Water is essential to life. It is the only nutrient that we literally cannot live without for more than a few days.
Your body is made up of about 60% water. Check out all of these great things water does for your body…
Source: USGS Water Science School. http://water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html
Staying hydrated can help you feel great too! Some of the benefits of healthy hydration are: improved energy and physical performance, improved mood, reduced headaches and prevention of constipation. (1) Sounds good, right?
So, how much fluid do you need to hydrate? While needs vary from person to person (based on a myriad of factors, such as: your age, size, activity level and the climate you live in), 8 cups of fluids per day is a good general goal for most women. (1,2)
All right, let’s get to it and talk about some healthy ways to get those fluids in….
You had to know that one was coming! Water is one of the best things you can put into your body. In addition to all of the hydration benefits listed above, increasing your water intake may even help you lose weight.
A recent study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics:
found that the participants who drank the most plain water in their daily diet consumed fewer total calories, drank fewer sweetened beverages, and took in less total fat, saturated fat, sugar, salt, and cholesterol. In fact, they discovered that increasing plain water consumption by one to three cups a day could decrease calorie intake by 68 to 205 calories a day. That could add up to a lot fewer calories over time — and result in significant weight loss. These results support prior research on this topic, which has shown that drinking water before meals and that substituting water for sweetened beverages can cut down on calorie intake and improve weight control. That means people interested in losing weight and improving their overall health could benefit from incorporating more plain water into their daily diet. (4)
Sometimes we simply forget to drink our water. To prevent this from happening, try to keep a bottle of water with you at all times – at your desk, in your car or in your purse.
If you’re getting bored with plain water, it’s easy to jazz it up with some citrus slices, berries or pineapple. Make spa water with sliced cucumber and crushed mint. Bubbly water can break up the monotony too. Treat yourself to a mojito water – bubbly water with mint and lime.
Coffee and tea
Coffee is high in antioxidants which may reduce the risk of death from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, liver cancer and stroke. (5)
Tea also contains a variety of healthy antioxidants. Black and green teas have been studied the most, and have both been shown to have healthy heart benefits. (6,7)
The caveat here is to enjoy your coffee and tea without adding sugar! I like mine with almond or soy milk to naturally sweeten it and give me a shot of calcium. Often, the way you enjoy your cup of joe or tea is an acquired taste. If you are used to sweetening it, try gradually reducing your sugar (maybe cut it in half each week), until you adjust to the new, healthier version.
And don’t overdo your total caffeine intake. The general recommendation is to limit your total caffeine intake to 400 mg or less per day. (8) A cup of green or black tea has between 15-70 mg of caffeine and a cup of coffee has about 75-200 mg. (9) Too much caffeine can cause problems such as jitters/nervousness, insomnia and an upset stomach. (8)
Milk, yogurt and kefir
These are some of the best sources of calcium for you, and an excellent way to hydrate. Dairy or nondairy milk will work. And, yes, yogurt counts toward your fluids! Kefir is a cultured milk product that tastes a lot like yogurt and also has healthy probiotics. Just check the labels for added sugars, and watch the total calories.
You don’t even need to drink all of your fluids. You can eat some water to help you hydrate. Soups, yogurts and water-filled fruits and vegetables can all boost your fluid intake.
These are the drinks you want to limit or Avoid…
Drinks that are loaded with sugar! They contain a lot of calories, with little to no other nutrients. Consuming high-sugar drinks can lead to weight gain and increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and gout. (10) “Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of sugar in the American diet.” (11) Looking to lose weight? Look to your beverages … daily cutting just one (12 ounce) can of soda or Red Bull (150 calories) one bottle of beer, 6 oz wine, 10-12 ounces of lemonade or juice, will save you 54,750 calories per year. That’s the equivalent of 15 ½ pounds!
Soda, and high-sugar coffee and tea drinks
If you can’t live without them, then limit them to an occasional splurge.
Ounce for ounce, fruit juices can contain as much sugar as a soda! True, juices do have more nutritional value, but you would be much better off having a piece of fruit and a glass of water. Juice does not contain any of the fiber packaged in whole fruit – so you’ll get more of a blood sugar spike and less of the filling effect.
If you want a refreshing, fruity drink with more fiber and less calories, you can try this Fruit Cooler recipe.
These come in all shapes and sizes. A high vegetable, low sugar smoothie can be a great way to get your greens in – especially if you are throwing whole fruits and veggies in the blender, keeping the fiber. A healthy smoothie can also be a great snack or meal-on-the-go. Just stay away from the high-sugar varieties, and watch the calories.
These can come with lots of sugar, added colors and chemicals. They are designed to replenish carbohydrates, electrolytes, and fluid during high-intensity, long workouts. If you’re not doing an intense workout, they’re just another source of sugar and calories. If you are working out, water is enough to stay hydrated for most workouts. (12) For electrolyte replacement, coconut water is an excellent alternative to sports drinks – it is low in calories and naturally contains electrolytes. Or you can make your own healthier sports drink.(13)
These can also be loaded with sugar, caffeine and additives, and have unknown long-term health effects.
A glass of wine is fine, but you don’t get to count it as part of your fluid intake. Alcohol can actually be dehydrating, so have an extra glass of water with that wine. And you really need to watch out for extra calories if you are having cocktails. Mixers are usually loaded with sugar.
What you drink is as important as what you eat. So be sure to choose wisely!
- Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration and health. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(8):439-458.
- Daily Fluid Intake Recommendations. Water Quality & Health Council. Accessed Oct 22, 2016.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Water: How much should you drink every day? Mayo clinic: Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Accessed Oct 22, 2016.
- Marshall M. The Big Benefits of Plain Water. Harvard Health Blog. May 26, 2016.
- Appold K. The Perks of Drinking a Cup of Joe. Today’s Dietitian website. Accessed Oct. 22, 2016.
- Zanteson L. Tea’s Good for the Heart – Studies Show a Few Cups a Day Keep Heart Disease at Bay. Today’s Dietitian. 2013;15(3):18.
- Cochran N. The Health Benefits of Tea. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Published Jan 14, 2016.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Caffeine: How Much is Too Much? Mayo Clinic: Nutrition and healthy eating website. Accessed Oct 22, 2016.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Mayo Clinic website. Accessed Oct. 22, 2016.
- Soft Drinks and Disease. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health website. Accessed Oct 24, 2016.
- Teens Switch From Sugary Drinks With Peer Intervention. Today’s Dietitian website. Accessed Oct 24, 2016.
- Staying Hydrated – Staying Healthy. American Heart Association website. Accessed Oct. 22, 2016.
- Deardoff J. Sports Drinks: How to make your own. Chicago Tribune. Jul 21, 2011.