Behavior change is difficult even when it comes to increasing hydration. Many of us have difficulty consuming enough liquids, especially during the cooler months ,and staying hydrated during the warmer months is extremely important.
Water makes up 50-70 percent of our body weight. Keeping hydrated is essential for our bodies to run properly. All the organs in our body need water, which helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to our cells. Water also aids with digestion, lubricates and cushions our joints, maintains healthy skin, and regulates our body temperature. Consuming water also helps replenish liquids lost through metabolism, removal of waste products, breathing and sweating. Drinking adequate fluids also helps with satiety and prevents dehydration which can lead to lack of energy, decrease alertness, confusion, and headaches (1,2,3).
All beverages and many foods provide our bodies with fluid; however, many experts believe that water is the best beverage to keep us hydrated. The goal for fluid intake varies based on multiple factors such as age, activity, pregnancy and breast feeding, illness, medical history, inside and outside temperatures, as well as the types of foods we consume. Older adults’ sense of thirst diminishes, which places them at greater risk of becoming dehydrated if they only respond to thirst. They need to be very conscious of drinking throughout the day even if they don’t feel thirsty. The general guideline for fluids is 8 cups of water a day. Although no definite scientific research is available, most would agree that this is a realistic goal (1,2,3).
How do I know if I’m consuming enough fluids?
Pay attention to your urine; dark urine indicates inadequate hydration versus clear or light yellow that indicates adequate hydration. Consider that certain foods, medication, and vitamin supplements can also change the color of urine (1,2,3).
What if I don’t like water?
Many beverages such as milk, juices, herbal tea, soda, coffee, energy, sports drinks are mostly water. Although they contribute to your fluid intake many have added sugars and provide empty calories. Be sure to read food labels to be aware of added sugar in your beverages. Naturally flavored water and seltzer are great options. Fruits and vegetables contribute to water intake. For example, watermelon and spinach are nearly 100% water by weight (1,2,3).
Tips for keeping drinking more water
- Start with a long-term goal of 8 cups of water per day. If this seems overwhelming start with an additional 8 ounces of water per week and build up to reach your goal.
- Try having 8 ounces of water when you first wake up.
- Try using sparkling water and add a splash of juice for flavor if needed.
- Purchase a water pitcher and start experimenting with adding different vegetables, herbs, and fruits to make water taste delicious. These combinations can be very thirst quenching!
- Drink water in a pretty glass to make it more inviting.
- Invest in an infuser water bottle or refillable water bottle.
- Keep your water bottle by your side at work, in the car and at home as a reminder to drink. Remember convenience in consumption.
- Time marking water bottles such as HydroMate can also be helpful to keep you on track with your water intake.
- Reminders on your phone can also signal you to start drinking.
- Try using a water app to track your intake such as: Daily Water Tracker Reminder, HydroCoach, WaterMinder, Aqualet to name a few.
- Increase fruits and vegetables that provide hydration in addition to all their other health benefits (1,2,3).
Remember that small changes become habits which become lifestyle changes that are important to overall health. So, let’s start increasing our hydration one sip at a time!
Daphne Baldwin Kornrich, MS, RDN, CSOWM, CDN has been a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for the past 30 years, working in a wide variety of clinical and outpatient settings. Daphne currently specializes in Bariatrics and Weight Management.