The most common response I get when I ask patients how much water they drink is “not enough.” Yet, when I get questions about how to improve something in the body, the answer almost always includes “drink more water.”
Lower blood pressure? Less joint pain? Fewer headaches? Better energy? Boosted metabolism? Glowing skin? Drink more water!
Did you know that the average American is only getting 4 cups, or 32 ounces, of water per day? This is half of what I will call the bare minimum of 64 ounces per day, but many of us need more than that.
To stay hydrated, the newest recommendation to determine your daily water need is to take your body weight and divide it in half; that’s how many ounces of water you should aim for daily (plus more with exercise or hot weather).
Drinks that count towards meeting this water goal include:
- plain water,
- flavored water,
- carbonated water,
- and coffee.
The caveat is that they should not contain sugar. This means we should avoid soda, sweet tea, lemonade, juice, and sports drinks because of their sugar content; sugar can make us need additional water because of how it causes water to be drawn out of our cells (it can also add A LOT of calories by the time we consume all the water we need!). We should avoid artificial sweeteners, too; check for sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium in the drink’s ingredient list.
Fruits and veggies contribute to our daily water intake, but how much can change significantly from day to day, so it’s hard to rely on this as a large contributor if you want to stay hydrated.
Tips to Increase Water Intake
Drink 8-16 oz. first thing in the morning.
We wake up dehydrated, so this is a crucial time to get some water into our system. It helps us wake up and promotes the good digestion of a balanced breakfast
Set a timer to remind you to drink water throughout the day.
Many of us don’t have a strong thirst signal, or we ignore it because we are focused on so many other things during the day. Setting a timer can help you spread your water intake throughout the day and help drinking water become a habit.
Get a reusable water bottle.
Know how many ounces it holds and how many you need in a day to meet your goal. It’s easier to keep track of 4-6 bottles than it is 12 cups that may vary in size. It’s also better for the environment.
Drink an additional glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume, and after caffeinated drinks.
Alcohol is very dehydrating, so no matter how many or how often we drink, we need additional water to re-hydrate. Caffeine is mildly dehydrating, especially after about 4 cups of coffee (or 400mg of caffeine). After that point, we should switch to water to balance out those effects.
We tend to drink more when there’s flavor involved. Fill a big pitcher with water, add some fruit for flavor, and keep it in the fridge so it’s ready when you need something different from plain water. This saves money from trying to buy drinks that are already flavored, keeps bad ingredients out, and allows for variety
Try out some new combinations:
- Orange + Rosemary
- Cucumber + Mint
- Strawberry + Basil
- Peach + Ginger
- Orange + Blueberry
- Watermelon + Honeydew
- Lime + Ginger + Basil
- Lemon + Raspberry + Rosemary
- Grapefruit + Lemon + Green tea bag
- Cucumber + Lime + Strawberry + Mint
Strive to pay attention to how you feel when drinking more water. When you start to notice the impact, it can be a great motivator to help you continue to aim for adequate hydration.
For more than 40 years, Raleigh Medical Group has served as the Triangle area’s premier internal medicine provider. Comprised of three distinct practices: Raleigh Medical Group, Cary Medical Group and Raleigh Adult Medicine, we tailor our treatments to provide the finest personalized health care available for each stage of your adult life. Contact us to schedule an appointment.