Our bodies are over 50% water, so it’s hardly a surprise that keeping hydrated is so important. Registered Nutritionist, Kathryn Styles, shares thoughts on fluid intake ahead of Hydration Week 2024.

 

Water from our foods and drinks help us maintain normal bodily and cognitive functions, by carrying nutrients, helping kidneys remove waste, regulating body temperature, lubricating joints and eyes, and helping digest food. Drinking less than we need can upset the balance of nutrients in our bodies and cause dehydration, which can lead to more serious health issues including urinary tract infections and kidney stones.  Keeping hydrated is really important, but how much fluid do we need each day?

HOW MUCH FLUID DO WE NEED?

On average, adults should aim to consume around 6-8 cups or glasses of fluid a daychildren need slightly less and men need more. Food can also provide valuable fluids. Of course, dietary, environmental, health and lifestyle factors play their part and more may be needed with high fibre or protein diets, in warmer temperatures, or when we are unwell or exercising.

How do you know that you’re hydrated?  

Putting it simply, checking your urine is a great indicator of whether you’re hydrated enough. Your kidneys will modify your urine concentration to preserve water in our bodies so if your urine is pale, straw colour and odourless then you are likely to be hydrated. If it is dark and smelly, you are most likely dehydrated. Thirst, dry mouth and headaches are often indicators that you are already slightly dehydrated.

Simple ways to increase your fluid intake

Drinking more water, milk, and sugar free drinks including tea, coffee and squash, juices and smoothies are obvious ways to increase your fluid intake. 

Other ways to take on board more liquid may not be as obvious. Jelly, ice cream, custard, and yoghurt can be enjoyed at any age, and a comforting stew or soup will help top up our fluids too. Many fruits and vegetables have a high water content so consider eating more melons, oranges, tomatoes, courgettes, and cucumbers, to name just a few. 

Hydration in older people

We can become more susceptible to dehydration as we age through decreased sensations of thirst, health problems such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, medications, or simply be concerned about relying on others to care for us and to prepare our food and drinks.  

For example, some people are concerned about incontinence and needing to get up in the night or disturb others to take them to the toilet. These people may not drink enough fluid to avoid such a situation, and not drinking can have a knock on effect on their health.

Identifying and resolving reasons for low fluid intake can help minimise confusion and common health issues such as constipation. A great way to encourage regular drinking is to offer many social gatherings such as coffee mornings or afternoon tea parties. 

Our Top Tips to staying hydrated

  • Find your liquid in a variety of sources including from food
  • Drink regularly throughout the day!
  • Have appealing options easily accessible – try chilled water flavoured with fruits and mint 
  • Offer ‘wet’ foods such as soups, ice creams, jellies, smoothies, and fruit milkshakes.
  • Give support when needed eg special cups 

For help and support with hydration or any aspect of food or menu planning, contact My Purchasing Partner – independent purchasing and procurement specialists.