. It might help you avoid a hangover too!

4. Salty foods

Chips, cheese and savoury crackers are tasty snacks but these foods are high in sodium, which causes water retention that can make you feel sluggish.

5. Change of routine

As the holidays approach, a less structured routine means we miss our usual opportunities for drinking water. While on holidays, we might be less likely to drink water because we’re not sitting at a desk with a glass of water on it. So, set yourself a reminder on your phone to have a glass of H2O.

Spot the signs of dehydration

Sweating, urinating and even breathing all cause significant water loss, which is why it’s so important to drink water every day to avoid dehydration. By the time you start to feel thirsty, your body is probably already dehydrated. But there are plenty of other telltale signs that indicate dehydration. Keep an eye out for the following:

  • Dark yellow urine If you’re drinking enough water, your urine should be a very pale, straw-yellow colour, not dark.
  • Frequent headaches Instead of reaching for a painkiller, a glass of water might be all you need to ease headache pain.
  • Dry and flaky skin The more you drink, the better the blood supply to your skin, resulting in a glowing complexion.
  • Mood changes and feeling irritable, tired or lethargic

6 ways to stay hydrated

Struggling to get enough fluids? You don’t need sports drinks or supplements to stay hydrated. Plain old water is your best bet! Here are six tips to help you stay on top of your H2O game.

1. Carry a water bottle

Packing a reusable water bottle in your bag that you can top up when you’re out and about is a convenient, environmentally friendly and inexpensive way to stay rehydrated. Freeze it the night before or add some ice cubes to help keep it cool all day long.

2. Spice it up

Want to give plain water a little healthy flavour? Add some fresh herbs, such as mint or basil, or some fresh fruit, such as lime and orange slices or fresh whole raspberries. Combinations of fresh mint and lime or raspberry and fresh basil work a treat! Alternatively, make a big pot of fruit-infused herbal tea, then cool overnight.

3. Have a reminder

When you’re busy at work, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water. Keep a glass of water on your desk as a reminder to sip regularly. As a bonus, you’ll be increasing your step count as you refill it (and make regular trips to the loo!) throughout the day.

4. Make it a habit

Just woke up? Have a glass of water. About to leave the house? Have a glass of water. Finished a meal? Drink a glass of water! Associating water consumption with daily activities is an easy way to increase your water intake.

5. Snack smart

Between-meal bites are great for getting extra fluids. Try homemade ice blocks made with fresh fruit and coconut water or a smoothie made with milk, fresh fruit and ice.

6. Make a meal of it

Many fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of water, particularly celery, cabbage, tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber. So make a chilled gazpacho or cucumber soup for dinner, or serve meals with a garden salad made with lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

 

Did you know?

You can get about 20 per cent of your total water requirements from solid foods alone.

First published: Dec 2021

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