Should you drink water for optimal voice health?
Hydration for the body = hydration for the voice
Is our overall hydration level also important for our voice?
You will guess the answer: hydration is super important for our health in general, so yes, it is important for our voice as well.
One of the signs of dehydration is having a dry mouth. Our mouth is essential for good dictation (no surprises there), so it makes sense to take care of it. Our vocal cords vibrate very fast when we speak and moisture helps keep them lubricated and in prime condition.
Every second we're losing moisture by sweating and breathing. And then we obviously need to eliminate waste with our pee and poo several times a day. These fluids need to be replenished.
And while we can store extra 'food' in our fat cells, we do not have a similar storage system fluids. That means that it is wise to regularly drink throughout the day.
How much should you drink per day?
To answer this question, I did some
The Mayo clinic recommends a whopping 3.7 liters of fluid intake per day for women in a moderate climate. They suggest that 20% of this total intake would be covered by the food we eat, so we would still have to drink almost 3 liters per day. And more for men.
In contrast, the Dutch government recommends adults to drink about 1.5 to 2 liters per day. That would be on top of any fluids we ingest with our food. Quite a difference!
And then we also have to think about our circumstances: an athlete on a heavy training schedule would have to drink more to replenish their fluids than someone who spends their day in a cubicle in the office.
So, how much is enough? That depends on your circumstances and you can use your common sense to decide how much is enough for you. Personally, I'm fine with the Dutch guidelines and 1,5 to 2 liters a day is plenty for me when I am not particularly active. The thought of drinking 3 liters per day is pretty daunting to me.
Should we avoid coffee?
Nope. Actually it seems it's a myth that drinking caffeinated drinks causes dehydration!
Even though caffeine theoretically is a mild diuretic, it simply is not true that coffee or black tea make our hydration status worse. For someone who hardly ever drinks coffee and they would suddenly drink a few strong cups of coffee, yes, they may see a diuretic effect. However, if you are a regular coffee drinker this is a pretty negligible effect.
I personally drink black tea rather than coffee, but it is the same principle. So that is great news: we can count our cups of coffee and tea towards our total fluid intake.
Frequent sips are good for the vocal cords
Now after discussing general hydration levels and how important they are, I would like to turn the spotlight on lubricating our vocal cords and diluting any mucus in our mouth. No matter if our general hydration status is good, we can still have a dry mouth. Common causes for dry mouth are breathing through the mouth or taking medication. Quite a few medications cause dry mouth, so it is something to check.
One tip for keeping our mouth and vocal cords lubricated is this: whenever you bring a cup of coffee to your desk, also bring a glass of water. That means that even after you have emptied your hot cofee, you still have water to sip on frequently.
Want more voice tips?
I'm not a voice expert, but check out my earlier post with 9 Tips for a health voice when using dictation