Our bodies are 60% water. Water builds cells. It transports nutrients and waste through our internal systems. It helps manage body temperature. How much water we should drink every day depends on a lot of factors: activity level, temperature, age and gender, whether we're trying to lose weight. We need water — and we often don't take in enough of it. Here are some things to know about how — and why — you can increase your intake of good ol' H20.
Hydrating can sharpen your mental focus
We all know that feeling, when it's tough to concentrate and our brains feel like they are in a fog — that's often a sign of dehydration. Drinking plenty of water all day powers your mind.
Ways to Make Water Taste Better
We often hear a rule of thumb that we need to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day (64 ounces total). A study by the National Academy of Sciences recommends that women consume about 90 ounces per day of water and men 125 ounces per day from all beverages and food — and it notes that about 20% of that intake typically comes from food. What do you do if you just don't like it? There are all kinds of things to try:
Fizzy water — naturally carbonated water gives a pleasant mouthfeel
Fizzy flavored waters — I'll admit it: I totally love LaCroix fruit-flavored water. It's my soda. It's sugar-free and naturally flavored. Target's Simply Balanced house brand flavored waters are also great. Find a brand you enjoy — just make sure it's free of sugar and sugar substitutes, and is naturally flavored. Reach for one of these instead of a can of diet soda.
Water "enhancers" — These come in liquid and powdered form, and often contain artificial sweeteners, flavors and preservatives. Be label-smart: Read the ingredients panel to understand what you're getting.
Water + juice — Adding a splash of orange juice to a full tumbler of water gives it just enough flavor to make it appealing. Just watch those calories!
DIY flavored waters — The easiest, cheapest, most natural way to flavor up your water is to add tasty things to a pitcher and keep it in the fridge. Look for a pitcher with an infuser — they're inexpensive, and you can fill the central perforated tube with sliced fruit and herbs to infuse into your water. Some great flavor combos:
Cucumber + mint
Lime + strawberry
Lemon + orange
Strawberry + basil
There are plenty of waters available on store shelves: bottled, canned, fizzy, still, flavored, plain, imported, spring-sourced, expensive, cheap. There are filter pitchers and bottles. There's tap water and a glass. Whatever you choose, make sure you're taking in enough H20. Your body needs it.
Dehydration often manifests as hunger
When your tummy growls, it may signal a lack of water rather than a lack of food. If you feel that mid-morning or -afternoon grumble, reach for a bottle of water first.
Water can get your body off to a good start. A USA Today story that caught my eye a few years ago:: Why You Should Drink Water First Thing Every Day. While the science is inconclusive, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that biologically it does make sense to drink two glasses of water in the morning on an empty stomach. If nothing else, it rehydrates the body after a night of sleep.
It's especially important to stay hydrated when being active when it's hot out. We have some tips to help this summer!