In the previous article, we spoke about how important breakfast is, and making sure your fluids, nutrients and sugars are topped up, when you wake up. But, we didn’t get a chance to mention how important it is to stay hydrated too!

Below a certain level of hydration, the brain doesn’t function as well as it should, making a person feel weak, tired, confused and have mood swings and headaches.

Dehydration can adversely affect cognitive capacity and interfere with perception, spatial ability, attention, immediate memory and brain/physical interaction – pretty much anything you use your brain for!

Every day, the average person loses 2-3 litres of water through sweating, breathing and urinating. If your office is air-conditioned, you’ll be losing more fluids than you would in more humid environment; because the air-conditioning removes the moisture from the air, and when you breathe, the dry air pulls moisture from your lungs. So, even if you’re not thirsty or hot, you’re still losing fluids, and need to top it up. Drinking 8 glasses of water is a myth, because

there is no solid evidence to support this contention. The European Food Safety Authority recommends a daily intake of 2.5 litres for men, and 2 litres for women (70-80% coming from fluids, the rest from food sources, see image).

However, there is no set amount of water a person should drink in a day. It varies depending on age, climate, diet, physical activity and more. But one thing to remember is – if you wait until you are thirsty to have water, you are already dehydrated!

Drinking that volume of water alone can seem difficult, so here are some ways to vary your source of hydration;

• Use a fruit cordial with low levels of sugar and additives
• Add a slice of lemon / lime/ orange / cucumber to your water to add flavour and fragrance
• Have a glass of water with your tea and coffee (and your wine, beer etc.)
• Fruit and some veg contain a lot of water (Cucumber and lettuce are 96% water and tomatoes are 94%) so are great additions to your meals.
• Milk has been known to be the best hydrator, although as it contains protein, sugar and fat, it is best used as a contributor to hydration, rather than something to drink all day.

Pick your beverage wisely! Things like tea and coffee may be improving your performance and waking you up, but they are also diuretics, contributing to dehydration. Alcohol is also a huge contributor to dehydration, like other diuretics it encourages the kidneys to expel more than you have drunk, meaning the amount of fluid you pee can be 4 times as much as the amount of alcohol you drink. Fizzy drinks, fruit juices, smoothies and coconut water are often loaded with sugar and leave you feeling thirstier than before you drank it.

Staying hydrated is easier said than done, so here are a few tips on how to;

• Keep a water bottle with you – just remember to drink it!
• Snack on fruit and some veg which contain a lot of water

Your urine is a great indicator of how hydrated or dehydrated you are. Your urine should be a light yellow colour, any darker then it’s a sign you should be drinking more water. Not to mention, coffee/tea/water breaks are a great way to network with colleagues during work. So whenever you get your morning coffee, or an afternoon tea, just grab a glass of water too!

Woman drinking water: PopSugar Photography
Water rich foods: Tanya Stroh
Lemon Water: She and Style