Most of us know we should drink plenty of water each day to keep our body running in high gear. Water regulates our body’s thermostat, cushions our joints, shuttles oxygen and nutrients to cells, flushes toxins from organs and hydrates our skin.
Drinking more water might also improve your mood, sharpen your metal focus and help you lose weight.
The most recent guidelines, published in 2004, advise healthy adults living in temperate climates consume 12 to 13 cups (men) and 9 cups (women) of water each day. Pregnant women need 10 cups of water each day and women who breastfeed should drink 13 cups.
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If you exercise or engage in any activity that makes you sweat, you need to drink extra water to replace what you’ve lost. Hot, humid weather also drives up the body’s need for water.
All beverages – excluding alcoholic drinks, which cause your body to lose water – count towards your daily water requirement. That means milk, plant-based beverages, fruit juice, even coffee and tea hydrate you.
If you struggle to drink enough fluid, use the following tips to amp up your hydration.
Sip on a berry smoothie. It’s not just the cow’s milk or almond milk that adds water to smoothies (milk is 91 percent water). Berries also contain large amounts of water in proportion to their weight, with strawberries leading the pack (92 percent water) followed by raspberries (87 percent), blueberries (85 percent) and cherries (81 percent).
Start with a “water appetizer.” Make a habit of drinking 16 ounces of water before each meal. Doing so will put a large dent in your daily water requirement and can help you feel full and, as a result, help prevent you from overeating.
Eat your water. Roughly 20 percent of our daily water comes from food. Hydrate with water-packed seasonal summer fruit such as watermelon (92 percent water), cantaloupe (90 percent), peaches (88 percent) and plums (85 percent).
Snack on crudité consisting of sliced cucumber (96 percent), celery (95 percent), zucchini strips (95 percent), radish (95 percent) and cherry tomatoes (94 percent). (All in season now.)
Take an iced coffee break. Cool off and hydrate with an unsweetened iced coffee with a splash of milk. While older studies suggested that caffeine had a weak diuretic effect, more recent studies do not. If you regularly consume moderate amounts of caffeine, it doesn’t cause your body to lose more water than you ingest.
Flavour it. If you find plain water boring, flavour it with lime and basil leaves, raspberries and fresh mint, mango and pineapple chunks, or honeydew and cucumber slices. To infuse more flavour, allow the water to chill for a few hours in the fridge.
Make it convenient. Out of sight, out of mind. Keep a bottle or glass of water on your desk at work and on your kitchen counter at home. Take a water bottle with you to the gym and carry one when exercising outdoors.
Use an App. If you need accountability—and a constant reminder of your daily goal—keep track of your water intake using an app on your smart phone such as Daily Water, Waterlogged and Water Alert.