Adding more water to your diet can be a bit intimidating if you’re not used to consuming more than a glass a day. Although it should be the one beverage that we consume the most of daily — especially if you’re extremely active — sugary drinks such as juice, soda, and even smoothies tend to take priority in our lives. But like almost everything that we need in our lives, drinking more water isn’t as simple — or pleasing — as we’re made to believe.
“Water is not only one of the primary constituents of the planet, but also an integral part of our human bodies,” wellness expert Dr. Kevin Kinney told INSIDER. “Up to 85% of our body is made up of water, and of that, muscles are about 80% water and the brain is about 75% water. Needless to say, proper hydration is vitally important to the basic functions of life and imperative for optimal performance.
But before you jump on the “drink gallon of water a day” bandwagon, here are nine things — as told by the experts — to keep in mind about increasing your water intake.
Try to avoid making your water “taste better.”
Those mix-in lemonade and fruit punch packets are not great.
If you’re not used to consuming large amounts of water, adding products to give it a more appealing flavor may seem like a way to help. According to Dr. Kinney, however, this shouldn’t be your go-to fix.
“Make sure you are drinking more water not more artificial sweeteners and flavors,” he said. “Many times people attempt to make water ‘taste better’ by adding products that contain harmful substances. Because your body is made up of 70% water, it is important that you replenish this supply with clean and pure sources.”
You can flush out certain vitamins and minerals with increased hydration.
Too much water is not a good thing.
Consuming more water is definitely needed, but even with giving your body what it needs, you can be taking that away, too.
“As you intake more water you can begin to flush water soluble vitamins and minerals,” Dr. Kinney told INSIDER. “Water soluble vitamins, such as the B Vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6 & B12) & vitamin C, are not stored long term and may be excreted with excess water intake if you’re not taking in proper supplementation, too. Other key micronutrients that can be affected by a sudden increase in hydration include folic acid or — most detrimental — sodium, which can lead to hyponatremia (low blood sodium, which is rare due to the standard American diet).”
If you’re looking for added flavor, fresh fruit and vegetables are your best bet
It’s a natural way to add some flavor.
If you absolutely feel like you need a little flavor in order for you to get the proper amount of water that’s needed, substitute those artificial flavors for something healthier.
“It is OK to add fresh fruit or vegetables to your water if you want to give it some flavor,” said Dr. Kinney. “The most common added are cucumbers, citrus fruits and melons. Infusing fruit into your water can increase your metabolism, flush toxins and help your body naturally release fat cells.”
Some brands of water are better for you than others.
Some brands of water are better for you than others.
Some brands add minerals and other substances.
So now you’re buying more water to help get you along to your goals. Great! But are you sure that you’ve picked up the right brand? Dr. Kinney told INSIDER that though we’re made to believe that any type of water will do, that’s far from the truth.
“Not all water is created equal,” he said. “Some brands add minerals and other substances for taste and may increase thirst depending on the additives. Some waters have lower pH levels or are alkaline opposed to neutral — which can have benefits in reducing acidity in the body. Some brands are simply bottled tap water or purified water which can come from a variety of sources. Fresh spring water tends to offer better options.”
Do your best to avoid drinking from plastic bottles.
It can also be good for your wallet.
Though most water is packaged and sold in individual plastic bottles, Dr. Tania Elliott— health/medical expert and chief medical officer of EHE said that we should avoid drinking from these as much as possible.
“Try to avoid plastic water bottles,” she told INSIDER. “Not only is it bad for the environment, but the water isn’t necessarily purified and the plastic can release a chemical called BPA that can harm our bodies. Even BPA free bottles can have chemicals we don’t want.”
Drinking eight, eight ounce glasses of water per day is only the minimum amount you should be consuming.
There are apps that can help you track this.
Though the most-known rule of thumb is to take in eight full eight ounce glasses of water per day, Dr. David Greuner of NYC Surgical Associates said that this is really just the minimum.
“This is better viewed as a minimum, and intake should be increased or maintained based on personal lifestyle,” he told INSIDER. “If you’re sick or pregnant, exercising, or outside on a hot day, your body is consistently losing fluids and should be refreshed at a higher pace than usual. Consistently having a bottle or glass of water next to you is a great way to stay hydrated and drink more water.”
You’ll be more regular.
Drinking water can help prevent constipation.
Regional Wellness Director at FLIK Hospitality Group, Allison Knott, MS, RDN, CSSD told INSIDER that if you’re considering adding more water in your diet, you should prepare yourself for more time in the bathroom.
“If you’re planning on drinking more water, you should know, you might be more regular,” she said. “Drinking more water can help to prevent constipation. Staying adequately hydrated helps to move food through the digestive tract. This is especially important if you’re simultaneously aiming to increase your fiber intake.”
You’ll likely improve in your workouts.
Any level of dehydration can impact your performance.
Of course more water will help you replenish what you’ve lost after a workout, but according to Knott, it can help you have a better workout, too.
“Even mild dehydration, as low as 1%, can impact sports performance,” she said. “So, drinking more water might improve your gym performance. Staying adequately hydrated helps to maintain blood volume which aids in oxygen transport, maintenance of body temperature, and electrolyte balance. Individual needs, type and length of exercise, intensity, and environment where exercise is performed, are all factors that play a role in hydration and electrolyte needs making a one-size-fits-all approach difficult. Remember that 20% of total fluid needs comes from the foods we eat, so in addition to fluid intake throughout the day, place a focus on eating an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables to provide additional fluid.”
Don’t “shock” your body out of sugar.
Gradually swap out sugary beverages.
When embarking on a new health journey, going cold turkey may seem like the best option to hit your goals. Although that may want to be your first thing to cut out completely, you may want to take it slow to start.
“Often, we see people trying to swap out soda or a sweetened beverage with water, so expect your sugar intake to decrease,” Knott told INSIDER. “Start slow and replace one soda a day with water to help ease your body into the transition. With the decrease in sugar intake from soda, you might find yourself craving sugar elsewhere. Try infusing water with fruits and herbs to add in extra flavor and “trick” your body into thinking you’re consuming sugar.”
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