Sometimes I stare at a glass of water with about as much enthusiasm as I feel when I need to do laundry. I know I need to drink the water, but it’s just not that exciting!
We all know it’s important to drink enough water, but why exactly is it important, how much is enough, and what are some strategies to make sure we consume as much as we should?
Why drink water
It’s hard to exaggerate the health benefits of water because it is essential to life and it preforms many functions in the body:
- Regulates body temperature
- Reduces excess calorie intake
- Maintains fluid balance
- Reduces fatigue
- Lubricates and cushions the joints
- Keeps the skin looking healthy
- Protects the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
- Clears wastes from the body through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements
How much water is enough?
Experts have long said that we need to consume 8 glasses of water each day. This isn’t bad advice, but it’s also not great advice. Due to recent research findings, the Institute of Medicine recommends that men consume at least thirteen 8-ounce cups of fluid (3 liters) each day and that women consume at least nine 8-ounce cups of fluid (2.2 liters) each day (source). Certain conditions (e.g., illness, hot weather, intense exercise, pregnancy) increase these needs.
You’ll notice that these recommendations are for fluid intake, not water intake. That’s because all fluids count towards the total (even caffeinated ones). However, water is free of calories and doesn’t carry the side effects of caffeine, making it the best option for staying hydrated.
Tips for drinking sufficient water
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Before allowing yourself a cup of coffee (or whatever you drink in the morning), moisten your mouth and help yourself become alert with a cold glass of water.
- Carry a water bottle with you everywhere you go. Choose a safe, reusable bottle (so you’re not constantly tossing out disposable ones) and carry water with you in the car, to the store, to work, etc.
- Have a beverage with every snack and meal. Water is the optimal drink, but beverages like milk, herbal teas, and juices are also good options.
- Choose water when eating out. Drinking water instead of soda or similar beverages saves money and reduces how many calories you consume!
- Add a wedge of lemon to your water or infuse it with other fruits and veggies. Infusing water gives it a nice flavor so you’ll be inclined to drink more. You can even purchase special infuser water bottles.
- Use an app to track your consumption. There are several smartphone apps (Daily Water, Waterlogged, etc.) available that help you track your water consumption (many of these are free). I’ve not used any of these personally, so I can’t vouch for them, but you can read their reviews and see if any might be helpful to you.
- Eat foods with high water content. Foods like watermelon, oranges, and cucumbers contain a lot of water so they will help hydrate your body.
I’ve heard people express concern about drinking too much water. This is possible to do, but it rarely happens in healthy people. For additional information on drinking enough water, visit the CDC and Mayo Clinic.
How do you make sure you consume enough water?