By Lucy Gornall
Most of us probably need to drink more water. A study by Evian earlier this year found that just 22% of Americans drink enough water daily, whilst research published by Britvic last year revealed that more than a third of Brits go an entire day without drinking any H20. Shocked? Us too.
Dr Sarah Brewer, a nutritionist and Medical Director at Healthspan, explains that water is vital for health. ‘Around 55% of our weight is water,’ she reveals, adding that according to the Institute of Health and Productivity Management, a 1% decrease in your hydration level can lower the amount of work you produce by up to 20%.
A good rule of thumb to assess how hydrated you are is to go by the colour of your urine.
‘An early warning sign of dehydration is passing less urine than normal, and which is darker in colour. Aim to drink sufficient fluid to maintain normal volume of urine which is pale coloured,’ says Dr Brewer.
Although there is currently no agreement on the amount of fluid we need on a daily basis, Dr Brewer adds: ‘The amount of water an adult loses during an averagely active day is around 2.5 to 3 liters.
‘To replace this amount, you ideally need to drink at least two liters (eight glasses) of water per day.'
It’s worth nothing that vigorous exercise and hot weather can mean your body needs twice this amount of fluid.
‘As a general rule of thumb, for every 20 minutes of exercise you take during the day, your fluid intake should increase by a further 250ml (8oz),’ says Dr Brewer.
Plus, older adults and seniors can have a reduced or impaired sense of thirst, meaning they can be at greater risk of dehydration.
‘As a result, fluid intake should be strongly encouraged amongst this particular population group to minimise the risk of dehydration as much as possible,’ says Georgia Head, nutritionist at Fresh Fitness Food.
But whilst it’s easy to say ‘drink more water’, it’s not always that simple. Try these expert approved tips to increase your fluid intake, the easy way...
1. Add some flavour to your water
Plain old water can be well, a bit plain. An easy way to drink more water - and actually enjoy it - is by adding flavour with fruit, vegetables or herbs.
Georgia recommends chopping up your chosen ingredients, adding to your bottle or jug of water and leaving it to work it’s magic in the fridge for a few hours. ‘There are countless tasty combos, but a few of my faves are cucumber and mint, strawberry, basil & lemon, blackberry, orange and ginger, and pomegranate and mint.’
Herbal teas are also a great way to stay hydrated. Peppermint, green and even fruit teas can make the pact to drink more water, far more do-able. However, whilst strong coffee isn’t the best hydrator thanks to its diuretic effect, Dr Brewer adds that breakfast tea can be good for hydration.
‘Although tea contains caffeine, which is a mild diuretic, this does not appear to affect the hydration potential of drinking tea as it provides more fluid per mug/cup than is lost due to the caffeine.’
2. Invest in a reusable water bottle
‘Not only is this good for the environment, it will also make you more likely to keep it with you and consequently keep you sipping all day,’ explains Georgia.
‘There are so many to choose from nowadays but ensure it is BPA free, easy to clean, made from a durable material, insulated (to keep your water chilled) and stylish of course!’
It’s also a good idea to give your bottle a leak-test before throwing it in your handbag or gym bag. Fill it up, and hold it upside down. No leak? You’re good to go!
Dr Brewer adds: ‘It’s best to drink fluids regularly throughout the day rather than just drinking when you feel thirsty, by which time you are already significantly dehydrated.’
3. Set reminders
When you’re busy, it can be hard to stay on top of your fluid intake, but a good way to drink more water is to set alarms on your phone. Try an hourly alert, which can pop up on your phone or laptop, to remind you to go and have a drink. The best fitness watches such as the Apple Watch Series 5 feature hourly stand reminders too.
You could also consider investing in dedicated tech to helping you drink more water, such as the Ulla Smart Hydration Reminder. This little device attaches to your water bottle and reminds you to take a sip every hour.
4. Download a hydration app
‘There are countless apps available to download all of which allow you to set a target, track your intake and type and review patterns over time,’ reveals Georgia.
‘You can obtain a large amount of useful information with tracking in this way but also, simply the act of having to log it and wanting to reach your target makes you more accountable.’
5. Eat your fluids
Drinking more water doesn’t have to be so literal. There are endless foods that also supply water. These include cucumber, courgette, tomatoes and celery, to name a few.
In fact, cucumbers are actually 95% water, plus contain other health benefits such as energy boosting B vitamins, immunity aiding vitamin C and a nice hit of antioxidants.
‘Choosing wisely when it comes to your meal prep can not only support your micronutrient intake, but also your efforts to increase your water intake,’ says Georgia.
If water doesn’t appeal, stocking up on these hydrating foods can be super beneficial. After all, as Dr Brewer explains, good hydration is important for healthy, glowing skin with good elasticity as well as reducing tiredness, boosting work efficiency and improving concentration.
6. Make alcohol more hydrating
Unfortunately, alcohol has a diuretic effect, which in turn makes us dehydrated.
To help counteract this, Dr Brewer recommends opting for longer drinks rather than short. ‘You could add mineral water to wine to make a more refreshing spritzer’, she explains. Alternatively, add a few cubes of ice to your wine to dilute it.
If you know you have a long day or night of drinking ahead, pace yourself; alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks (a glass of water is ideal) to make the next day - and your efforts to rehydrate - slightly more bearable.
Lucy is Health and Fitness Editor at various women's magazines, and also Editor of Woman&Home Feel Good You. She has previously written for titles including Now, Look and Cosmopolitan. She lives and breathes all things fitness; she works out every morning, and mixes it up with runs, weights, boxing and endless box jumps. She is also a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios, primarily Digme Fitness. Lucy is pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food, and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to the odd Negroni on the dance floor with her friends.
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