Keeping hydrated whilst studying and working at home can be tough. It’s easy to forget and before you know it, you’re feeling dehydrated. Water is essential for all the processes in our body – it helps our cognition, our energy production, has a role in digestion and absorption of nutrients, and aids in the elimination of wastes from the body. It’s especially important for our brains. Drinking enough can have both short and long-term effects on how we function and study, including improve our focus, speed up our mental reactions, and elevate our mood.
What are the risks associated with dehydration?
Dehydrating can have detrimental effects on the body. Mild dehydration has a negative effect on our concentration, mental performance and can leave us feeling tired and unenergised. More severe dehydration can increase our risk of a range of conditions, including poor kidney function, heart conditions and oral health problems (as water helps us create saliva).1
What can you do to stay hydrated?
- Swap coffee for water.2 It’s no secret students and academics love coffee! Now, with remote-learning increased, the lines between classes are blurred and more of us rely on caffeine as we study for long hours3. Coffee is a natural diuretic, along with black tea, alcohol and energy drinks. Diuretics promote the elimination of water by the body, essentially increasing our risk of dehydration if we do not replenish. To combat this, try swapping coffee for a glass of water, or for a tasty alternative, try herbal tea, chai or natural fruit juice.
- Don’t wait for thirst. By the time we start to feel thirsty, we may be already experiencing mild dehydration.4 Try drinking a glass of water every hour to ensure you’re drinking steadily throughout the day.
- Have a water bottle on hand. Often we forget to omit water as we forget or don’t want to get up and our a glass. Having a bottle readily available next to your study space makes staying hydrated convenient and effortless.
- Eat hydrating foods. Many foods are water-rich and can provide us with a portion of the water we need for the day.5 Opt for fresh fruit and veggies – try watermelon, strawberries and cucumber sticks as a snack, or include fresh green salads or nourishing soups for lunch and dinner.
2 Zhang, Y., Coca, A., Casa, D.J., Antonio, J., Green, J.M. & Bishop, P.A. (2020). Caffeine and diuresis during rest and exercise: A meta-analysis. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 18(5), 569 – 574. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2014.07.017
3 The Conversation. (2020). Thinking about working from home long-term? 3 ways it could be good or bad for your health. https://theconversation.com/thinking-about-working-from-home-long-term-3-ways-it-could-be-good-or-bad-for-your-health-141374
The University of Divinity has partnered with Nutrition Australia in 2020 to provide a series of dietitian-approved advice that promotes healthy eating habits to help our students and staff make the most of learning opportunities.
Nutrition Australia is the nation’s peak expert advisory group on public health nutrition, advising and educating on healthy food choices to help Australians achieve optimal health through good nutrition.