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How to stay properly hydrated

We know there are countless health benefits to staying adequately hydrated, but how much fluid is enough? And what counts towards our overall intake?

One small thing: If you prefer hot drinks, add fresh ginger and lemon slices to boiling water, and steep for a few minutes before drinking.

Staying properly hydrated when it's hot is definitely a must; however, hydration is important to your health all year round.

Make sure you’re getting enough fluids

Research shows that drinking less than eight glasses of water per day does not lead to negative health effects. How much water you need to drink depends on your age, gender and how physically active you are.

You can use this chart as a guide for how much fluid you should aim to drink every day:

Age group Daily fluid requirements
Young children (1-8 years) 3.5-5 cups
Older girls (9-18 years) 6-7 cups
Older boys (9-18 years) 7-10 cups
Women (19 years and older) 9 cups
Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers 9-12.5 cups
Men (19 years and older) 12 cups

Fortunately, fluid intake is not only about water – milk, coffee, tea and fruit juice count too – but make water your beverage of choice.

How do I know if I’m drinking enough fluids?

There are three simple ways to check whether you’re drinking enough fluids:

1. Are you thirsty?

Do you feel thirsty or have a dry mouth? If so, try to drink fluids more often throughout the day. Remember, when you feel thirsty, your body is already slightly dehydrated.

2. What colour is your urine?

Is your urine dark yellow in colour? Does it have a strong smell? That’s a good indication that you’re not getting in enough fluids. Ideally, your urine should be light yellow in colour or clear. Be aware that multivitamins, medications and certain foods, like beetroot, can change the colour of your urine. The amount of urine your body makes is also a good indication of hydration levels. The more you drink, the more frequently you’ll visit the bathroom. If your input isn’t matching your output, you’re not consuming enough fluids.

3. How do you feel?

Feeling lightheaded, tired, unable to concentrate or suffering from headaches? These are all signs that you are dehydrated.

How to meet your fluid needs
  • Avoid soft drinks – rather drink water when you’re thirsty.
  • Keep water close at hand when you’re at work, school or out and about.
  • Don’t forget that other fluids such as milk, plant-based milks, fruit juices and soups all count towards your daily fluid needs.
  • Although coffee and tea are not dehydrating as many people think, it’s still a good idea to limit caffeinated drinks to between three and four cups a day. Choose decaffeinated drinks instead.
  • Sip water while eating meals and snacks.
  • Remember, you’ll need to drink more fluids during hot weather and when you’re physically active.

If you have a question for our dietitians, click here, or to find a dietitian in your area, visit adsa.org.za. To get in touch with us, email healthhotline@pnp.co.za.

References:
https://www.nal.usda.gov/sites/default/files/fnic_uploads/water_full_report.pdf
http://www.adsa.org.za/Portals/14/Documents/FoodBasedDietaryGuidelinesforSouthAfrica.pdf
https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Water/Facts-on-Fluids-How-to-Stay-Hydrated.aspx