By Olivia Weinert, Student of the Community Nutrition Class taught by Dr. Jinan Banna, University of Hawaii Manoa.

Wetting your whistle while at work will keep your brain in working condition throughout the day. Working in both an air-conditioned office or in the hot humid Hawaii outdoors can lead to dehydration. Keeping hydrated will help prevent a decrease in brain function and maintain peak work performance throughout the day. Refillable water bottles and water-filled foods are a few ways to make getting more water easy.

More than half of the body contains water, which is why it’s important to drink enough to stay hydrated. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than it is getting. Having a headache, feeling lightheaded or nausea are a few signs your body might be in need of water. A key method to check hydration, is the color of urine. If your urine is dark in color, this is a sign to drink water.

Working in the sun results in greater water losses due to higher levels of sweating. This increases the need for beverages containing electrolytes such as sodium, chloride and potassium. These electrolytes help the heart and muscles to function. Working long hours in the sun while being inadequately hydrated can result in an imbalance of these electrolytes. If you have steady sweating throughout your work day, drinking beverages with electrolytes is important to maintain a balance in your body.

Put more fruits and vegetables in your diet to boost hydration. Up to 90% of a strawberry and watermelon is filled with water. Carrots, pears and oranges hold up to 80% water. Eat more of these foods as a snack during work. This will help keep your body hydrated without having to drink 100% water.

For employers, improving hydration in the workplace requires the creation of a “hydration culture”. This includes promoting the use of water bottles. Making updates to the water fountains will encourage the use of refillable containers. Supplying fruit and vegetable snacks in the break room is a great way to promote hydration and health in the office.

References

Hydration, Hydration, Hydration. The Annals of Occupational Hygiene. December 2009.

Kenefick RW, Sawka MN. Hydration at the Work Site. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2007;26(sup5):597S-603S.

Masento NA, Golightly M, Field DT, Butler LT, van Reekum CM. Effects of hydration status on cognitive performance and mood. British Journal of Nutrition. 2014;111(10):1841-1852.

Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health: Nutrition Reviews©, Vol. 68, No. 8. Nutrition Reviews. 2010;68(8):439-458.

Riebl SK, Davy BM. The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance. ACSMs Health Fit J. 2013;17(6):21-28.

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