More water??? Dehydration can have a negative impact on our performance, alertness and concentration. This is not what we want especially if we’re making lots of decisions at work every day. Working in an air conditioned office speeds up the loss of moisture in the body so as office workers, we need to drink more liquids to accommodate this. It’s important however to make the right choices as to what fluids we are consuming.
Water should always be the first choice for staying hydrated, but how much water should you be drinking each day? Everyone’s needs are different and can depend on your level of activity, your age, how much you perspire etc. A recommendation from the Institute of Medicine is for men to drink 3 litres of fluid a day while the adequate intake for women is 2.2 litres per day. That’s the total beverage consumption per day and water should make up the majority of that figure, so start sipping from first thing in the morning.
Tea / Coffee
Teas and coffees are composed primarily of water so contribute to your daily hydration. It’s the caffeine intake you need to watch with these. Caffeine is a diuretic and can cause your body to lose more fluids. One or two cups a day up to a maximum of four is ok but you really shouldn’t be going over this figure. Try and drink tea over coffee and aim for teas with a lower caffeine level such as white tea or green tea or better yet drink herbal teas which have zero caffeine and calories.
I recommend making or buying only freshly squeezed fruit juices. The Nutribullet and equivalent juicers are very popular nowadays and I don't know how I survived before I got mine. There’s plenty of simple juice recipes online that you can find. I’m not a fan of packaged fruit juices, mainly due to the amount of added sugar or sweetener they contain. If you are drinking these then drink in moderation and supplement with plenty of water throughout the day. Bear in mind that even the natural juices you make at home can contain a lot of calories depending on the fruits and whatever else you decide to blend. Just because it's a juice doesn't mean it's calorie free!
Milk may have been a bad choice for Ron Burgundy and he may have put a lot of people off milk as a thirst quencher in the Anchorman movie, but it’s actually not the worst option when it comes to your hydration needs. Choose skimmed or fat free milk in moderation, particularly after exercise, to help you get hydrated. As well as the hydration benefits, milk is also an excellent source of calcium which supports healthy bones and teeth.
Soft Drinks / Energy Drinks
These drinks do have a water content however they should not contribute a major part of your daily fluid intake. They are usually high in sugars or artificial sweeteners and many contain caffeine. Even the drinks that claim to contain zero sugar, calories and fat are not a good option, there’s no nutritious benefit to them whatsoever and they have the same amount of caffeine as their regular counterpart.
Fruits / Vegetables
Foods such as fruits and vegetables actually contribute to your daily fluid intake. Cucumber and lettuce are made up of a whopping 96% water. Watermelon, strawberries and grapefruit contain over 90% water per volume. A great advantage of eating high water content foods is that they contain a low amount of calories and still leave you feeling full and satisfied. If you’d like some water laden fruits delivered to your office and you're based in the Dublin region then The Fruit People can sort you out.
Water makes up about 60% of the human body, so it’s essential not only to our function but to our survival! We need sufficient fluid intake on a daily basis to run like well-oiled machines, otherwise we could be left feeling drained and weak.
If you consider that we probably get about 20% of our daily fluid intake from food (add a little more if you concentrate on water rich fruits and vegetables) then we should be targeting roughly 70% of our daily fluid intake to come from water (that’s a little over 2 litres for men and around 1.5 litres for women). The remaining 10% can be made up of the other fluids listed above.
Drink regularly and sensibly. Leave a bottle of water at your desk, bring a glass of water to every meeting and drink water before and after every meal and snack.
If your pee is clear and transparent then you’re on track, if it’s dark yellow or worse then get to the water font asap!
Yours in health,
P.S I love talking about wellness so feel free to drop me a line to discuss any of the above. Contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Low Down
Brian Crooke is a wellness consultant specialising in the design, improvement and auditing of wellness initiatives for Irish businesses. He is the founder of Office Worker Health, a platform dedicated to promoting health and wellbeing to the working population.
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