Drink More Water
Author: Living Well Eating Smart Registered Dietitian Team
One addition you can make to your life right now that will more than likely make you feel immediately better? Drink enough water. Changing your primary source of hydration to water over high-sugary coffee, tea, fruit drinks and soda is an incredibly simple and impactful way to make a change in the weeks ahead.
Why is water so important to drink?
If you have an issue, more times than not water will help your situation. Have a headache? You could be dehydrated, drink up. Irregular bowels? Drink up to keep business moving as usual. Dry, itchy and cracking skin and lips? Nourish from the inside out and drink up.
When it comes down to it, water is the most basic nutrient your body needs for survival. It helps maintain skin integrity so there is a barrier between you and the germs of the world. Water not only helps your body break down the foods you eat, it helps the nutrients in those foods travel around to cells in need of nourishment (a.k.a.: all of them!). Water not only helps to eliminate waste from your body through digestion, it helps to regulate body temperature through sweat.
Drink this much water.
Should you aim for 8 glasses or 10 glasses each day? The truth is: we all have differing needs. Your needs also change based on what is happening to and around you. Humid and hot weather will impact you as will being immersed in dry heat during the winter months. If you live at a higher elevation or you’re participating in physical activity, your needs will differ from when you’re living at a lower elevation or live an inactive lifestyle.
We can get very technical when calculating your hydration needs, as we discussed in our “Drink to Good Health” article, but in the end keep it simple: let thirst be your guide.
What to do if you forget to drink.
We’ve all been there. We slow down slightly from the work we’re doing and realize a) we haven’t taken a break for a while and b) we have a full mug sitting next to us untouched. The good news is that simple reminders like timers on your phone or notifications in a health app can give you nudges to reach for sips of water on a regular basis. Setting a timer on your computer or in your work space like on an oven or wrist watch can be tremendous help as well.
When it comes to hydration, it’s more than water.
If a barrier to you drinking enough water is because you prefer a beverage with flavor over plain water, you’re just fine. You can still meet your water needs without reaching for plain water. Don’t like flat water? Swap to sparkling. Need flavor? Add in slices of citrus fruit and/or herbs for taste without overpowering taste buds with a high intensity sweetener. Get inspired from our "Staying Hydrated One Tasty Combination at a Time" article.
Love tea and/or coffee? Great, both tend to be excellent modes of delivery for antioxidant-acting compounds like polyphenols. Just remember to be mindful of what you add to your tea and coffee. Sweetening with added sugars from table sugar, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, etc. can quickly add up to excess, unnecessary, nutrient-empty calories (check out our "Resolution 2023: Drink Less Sugar" article for tips on reducing the amount of added sugars you drink).
Great news! Foods you eat provide hydration too. From soups to sauces, milk in your cereal, fruit added to smoothies and vegetables in your salad, sources of water come in many forms.