Unless you have been living under a rock in the middle of the desert, you have probably heard the recommendation: Drink eight, 8 ounce glasses of water a day for optimum health and wellness. That’s a lot of water, and the sheer volume of it makes many of us cringe. What are you supposed to do if you do not like drinking water? Relax. While staying hydrated is important– and your body does need water to survive– it is easy to stay hydrated without chug-a-lugging 64 ounces of the clear stuff each and every day. Here’s how.
You may not need a full 64 ounces of water daily to stay hydrated.
Unless you engage in heavy physical activity that makes you sweat a lot, you probably do not need the fabled 8 eight-ounce glasses of water per day. For one thing, the 64 ounces daily does not take into account the water contained naturally in non-water beverages and food, all of which counts toward your daily hydration requirements. And different people need different amounts of water, depending on size, age, metabolism, activities and other factors. Here’s how to know when you are getting enough water: your pee will be a pale, clear translucent yellow. Peek in the bowl before you flush. If your urine is a bright yellow or– Heaven forbid!– a dark yellow or yellowish brown, get some fluid into yourself immediately. Drink when you are thirsty and do not let yourself get dehydrated.
Stay hydrated by drinking other beverages.
It may seem like the medical establishment hates to admit it, but beverages other than water count toward your daily hydration requirements. Coffee, tea, juice and soda all count toward your daily water quota. Even beer and Red Bull count toward your daily hydration needs– but there’s a catch. Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, and diuretics make you dehydrated. Your morning cup of joe and your after work adult beverage both count toward your daily hydration needs; you just cannot substitute them for water one for one. Make sure to drink plenty of decaffeinated and non-alcoholic beverages, too.
Juice, milk products and non-caffeinated sodas pose a different problem. They will keep you hydrated all right, but at a price. Juice and sodas contain sugar and other nutrients that lead to weight gain, tooth decay and other health issues over time. If you refuse to drink water, try to stay hydrated with reduced sugar or sugar free versions of your favorite beverages at least some of the time.
Watch out for flavored drinks that claim to to be better for you than water. They may have added vitamins, herbs and other nutritional items, but many of them have added sugar and caffeine as well. And most “energy drinks” get their energy from copious amounts of sugar and caffeine, so try to limit them as an alternative source of hydration from water.
Stay hydrated by getting your water– and vitamins– from fruit and vegetables.
The water found naturally in fruits and vegetables counts toward your daily hydration needs, too. Grab an orange, bite into a juicy apple or munch on a cucumber to stay hydrated without drinking water. Noshing on melons and lettuce salads are also easy ways to fulfill your daily hydration needs. As an added bonus, you’ll score some healthy vitamins and fiber– something plain old water does not have.
Sip on soup for tasty alternative to boring old water.
The water found in soup– even hot soup– is a perfectly valid alternative to plain old drinking water. Soups made with a broth base are more hydrating (and generally less caloric) than creamy varieties, although a luscious lobster bisque or hearty gumbo is a perfectly valid source of hydration.
Make staying hydrated more fun by making drinking water less boring.
Do you avoid drinking water because it’s boring? It doesn’t have to be. Try adding a splash of juice, a few drops of flavor extract, a squeeze of citrus or a dash of Angostura bitters to plain iced water or sparkling mineral water. If you are a soda addict, try substituting a sparkling flavored water for your favorite regular or diet soda, at least some of the time, for a more effective source of hydration.
Make water taste better. Naturally.
I refuse to drink water that tastes funny, and I am not alone. Here in Texas, tap water tastes like chlorinated swamp. Do like I do, and filter it. I hate the taste of chlorine, but a simple water filter– I especially like the pitcher and filter made by Brita– makes nasty tastes disappear. Filtered or not, water tastes much better when it is cold, so keep a pitcher in the fridge to make staying hydrated as easy as possible. And if you still hate drinking water, that’s OK. You do not need to drink water to stay hydrated.
Institute of Medicine (IOM)
Personal knowlege and experience