Water represents 60% of our body and is essential to life. Water should be our favorite daily beverage because it’s free, readily available, and best of all, zero calories. With the variety of beverages available, it can be easy to choose something other than water, such as an energy drink, coffee drink, soda, fruit drink, or sports drink. But while these alternative drink options may seem more refreshing and tasty in the moment, they also contain added sugar and calories that negatively impact our health over time. Although water may seem simple in comparison, it’s great for your body — and there are ways to make it fun.
Water has many benefits
According to the article “Are there any health benefits to drinking a gallon of water a day?” on the Cleveland Clinic website, drinking water is necessary because it:
- Lubricates and cushions joints.
- Allows your organs and cells to function properly.
- Helps digestion to evacuate waste from the body.
- Increases energy by preventing dehydration.
- Helps regulate body temperature.
- Improves the skin, your largest organ, by eliminating toxins.
- Manage cravings. Sometimes we confuse thirst with hunger signals. Drink a glass of water first to see if it satisfies your body’s natural cravings.
Sugar content of popular drinks
Let’s face it, sugary drink options tempt us from all sides. However, the extra sugar in drinks can be hidden and can provide even more calories than a snack or meal.
The following information, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the article “Rethink Your Drink,” lists the sugar content found in a 12-ounce serving of common beverages:
- Water: teaspoons of sugar-0, calories-0
- Lemonade, powder: teaspoons of sugar-3, calories-55
- Sports drinks: sugar-5 teaspoons, calories-97
- Brewed sweet tea: teaspoons of sugar-7, calories-115
- Energy drink: teaspoons of sugar-9, calories-160
- Soda: teaspoons of sugar-10, calories-155
- Fruit drink: teaspoons of sugar-10, calories-186
How much water do I need?
Fluid needs can vary with age, sex, level of physical activity and general health, as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states in its article “How Much water do you need?” People who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have certain health conditions have different fluid needs. The estimates given here are determined to be adequate intake levels for a generally healthy person based on age and gender. The daily estimate for total fluid needs, which includes water from food, is 11 1/2 cups for women and 15 1/2 cups for men. The amount of water to drink daily is estimated at about nine cups for women and 13 cups for men.
Specific instances in your life may require you to increase your fluid intake. If you are sick with fever, diarrhea or vomiting; are physically active; or it’s hot outside, your body will need extra water to function properly.
How to increase your water intake
If you’re struggling to make water your favorite drink, here are some tips:
- Follow him. Become aware of how much water you drink, which will help increase your ounces.
- Fill it. Take a reusable water bottle with you for easy refilling.
- Flavor it. Add fruits, vegetables or herbs to add a flavorful twist to plain water (see suggestions below).
- Set reminders. Set up notifications on your phone or smartwatch to remind you to keep drinking water throughout the day.
- Temper it. Try water with ice, room temperature or even warm to see what you prefer.
- Time it. Decide to drink a glass of water every time you eat a snack or a meal; it will add up throughout the day.
Variations of flavored water
Elevate plain water by adding different flavors. Get creative with combinations to find your favorite taste. Here are some different flavor combinations to enhance the flavor of the water.
- Lemon Lavender. Add slices of lemon and sprigs of fresh lavender for a refreshing twist.
- Citrus cucumber. Try slices of lemons, limes, oranges and cucumbers for a cool drink.
- Orange mint. Sliced oranges and fresh mint add zest to plain water.
- Blueberry and Grass. Combine fresh blueberries and rosemary to give your water a boost.
- Watermelon basil. The fresh combination of watermelon and basil screams summer.
- Cherry lime. Embellish the water with lime slices and fresh cherries to give a sweet and sour taste.
Keep the water flowing with one of these tasty combinations. The next time a sugar substitute tempts you, remember the many benefits of water and put these tips and tricks into practice to reach your hydration goals.
April Miller is with Penn State Extension in Beaver County.