Hydrate the Healthy Way

Water is essential for many bodily functions — it flushes toxins out of your body, carries nutrients to your cells, regulates temperature, lubricates joints, and helps keep your organs (especially your kidneys) healthy. Even mild dehydration can leave you feeling sluggish, light-headed, and less focused. Thirst can also be mistaken for hunger, leading to unnecessary eating and making weight management more difficult.

Most people have heard the rule to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water, or 64 ounces per day. This recommendation is easy to remember, but isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends women consume 91 ounces of fluids and men 125 ounces per day. You’ll likely need even more on days when you exercise or spend time in the heat. Most people get about 80 percent of their fluids from beverages and 20 percent from food, according to the IOM.

The key to healthy hydration is to drink calorie-free or low-calorie beverages (read: unsweetened) and eat foods that are naturally filled with water (think fresh fruits and vegetables). While caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea count toward your fluid intake (it’s a myth that they are actually dehydrating!), too much caffeine can lead to headaches, insomnia, and overall feelings of jitteriness, so they shouldn’t be your primary source of fluid.

Plain water isn’t the only healthy way to stay hydrated. Here are some fun and creative ways to help you meet your fluid needs .

  1. Make your own spa water, like the ones you’ll find in your Bon Appétit café. Get creative, mixing fruit, vegetables, and herbs into plain or sparkling water.  
  2. Spike your seltzer with a splash of juice, fresh fruit, or crushed mint.
  3. Sip on herbal iced tea. Make your own by brewing a batch of tea, chilling, and adding a squeeze of lemon or other citrus or fruit for a hint of sweetness.
  4. Enjoy a bowl of chilled soup. Try this cucumber-avocado soup for thirst-quenching lunch that proves soup can be enjoyed at any time of year.
  5. Swap your morning bowl of cereal for a smoothie bowl.
  6. Chow down on fresh fruits and vegetables, which are primarily made of water.
  7. Try one of the new trendy waters — coconut, cactus, maple, or artichoke. Choose varieties without added sugars.

Read more about whether you food or drink is (de)hydrating here.