In a world where anything that we would like to consume is seemingly “on tap,” it’s surprising to learn that as human beings, some of us are failing bigtime as relates to staying hydrated. Fortunately, a new scientific white paper and pilot study from Lucozade Sport, conducted by Oxford Professor; Charles Spence, has found a way to boost our regular liquid intake by as much as 80%. So, M&F clinked glasses with the professor in order to learn more about our need to drink it in.

It stands to reason that a beverage company such as Lucozade Sport would seek to understand what drives our desire to take a drink, but in a society where overconsumption is the norm, it seems that when it comes to properly hydrating ourselves, we have much to learn. Charles Spence, an experimental psychologist at Oxford University was tasked with conducting some research ahead of the launch of “Lucozade Sport Zero Sugar.” He found that a bottle designed to make the product feel more grabbable was a great way to encourage more drinking. As he continued his work, visual cues seemed to the real-deal for upping out intake, but why do we need to be encouraged to drink in the first place?

Why don’t many of us drink enough?

“Well, there is a stark contrast between water, which would presumably have been the main route to hydration, and the energy-dense foods that we feed ourselves with (these days),” says Spence. “Water doesn’t really have a smell or much of a taste, hence the lack of sensory cues associated with water might be part of the reason for the problem of getting adequate hydration. By contrast, our brain does a great job of drawing our attention to the smell of energy-dense foods. The evidence suggests that while we may overconsume food if left to our own devices, we do the opposite when it comes to hydration – systematically underhydrating.”

Ok, so many of us aren’t drinking enough, but so what? Well, despite the obvious cognitive and performance issues that you’ll face by failing to properly lubricate your system, dehydration is a common cause of hospital admission and is also a common risk factor for kidney stones. In fact, 20 – 30% of American older adults are thought to be dehydrated as you read this. For athletes, the requirement for proper hydration is even greater, since we lose so much through sweat. If you are thirsty, the chances are that you are already dehydrated, or well on the way.

Sensory cues may be the answer for encouraging us to drink more

In addition to grabbable bottles, Spence also found that other sensory cues appear to get us chugging more. During the research, two sets of yoga classes were observed. One class was primed with ‘visual thirst’ prompts and the other was not. The prompts included textual messages, warm colors, and thirst-inducing images such as pouring water, or a shot of the desert. When tallied up, those that were exposed to the sensory cues drank 80% more liquid on average. Considering that some studies have suggested that a third of athletes are dehydrated before even working out these findings could be a game changer as gyms will likely take note and update their decor. And, if you are struggling to drink enough, you could even place your own thirst inducing images of freshly sliced fruit or arid deserts around the house.

“There is plenty of evidence that food smells can nudge us towards ordering or eating related foods,” says Spence. “Given the lack of aroma naturally associated with many drinks or waters, then visual cues, and/or the sounds of water are likely the way to go. One of the suggestions that emerges from the literature is that the visual appeal of glossy surfaces might be linked to an evolutionary attraction to sources of water or hydration glistening in the sunlight. From all the evidence that I have seen, it is typically the external cues; the smell, sight, and/or sound of food and drink that prompt us or remind us to eat or hydrate. We know how important staying hydrated is for both physical and cognitive function. “Lucozade Sport Zero Sugar” is packed with Vitamin B3 to help reduce tiredness and electrolytes to help keep active people hydrated and performing well. The drink is a perfect partner for those taking part in exercise classes or just going about their day – since we all need to keep hydrated, and the low calories in each bottle make it a good choice for people following any diet.”