There are a number of things essential to a healthy diet. Fruits, vegetables, protein, vitamins—it’s important to get all of them for a balanced diet. However, there’s one other thing that’s vital to any diet, and that’s water.
Water makes up approximately 60% of your body weight, and every organ, tissue, and cell needs it to function. Water helps your body flush out waste, regulates temperature, cushions joints, and protects tissues. Not drinking enough water can cause dehydration, which at its mildest, makes you feel tired and lethargic. At its worst, dehydration can lead to hospitalization.
Because you lose water through normal bodily functions like breathing and sweating, it’s important to replenish the water you lose throughout the day.
You may hear that it’s important to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. This is generally a good rule of thumb. Experts at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommend men consume about 15.5 cups of fluids. For women, they recommend 11.5 cups. However, 64 ounces is still a good goal, because you also get some water through other sources like food.
But what do you do if you just don’t like drinking water? Luckily, you don’t have to stick to plain old tap water for your hydration needs. Sparkling water is just as hydrating as still water. And some beverages are even more hydrating than water. This is because of what’s in them. For example, milk contains some sugar, protein, and fat, so it takes longer to digest than water. Your body reaps the benefits of hydration for a longer period of time.
This isn’t true of all beverages, though. Soda and juice aren’t as hydrating as water. Plus, they usually contain extra sugar and calories that over time can do more harm than good. If you enjoy regular coffee, though, you’re in luck. Regular coffee provides about the same hydration as water. Just drink in moderation—too much caffeine can cause a diuretic effect. Interestingly, adding just a little milk can offset the diuretic effect of coffee.
The most important thing is to pay attention to what your body is telling you. Though 64 ounces is a good rule of thumb, how much water you need depends on factors like activity level and overall health. If you feel thirsty, drink water!
Do you drink enough water? What’s your favorite way to stay hydrated? Let us know in the comments!