Sourcing water and staying hydrated

Hydration, fluid intake recommendations and the signs of dehydration

Water is a good choice of drink because it hydrates the body without providing any energy (calories) or risking harm to teeth. You can also consume water through other liquids such as:

  • milk (low-fat milk provides a better source)
  • tea and coffee
  • soup
  • sugar-free juices
  • yoghurts

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Alcohol is not a good source of water as it is a diuretic – this means that it causes the body to release water.

Water can also be consumed from food sources, such as:

  • fruit – e.g., watermelon, strawberries
  • vegetables – e.g., cucumber, lettuce

Dehydration

Our bodies are losing water all the time. Water can be lost through breathing, from sweating and from going to the toilet. It is important to replace this lost fluid by drinking six to eight glasses of water per day in order to stay hydrated.

If we do not consume enough water to balance the fluid lost through the body we will become thirsty and this could lead to dehydration.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

Symptoms of dehydration
  • thirst
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • dark coloured or strong smelling urine
  • loss of concentration
  • constipation
  • dry mouth, lips or eyes

There are some considerations to make when planning your fluid consumption:

  • those who are physically active should drink enough fluid to replace the water lost through sweat
  • when the weather is hot, more fluids should be consumed due to losing more through sweat
  • children who are very active will need to ensure they get enough fluids as they do not always recognise the early stages of dehydration
  • older adults may have a weaker sense of thirst so should be encouraged to drink regularly