Hydration 101

First published 28th Oct, 2022

Hydration isn’t only a subject for athletes.  Learn why we all need to pay attention to the amount we drink, the things we drink and the type of foods we eat to give the body enough water to maintain good health. Every single cell, tissue and organ in the body needs water. Among other things it is essential for maintaining body temperature, removing waste and lubricating joints.

Theoretically if we were to drink water to thirst every day, we should be fine. But as we age our sense of thirst becomes less strong and we need to monitor ourselves.

So what can we do?


A women should be taking in 2 to 2,7 litres a day, depending on weight and activity levels and a man should be drinking 2,5 to 3,7 litres, depending on the same factors. If you like using calculations and formulas then check this out.

This is the amount of fluid we need excluding the water we get from foods. We typically drink 80 percent of our water and find the other 20 percent in foods. See below to find out which are the best hydrating foods.


Fruit and non-starchy veg is best with plain yoghurt and cottage cheese coming in with a good score so make sure you add these whenever you can. For example, when you need a snack, cut the cookies, cakes or crisps and have a piece of fruit instead, or a little yoghurt with added berries. Add a side salad using tomato and leafy greens to your meals whenever you can. Here is a good reference for the water content of various foods.


When we are totting up how much fluid we have taken in, tea and coffee counts. Good news for those that dislike plain water! But once our caffeine intake reaches 500 mg per day drinking more coffee will have a dehydrating effect. A cup of brewed coffee typically has 100 mg and a cup of tea around 50 mg. We would recommend that after 4 cups of coffee you switch to decaf or herbal teas. Also we recommend drinking a glass of water between each hot beverage.


Many of us enjoy a tipple or two in the evening or on special occasions, but alcohol is extremely dehydrating. Combat its effect by drinking a glass of water on going to bed and again on getting up in the morning. Try to limit your alcohol intake to 1 drink a day for women and 2 for men.


While fruit juice and sodas do contain water and can hydrate you, the amount of sugar they contain makes them a very bad choice.  Too much sugar leads to insulin resistance which in turn leads to increased body fat around the waist, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and abnormal triglyceride levels. This in turn increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

So there we have it  - Hydration 101 for non-athletes. Of course if you do work out for more than an hour each day, you will need extra water and perhaps electrolytes. Sports nutrition and hydration is a specialised subject so please consult a dietician if you need advice.


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