Staying hydrated is crucial to our health.
Water helps our body perform necessary functions like maintaining a healthy temperature, lubricating our joints, flushing waste from our body and, ultimately, keeping us from becoming dehydrated, which can cause muscle aches, headaches and lack of energy.
“Water is so essential [to] many bodily functions and makes up about 60% of our body’s composition,” said Ashleigh Stewart, a clinical nutritionist and owner of The Wellness Refinery in Philadelphia. “We lose our water content all day long through sweating, exercise and elimination, so replenishing water stores in our body is one of the kindest things we can do for our health.”
The importance of drinking enough water is well known, but many people do not drink enough each day. Cordialis Msora-Kasago, regional nutrition manager with Sodexo Healthcare and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said the recommendation for fluid intake is about 11.5 cups per day for women and 15.5 cups per day for men.
However, water-intake requirements do depend on the person. (Keep that in mind the next time you see the assertion that you should be drinking a gallon of water every single day for your health.)
“It is important to remember that fluid needs vary from person to person and are influenced not only by one’s gender and age but also factors such as geography, activity level and medical status,” she said, adding that people who work outdoors in hot weather may need to replenish lost water stores more than someone who works in an air-conditioned office.
She also noted that people with certain medical conditions, like congestive heart failure, sometimes need to limit the amount of fluid they consume in a day. To figure out how much water is right for you, ask your doctor, a nutritionist or a dietician.
No matter how much water is right for you, it’s important to drink the amount you need every day to keep yourself hydrated. Below, wellness experts from across the country shared their tips for drinking more water every day.
Refill your cup as soon as it’s empty.
“I have a 32-oz mason jar at my home and I also have one at work. I keep those by my side all the time,” Stewart said. “And as soon as I finish the last sip of my mason jar, I’ll fill it right back up.”
She added that seeing a full glass of water can serve as a reminder to drink throughout the day. Conversely, seeing an empty glass of water — or an empty Brita pitcher — can feel like a burden to refill and become a roadblock to reaching your hydration goals.
“I have a huge water filter system but even filling it is such a chore. If I see it’s not filled, I’m less likely to fill it in that moment,” Stewart said, adding that she may also ignore her thirst in that moment.
She stressed that keeping your water filter or water glass full can also keep you from grabbing something else to drink, like a soda.
Get a reusable water bottle.
When it comes to meeting water-drinking goals, convenience is important. And having water with you on errands, at work or during a workout is certainly convenient.
“A good strategy for adults and kids is to carry around a 32-ounce bottle of water and have it on you at all times,” said Jaimie Davis, an associate professor in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Texas at Austin.
Get a water bottle with marked time goals.
If you need more of a water-drinking reminder, purchase a water bottle marked with time goals. These map out how much water you should drink by a certain time.
Stewart said that for some, the time-marked water bottles can feel like an exciting challenge or self-competition. For example, you may push yourself to get to your 12 p.m. marked line just before noon.
“It’s like a game almost,” she said. “It’s a nice thing if you need that little extra push.”
Drink a glass when you first wake up.
You’re likely dehydrated when you get out of bed after a night of not consuming any water. Drinking a glass first thing in the morning can help replenish your fluids.
“You may not necessarily feel thirsty first thing in the morning, but drinking water can be a health habit that you prioritize to stay adequately hydrated throughout the day,” Vicki Shanta Retelny, a registered dietician nutritionist, previously told HuffPost.
Try fruit- or herb-infused water for some added flavor.
Davis noted that a lot of her work focuses on getting people to rely less on sugar-sweetened beverages like juice and soda, which are directly tied to health problems like obesity and type 2 diabetes.
“For people who are not water drinkers, it’s a really hard switch to make. If you’re used to drinking Coke and Dr. Pepper all day, it’s hard to say ‘OK, water,’” she said.
To make water more flavorful, Davis suggested infusing your water with fruit or herbs. She recommends pairings like strawberry and basil, cucumber and lemon, and mint and lime.
Infused waters are easy to make: simply put the ingredients in your glass of water and let the flavors meld for a few hours before drinking.
Make herbal tea to sip throughout the day.
Not only can herbal teas help add some calm to a busy day, but they are also a great source of hydration.
“In the winters I drink herbal tea all day long as an alternative to water,” Davis said, adding that it doesn’t matter whether you drink it hot or cold ― you’re still getting the same level of hydration.
Download an app that reminds you to drink water.
We’re on our phones a lot (probably even too much). So, it’s likely that any push notification that appears on your phone will be viewed almost instantly — making a ping on your phone a great reminder to sip some water.
There are dozens of water-intake tracking apps that let you record your daily consumption and then send you push notifications if you’re falling behind your goal. Try downloading apps like Water Reminder or Water Reminder – Daily Tracker if you need help remembering to sip some water throughout the day.
Eat water-rich foods.
While we most often reach for a glass of water when feeling parched, certain foods can help quench our thirst and add water to our body’s depleted water stores. So, by simply snacking you can help yourself reach your daily water goals.
Msora-Kasago said that fruits and vegetables like cucumber, watermelon and zucchini can hydrate the body while also adding healthy vitamins and minerals to your diet. Jjicama and celery are also water-rich foods that can help achieve water-drinking goals, Davis added.
Drink through a straw.
Finally, try slurping your H2O through a straw. Straws can help you drink more compared to just sipping from a glass (not to mention they can help you tolerate cooler water if you have sensitive teeth).