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Staying Hydrated? Warning Signs you can't ignore this Summer

Staying Hydrated? Warning Signs you can't ignore this Summer

Basics of Hydration

Water and hydration go hand in hand, as the human body is made up of such a large percentage of water. Hydration refers to the balance of water in a person’s system, in relation to the input and output of water fluids from the body. Ideally, a hydrated person would have a perfect balance of water and other hydrating fluid intakes in ratio to natural outputs through sweat, breath, excretion and other functions.  

 

It is important to understand that hydration varies in relation to certain individual factors: Activity level, sweat loss, diet, age, weight, fitness level and environmental factors such as climate and weather. These are among the many factors that play a part in determining an individual’s peak hydration.

 

Did you know that both the brain and heart are composed of 75% water? These areas of the body are vital to performance and functionality in every person. Fluid levels and continuous fluid intake are so important that even the slightest decrease of 1% body water content can noticeably reduce a person’s cognitive ability and overall performance (1).

Understanding Dehydration

This 1% decrease in overall body water content is also known as dehydration and it can have many adverse and unwanted effects. Dehydration can occur for multiple reasons, including inadequate fluid consumption, the consumption of fluids that are inappropriate (such as sugary sodas, alcohol or caffeine), or from excessive fluid loss without adequate replacement of water and electrolytes.

 

The following list indicates the effects of mild dehydration that would likely occur from a reduction of as little as 1 to 2% body water content.

 

A Few Signs of Mild-Moderate Dehydration:

 

  • Thirst
  • Decreased mental performance
  • Reduced attentiveness and critical thinking
  • Dry or sticky mouth
  • Dark urine or none at all
  • Headache
  • Cramps
  • Lack of energy
  • Cool, dry skin

Hydration in the Workplace

In a workplace setting, these effects of dehydration can greatly impact a company’s overall performance. The employees in any company make up the building blocks, or cogs in the greater machine, as the analogy goes. Dehydration can lead to tired, under-performing staff who ultimately are likely to make an increased rate of mistakes and show signs of lower overall morale (1, 2).

 

While hydration is important year-round, it is essential to understand the role that a warm, muggy under-ventilated workplace will play on staff hydration and subsequent performance. When the body's temperature rises due to external factors, it tries to cool itself by sweating. However, due to this the body also looses an increased amount of body water content, natural salts and electrolytes that are imperative to body functionality. 

 

For this reason, it is important that in a warm workplace – due to any number of factors from weather to humidity and so on – or when performing active work, employees must be provided with ample fluids to match what is being naturally lost. These can include water, electrolyte-replenishing beverages like Sqwincher, or even foods that are high in water %. Keeping a steady mix of these three options helps to improve the likelihood that staff will consume the correct foods to stay hydrated and healthy. 

 

Did you Know: Certain foods contain up to 99% water, making them a healthy alternative to water when it is not ideal. These can include; strawberries, watermelon, tomatoes, lettuce, celery and spinach all offer a high percentage of water content.

Our Top Tip for Workplace Hydration

Over the past year at Bronson Safety, our team have used the above information and developed a fortnightly morning tea in which our Office, Management and Warehouse staff bring in fruit and other natural snacks and beverages to share with each other.

 

The noticeable effects of this were as follows:

 

  • It has generally promoted better health and overall hydration across the company.
  • We've noticed an improved understanding around hydration its importance on an individual and company level.
  • This has also been a fantastic incentive for the team to mingle during an otherwise busy workday.

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