Joshua Anthony, Ph.D.
Everyone is looking for ways to be more effective in the workplace. If you Google “success at work” you will find more than 1.7 billion hits with a variety of individual strategies considering everything from time management, navigating office politics, facing difficult conversations and reading body language. Underpinning any of these approaches is the need to be at our best, and sometimes simple actions can have a big impact. One area worth considering is whether or not you getting enough fluids at work. Even small changes in hydration-like the type you might experience when you feel thirsty-can affect attention, concentration and memory1. Other studies suggest that dehydration may also directly affect work place productivity and could be associated with industrial accidents2. Therefore, getting enough fluids at work is definitely something to think (drink) about when trying to optimize workplace performance.
Getting Enough Fluids is a Smart Decision
Have you ever felt a little thirsty at work, but just keep pushing through to meet a deadline? Not pausing to get some fluids may be counterproductive. Thirst is an important physiological response to dehydration. If you are feeling thirsty you are probably mildly dehydrated. Thirst is typically a reliable indicator of 1-2% dehydration (measured by body weight change)3. This might seem inconsequential; however, studies are beginning to demonstrate that even small decreases in body water content can decrease mental performance. For example, some studies suggest that 1% dehydration reduces concentration, alertness, math skills and short term memory4,5. At about 2% dehydration, subjects are more tired and report more headaches5. In short, it’s tough to perform at your best without getting enough fluids.
A Toast to Productivity and Health
The negative effects of dehydration on individual performance can also affect workplace productivity and put workers at risk. Some studies suggest that reaction time increases incrementally with fluid losses. According to one study, reaction time was 23% slower at a 4% dehydration level4. Dehydration is also associated with greater incidence of fainting when moving from a seated to a standing position and this has been suggested to be a factor in job related accidents2. Such changes may also have a significant impact on productivity. For example, dehydration of approximately 1% reduces productivity in forest workers by 12%6.
Keeping Your Head above Water
There is no single level of fluid intake that assures adequate hydration for all people under all conditions. The Food and Nutrition Board has established an adequate intake (AI) level for total water intake of 3.7 liters/day for adult men and 2.7 liters/day for women7. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) recommend replacing fluids frequently when exposed to heat stress such as one cup of cool liquid every 20 minutes2. It’s also good to pay attention to signals that suggest inadequate hydration. For example, if your morning body weight is more than 1% less than the prior morning, if your urine is darker in color than usual or if you have persistent thirst, you probably need to be getting more fluids.
Drinking it In
It’s important to avoid excess calories when deciding how to hydrate effectively. Water should be an important part of anyone’s hydration strategy. I like to keep a bottle on hand to sip as I run from meeting to meeting. At the same time, variety can make hydration more enjoyable and increase fluid intake. Campbell offers a number of products that taste great and help manage calorie intake. Personally, I am a BIG fan of Diet V8 Splash® Tropical Blend Juice Drink with only 10 calories per serving. Vegetable juices like V8® 100% vegetable juices or Bolthouse Farms® carrot juice are good choices as they typically are lower in calories than many beverages and help you get the vegetables you need.
Food for Thought
Food also plays an important role in hydration. In fact, current recommendations assume approximately 80% of total water from beverages and the remaining 20% of water is assumed to come from food7. Fresh fruits and vegetables are great choices to help meet your fluid needs as they typically contain high water content and are low in calories. Melons, leafy greens, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, and celery are great choices. I like to munch on Bolthouse Farms® baby and premium carrots and baby carrot ShakeDowns®. Broth-based soups also provide fluid and electrolytes while helping to manage hunger8. In fact, Campbell’s® Chicken Noodle soup has been shown to support hydration before and following exercise9,10. While higher levels of sodium are needed to support intense exercise, its best to moderate sodium intake with normal activity, so I choose Campbell's® Healthy Request® soups – Italian- Style Wedding is my favorite.
Be sure to check out our brand sites to help find some great beverages and soups to stay hydrated.
Cheers to your success!
Joshua Anthony, Ph.D.
Josh is the Vice President of Global Nutrition at Campbell where he provides expert nutritional science leadership for the development of global health and wellness platforms, research programs, clinical trials, and science-based claims development. Josh has more than 20 years of experience in the areas of infant and child nutrition. He is a member of the American Society of Nutrition and the American Physiological Society, where he is the Chair of the Endocrinology and Metabolism Section. Josh earned his B.S degree in Biological Sciences from Carnegie Mellon University; his M.S. degree in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Illinois; his Ph.D. in Physiology from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and his M.B.A. degree from Vanderbilt University.
- Liebermann HR. Hydration and cognition: a critical review and recommendation for future research. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2007; 26(5): 555S-561S.
- Kenefick RW and Sawka MN. Hydration at the work site. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2007; 26(5): 597S-603S.
- Kolasa KM, Jackey CJ, and Grandjean AC. Hydration and health promotion. Nutr. Today. 2009; 44(5):190-201.
- Gopinathan PM, Pichan G, Sharma VM. Role of dehydration in heat stress induced variations in mental performance. Arch. Env. Health. 1988; 43: 15-17.
- Shirreffs SM, Merson SJ, Fraser SM, Archer DT. The effects of fluid restriction on hydration status and subjective feelings in man. Br. J. Nutr. 2004; 91: 951-958.
- Wasterlund DS, Chaseling J, Burstrom L. The effect of fluid consumption on forest workers performance strategy. Appl. Ergon. 2004; 35: 29-36.
- Institute of Medicine and Food Nutrition Board: “Dietary reference intakes for water, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate.” Washington, DC: National Academies Press 2004.
- Ray ML, Bryan MW, Ruden TM, Baier SM, Sharp RL, and King DS. Effect of sodium in a rehydration beverage when consumed as a fluid or meal. J. Appl. Physiol. 1998; 85(4):1329-1336.
- Johannsen NM, Lin E, King DS, Sharp RL. Effect of preexercise electrolyte ingestion on fluid balance in men and women. Med. Scie. Sports Exerc. 2009; 41(11): 2017-2012.
- Sharp RL. Role of whole foods in promoting hydration after exercise in humans. Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2007; 26(5): 592S-596S.