Water is necessary for survival: it hydrates, sustains, and cleanses us. It’s responsible for nutrient transport, absorption, digestion, and excretion. Water regulates the body’s temperature and supports all the main systems of the body, and having enough of it each day should be an easy way to ensure its homeostatic efficiency. However, the means of how we consume water has been exaggerated by media, and the ways to stay hydrated are actually much simpler, convenient, and rather contingent on the basis of mere common sense. You, as HR, can debunk the misconceptions of drinking water and keep employees afloat of all the benefits of healthy hydration.
Here-in lies six suggestions that will challenge the way you think about water, and why it should be the water-cooler topic for the employees in your office.
1. Drink 8 Cups of Water Per Day Myth–We Actually Need More!
According to a nutrition study, “not only is there no scientific evidence that we need to drink [8 glasses a water per day], but the recommendation could be harmful, both in precipitating potentially dangerous hyponatremia and exposure to pollutants and also in making many people feel guilty for not drinking enough.” To make sure that our body stays well hydrated and osmotically balanced, health experts have routinely recommended for the average person to drink eight cups of plain water per day. However, this well-meaning advice is sorely inaccurate, as it does not take into account the varied factors of climate, genetics, and fitness level. Interestingly, the actual recommendation for the average man and women is as follows: “104 oz. for men, 72 oz. for women, 80 oz. for pregnant women.” Since eight glasses is equivalent to 64 ounces, the average is way more than what we’ve been informed. Thus, we should be aware that meeting this requirement can be met by knowing that water comes in many forms, and that we may be reaching that hydration goal through those means anyhow: foods, beverages, and coffee.
The best way to ensure employees are drinking more than 8 cups of water is to install water coolers at the most accessible and convenient locations in your office. HR can write hydration reminders on bulletin boards and post-it notes on employee laptops, and even designate as a fitness tracker to implement as a wellness program challenge—as long as employees don’t over hydrate.
2. The Coffee is Dehydrating Myth
Mornings at the office can be a drag; we often find ourselves venturing to the coffee machine out of second nature to perk ourselves up. A common belief of drinking coffee is that it will dehydrate you—coffee is notoriously perceived as a non-water drink due to its diuretic property—but studies have shown that drinking coffee can actually count towards your daily water intake. For instance, “A recent UK study of regular male coffee drinkers found no difference in hydration levels between those who drank four 200ml cups of coffee a day and those who drank the same amount of water. Researchers measured the men's urine output over a 24-hour period and other hydration markers in their blood, and concluded moderate coffee intake provides similar hydrating qualities to water.”
Coffee is the ultimate go-to morning beverage at the home, and especially at the office. We know caffeine wakes us and stabilizes us, and that too much can make us feel jittery and anxious. In addition, we now know that drinking coffee can ward off heart disease and mental deterioration, but do employees know that drinking coffee can still be hydrating? Employees can maximize on their caffeine benefits by calculating their caffeine tolerance and staying below the average 4 cups of coffee per day. With moderation, their body stays in healthy homeostasis and the diuretic effect will cease to dehydrate them.
3. Hydration in the Form of Food
Water-dense foods, such as vegetables and fruits, and even yogurt, will help employees reach an optimal hydration goal. Employees can successfully dove-tail their nutritional intake from food with the hydration intake of its water. “Staying hydrated goes beyond just the water you drink. Foods make up around 20 percent of your total fluid requirements each day. Along with drinking your 9 to 13 daily cups of water, try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables.”
With prime sources of watery veggies and fruits in celery, watermelon, spinach, and green peppers, employees can be more aware of the water sources they consume, and see if it matches the above recommended water intake. Moreover, instead of solely binging on water after water for proper hydration—and having to face the inevitable bathroom breaks at ten-minute intervals—you can feel hydrated without the heavy bladder. This should be incentive enough to choose fresh and watery fruit as a hydrating lunch snack.
4. Mindful Drinking: Pleasure Versus Thirst
We drink to live and live to drink. Choosing colorful beverages over plain water is usually a more palatable approach to staying hydrated. To many, adding flavor brings more enjoyment from its improved taste. “We generally consume fluids not to quench our thirst, but as components of