We hear it all the time: we should be drinking more water. For some of us, sipping on H2O comes naturally, but for others, it is a struggle. The truth of the matter is that we need water to function properly in every aspect of our lives. It is required for every cellular function in our bodies. Water helps us digest and break down food, absorb nutrients, and keep our cells in balance.
“When it comes to skin, water is one of the only nutrients that can show immediate effects,” says wellness expert and pharmacist, Mona Vand. Without the right water intake, our skin won’t glow, and it is visible in as little as a few days. “Go a day or two without drinking water and you will notice more visible fine lines and dull complexion,” she adds. The necessary water intake goes well beyond our skin, affecting our muscles, joints, mind and so much more. “Water is important for thinking critically and beating fatigue so if you hit an afternoon slump, you may really need water instead of caffeine,” says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with virtual counseling practice based in New York City. “Under-consuming water is also linked to lower motivation levels,” she added.
“Our muscles are about 75 percent water, and water is important as it carries nutrients to your muscles so that they can function correctly,” says Margie Clegg, a certified sports nutrition specialist and nutrition coach. “Water also lubricates your joints and acts as a shock absorber for both your eyes and spinal cord,” she explains. Staying hydrated can also help maintain a healthy weight, and helps rid of those midday hunger pangs. When you are dehydrated, your body also holds onto every bit of water possible, often causing you to bloat. “Though it may seem counterintuitive, water helps maintain your body weight by counteracting water retention,” she says.
If you hit an afternoon slump, you may really need water instead of caffeine.
We have all heard that the daily recommended amount is eight to 12 glasses of water a day here in the U.S., but the truth is that it varies from person to person depending on lifestyle, age, gender, and plenty of other factors. The general rule of thumb is that the average sedentary person needs eight glasses of water to stay properly hydrated throughout the day, but here is where that all changes. “Women who are pregnant should increase their daily water intake by at least two glasses per day as the growing baby is 75 percent water, and increase to an additional three glasses when breastfeeding,” says Clegg. She also explains that because of their muscular tendency, men should aim to drink anywhere from 10 to 12 glasses of water per day. If you are physically active and have an extensive fitness routine, your water intake should be a lot more than the average sedentary person. “In general, for a moderate activity you should drink one glass before and after each hour of activity, and for high-intensity workouts, you should drink two glasses before and after exercise,” said Clegg.
Age is also an important factor to consider when it comes to daily water intake. The older you get, the weaker your joints get, and those are affected by hydration as well. “Seniors should drink between eight to 10 glasses of water per day to help keep their joints lubricated,” explained Clegg. Medication is also a large contributing factor to dehydration for this age group so it is always important to keep water in mind.
However, it is not the same across the globe. In the UK, the standard is six to eight glasses of water per day. Across other parts of Europe, the standard is six glasses for women and eight for men. In Australia, it is recommended that women drink eight glasses per day and men drink up to 10.
Even mild dehydration is nothing to mess around with, so each and every one of these factors is important to keep in mind. One study showed that fluid loss after exercise impaired mood and concentration and increased the frequency of headaches in young women. We created a cheat sheet on how to keep drinking water, even if it is the last thing we want to do.
Start Your Day with a Glass of Water
This is probably the easiest thing you could do if you are trying to drink more water because you are literally starting off on the right foot. Not only are you getting your first glass of the day in, but this is also optimal for your digestion. Add a hint of lemon to coat your stomach lining before consuming any foods. You can also leave your glass of water on your nightstand so that it is visible to you as soon as you wake up in the morning.
If you are not the best at remembering how much water you drink throughout the day, then set some reminders. There is nothing wrong with keeping tabs on yourself and setting up a recurring alert on your phone or computer to ping you at the same time every day. You can also download an app such as Daily Water Tracker Reminder, WaterMinder, or Daily Water to ping you when it is time for another glass. This makes it easier to get up and grab a glass of water and track your progress.
Drink a Glass Before or During Each Meal
Swap your glass of OJ at breakfast for a glass of water, or your glass of wine at dinner for a glass of sparkling water or tap water. Make the extra effort to have some water before or during each of your meals to get those necessary glasses in. If you are really craving a lemonade with your lunch, have a glass of water beforehand. It plays an important role during the digestive process.
Nowadays you can add a variety of different flavors to your water in several different forms. “I like to add an organic flavored tea bag, hibiscus has a natural sweet/floral flavor, and you can literally pop it right into a cold water bottle, shake it up, and drink,” says Vand. Other options include Jasmine green tea or mint tea. “Experiment with flavored ice cubes by freezing your favorite 100 percent-juice in an ice cube tray and popping a couple of cubes into your water,” suggests Cassetty. She is also a fan of seltzer water as long as it doesn’t contain any artificial flavors or sweeteners. You can also always add fresh fruit. We recommend throwing in some lemon, lime, mashed berries or cucumber into a pitcher and storing it in the fridge overnight. The flavor sits and it is delicious by morning.
Buy a Reusable Water Bottle
Yes, this is great for environmental purposes and we should be riding this train anyway, but it is great for your water intake as well. Having a trusty water bottle on hand at all times just makes it easier to get up and refill it. It seems to be quite tempting for most people and a lot of us do drink more water as a result. It is all psychological, but it works! According to Zeahlot Lopez, M.S., LMFT LPCC, we have to remind ourselves that if we don’t have the right balance in our system, nothing else will work properly. “Water is what makes everything else run and it is important to our mood which impacts others,” she says. Lopez also explains that an aesthetically pleasing water bottle can also make you more excited to drink water. “It is all a mindset. Prioritize feeding your body what it needs,” she says.
Eat Water-Rich Foods
Still can’t drink more water? Try eating as much water content as possible then. Yes, that may sound a bit weird at first, but hear us out. There are plenty of water-rich foods out there that can help keep us hydrated and be very beneficial for those of us who aren’t the best water drinkers just yet. The USDA has listed some foods that have some high water content to keep you hydrated through your diet. For example, one cup of chopped celery contains about 96.4 grams of water, while one cup of spinach contains approximately 27.4 grams of water. On the other hand, one cup of pineapple chunks contains about 142 grams of water, while one of a cup of apples (with skin) contains about 107 grams of water. The USDA’s National Nutrient Database is filled with plenty of information if you’re looking to search for information on specific foods.
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