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Thirsty Thursday


Thirsty Thursday

This Nutrition and Hydration Week, Dr Kristy Howells discusses how being hydrated can help healthy lifestyles, wellbeing, and mental health.

‘Thirsty Thursday’ is the Thursday focus of this year’s Nutrition and Hydration Week (11th – 15th March 2024). This is a week held annually since 2012, designed to highlight, educate, and promote how food and drink can help healthy lifestyles and wellbeing, ultimately supporting mental health.

We’re joining in Nutrition and Hydration Week to help educate and promote healthy lifestyles, especially on Thirsty Thursday, as fluid intake research has been our focus for several years within Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences. We currently have PhD Sport and Exercise Science students researching the development and the effectiveness of hydration packs for primary-aged children and teachers, to help cultivate Water Weeks within school. As well as medical students researching current knowledge and understanding of nutrition education within the medical community curriculum. It is often regarded as the role of the GP to promote a healthy diet, but in a recent study only 26% of doctors were found to be confidence in nutritional knowledge, highlighting a potential training need.

Why we are researching fluid intake, especially in young children and adolescents is because young people have underdeveloped thirst reflexes compared to adults, and they tend to have a 45-minute physiological delay before showing signs of needing a drink. Therefore, strategies and implementing policy into practice is needed to ensure every child remains at an optimum health level. Our research has been cited as one of the holistic approaches to child health within the Emerging Dietary Patterns: Impact on Child Health report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fit and Healthy Childhood.

There are multiple benefits to staying hydrated, sufficient hydration is essential for maintaining good health levels. Research has highlighted that higher levels of happiness occur when you have a greater access to water, and it is promoted to be accessed across the day. It has been reported that there is 10% improvement in cognition if we are able to maintain fluid intake, within visual attention tasks and spot the difference memory tasks. Some researchers have even found that drinking water throughout the day can help with sleep difficulties. Other benefits include improved concentration levels as well as a greater willingness to learn/work.

Fluid intake is often the forgotten part of food and diet when healthy lifestyles are promoted, you can tell this as there hasn’t been a campaign focusing on water since the ‘Water is Cool’ campaign in 2007. This means we have a potential generation of university-wide students (as well as the newly qualified teachers) who themselves have never had such an experience of understanding the importance of drinking water to stay hydrated. Therefore, we need to keep promoting what to drink, how much to drink, and when to drink. We need to drink 2.5 litres a day for males (10.5 glasses of water), and 2 litres a day for females (8 glasses of water). We need to drink throughout the day, but also more when it is hot temperature wise and also hot from undertaking exercise. Ideally, we need to drink water, rather than sugar-based drinks to avoid additional calories, to help support our healthy lifestyles. We also found that friends and family can be key in supporting you to remember to drink.

We have identified that it can be quite difficult to fully understand diet, or even to know the current nutrition guidelines and recommendations, yet nutrition can have a profound effect on your current and future health, which is why Nutrition and Hydration weeks are important to help educate and share knowledge. Therefore, we encourage you to start thinking about drinking and to challenge yourself to drink water more, to drink water more frequently and to encourage others to drink too, to support each other to help all our lives.

To support University Mental Health Day which coincides with Thirsty Thursday, think about your own fluid intake and how this could help your cognition, processing, happiness levels, and overall wellbeing. To help you, if you are on campus, drinking fountains have been installed in all our buildings here at CCCU, we just need to remember a water bottle to fill up, or if you’ve forgotten and you want to use the fountains in the food outlets, to ask for a cup to access the water fountains. Also to help support the healthy lifestyles of our students, our student union offers free breakfast club Mondays – Fridays 8.30 – 11am, where cereal, toast, spread and hot drinks are available to create your own breakfast, to help support students’ wellbeing.  

For more information on our fluid intake research, or if you’re interested in undertaking research in this area, do get in touch with Dr Kristy Howells via email –

Dr Kristy Howells is Reader in Reader Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy in the School of Psychology and Life Sciences.

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