Staying hydrated is a key to health and well-being—but it doesn’t take much to mess up the water balance in our bodies. In healthy adults with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI), water accounts for 60% of body weight, and dehydration can occur if as little as 3% of that weight is lost from water depletion. In fact, water can even be considered a critical nutrient since going without it can be fatal within days. Among water’s many important responsibilities: regulating body temperature, aiding in digestion, keeping skin supple, and supporting cognitive and cardiac function—and those duties are just for starters.
Still, getting down adequate amounts of water can be less than appetizing, and many alternative beverages are packed with health-harming sugar. But don’t worry, below we have six drink suggestions that will elevate your hydration status in a healthy way. And if you need more motivation to up your fluid intake, read about what happens to your body when you stop drinking enough water. Spoiler alert: It’s not good.
Just like with dinner party guests, bubbly water is a lot more fun than flat versions. That’s even more true if you go for a flavored seltzer. Just be sure to look for varieties without any added sugar, such as Rishi Sparking Botanicals and Poland Spring (you might want to check out the sodium content too). If all else fails, you can flavor plain seltzer yourself with a squeeze of citrus or even a dash of vanilla extract. Note: Spiked or hard seltzers shouldn’t be what you turn to when your main mission is to hydrate. Nice try, though.
Whether you opt for fresh leaves (like mint) steeped in hot water or you brew a bag of an herbal, black or green variety, tea is hydrating and also packed with antioxidants. Hot tea does the job just as well, but it’s easier to consume more ounces of an iced tea than a hot one. Skip the sweetener, if you can, and definitely steer clear of these particular iced teas, which do more harm than good.
It seems antithetical, but drinks made for athletes (pro and weekend warriors alike) often contain harmful added sugars. So if you go the sports drink route, be sure to look for ones that replenish your fluids and electrolytes healthfully, such as Halo Sport and the just-add-water brand LMNT.
Hydrate while you dehydrate? This may come as a shock, but for caffeine to have a significant diuretic effect, studies show that you need to consume the equivalent of five cups of brewed coffee.
As registered dietitian Keri Glassman notes: The National Academies of Medicine recommends 15.5 cups of fluids a day for men and 11.5 cups of fluids a day for women… but they’re talking about “fluids,” not glasses of water. Adds Glassman: “While I definitely want [clients] to drink plain old water throughout the day, hydration comes in many other forms—teas, juices, soups, smoothies, and yes, even a couple cups of coffee.”
Read this to learn the healthiest way to drink your coffee, according to nutritionists.
Vegetable juices (without added sugars) are a fine choice when it comes to shaking up your hydration strategy—and probably a healthier choice than fruit juices, which contain natural sugars that hit your bloodstream quickly when they’re stripped of their fiber during juicing. If liquified veggies aren’t your thing, eating water-dense vegetables, such as cucumbers, bell peppers, lettuce and celery can also keep you hydrated.
You can kick your glass of tap up a notch with water drops, such as the detoxifying ones from Sakara, which they say makes your water more “functional” with ingredients such as chlorophyll. Or, try the coconut flavor drops from Pure Inventions. Bonus: Dropper or squeeze bottles are fairly portable, which helps you stay hydrated when you’re on the go.
For more hydrating tips, check out these 23 water-rich foods you should be eating regularly, and sign up for our newsletter for daily healthy eating advice.