Water: The Magic Elixir

Stacie Crozier

Discover how to increase water intake . . . and enjoy it

Two glasses of ice water with lemon, blood orange, and herbs are one example of how to increase water intake
Ice cold water with fresh fruit and herbs.

If there were a magic elixir that could help you feel more energetic, look more youthful and help your body function like a fine-tuned machine, would you drink it multiple times a day? You don’t need to scour Amazon or run to the pharmacy or health food store. You just need to walk into the kitchen and turn on the tap. Yes, water is a miracle beverage and should be your main source of hydration all day, every day. Here’s how to increase your water intake without getting tired of it.

Drinking enough water every day can enhance your heart and brain health, help your kidneys and joints function better, boost your mood and immune system, and make your skin glow. But how much water should you be drinking?

Unfortunately, the experts don’t agree. The adage about drinking eight ounces of water eight times a day hasn’t ever come through in the scientific data. So those giant water jugs you see people carrying at the gym and the fad diet recommendations that have you feeling like you’re floating away by lunchtime may not be the key for you to reach optimal hydration.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine suggest that women aim for about 11 cups daily and men 16, but you don’t need to force down a 90-ounce jug of water every day because the other things you eat and drink also count in your daily total: there’s water in your daily coffee, tea, milk and other beverages (except for sugary sodas or highly sweetened coffee drinks) as well as in the fresh veggies and fruits, soups, stews, chilis, smoothies and frozen popsicles you eat.

So how do you know if you are adequately hydrated?

First, are you thirsty? If so, grab a glass of water, drink up and see if that helps you stave off an oncoming headache, a craving for a sweet treat or a little brain fog. Second, check the color of your pee—it should be pale yellow or almost clear. If it’s darker, and especially if it looks more like apple cider vinegar, you need to drink more water pronto. Third, try the “pinch test,” by pinching the back of your hand for a few seconds. If the skin springs back in a second or two, you’re good. If not, it’s time to imbibe (and not a margarita).

Other considerations: Did you just work out? Spend time out in the heat? Or just sweat in general? Have you been eating a lot of salty foods? Those are also times when you should down some extra water.

Sometimes, though, water can seem like a boring beverage choice. Here are some healthy and hydrating alternatives to the giant soft drinks and coffees you might be eyeing in the drive-thru line:

  • Take a break and enjoy an unsweetened coffee or tea, either hot or iced.
  • Pop open a no-sugar-added sparkling water—they come in a bunch of flavors and feel like a fancy drink.
  • Make a batch of fruit- or veggie-infused water. Make it slightly sweet with strawberries or watermelon, tangy with citrus or refreshing with cucumber or herbs. There are tons of recipes online that combine a variety of flavor profiles (or just help you use up those clementines you’ve been ignoring in the back of the fridge).
  • Try some coconut water for a change of pace.
  • Make some freshly squeezed fruit juice (no added sugars or preservatives to worry about), or just eat a juicy piece of fruit for a faster treat.
  • Grab a kombucha to add probiotics to your day while you’re hydrating.
  • Have a “mocktail” when you are out on the town for all the hydration and none of the hangover.

Need additional inspiration? We’ve got you covered.

March 13, 2023


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