There’s a really good chance that you’re not drinking enough water. Recent research shows that nearly half of Americans are drinking far less than the recommended amount each day.
Fortunately, there’s something you can do about that. WellTuned spoke with Melissa Perry, a registered dietitian with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, to learn how to increase your daily water intake—and why it will help you.
Why water matters so much
Melissa Perry: Everyone needs to drink plenty of water. The specific amount of water that you need each day depends on factors like your age, size, where you live, and your activity level. When you’re sick, you may need more water, too.
Water has many health benefits, including keeping you from becoming dehydrated which can lead to serious complications. Water also:
- Helps your body digest food and helps you feel full longer
- Helps your kidneys remove waste from your blood.
- Reduces constipation
- Helps regulate your body temperature
- Keeps your joints and skin lubricated
- Protects your organs and tissues
- Helps improve brain function.
There’s also an association between hydration and longevity. So, drinking enough water may also help you live longer.
Tips for drinking more water
Melissa Perry: Here are some easy ways to boost your water consumption:
- Keep it with you. It’s always easier to drink water if you don’t have to go searching for it. Keep a bottle with you at all times.
- Upgrade your water bottle. Purchase a water bottle that you like so you’ll enjoy carrying it around with you.
- Jazz up your water. Tired of plain water? Add citrus fruit, herbs, or berries to add flavor to your water.
- Make it fizzy. Another way to change things up is to switch to sparkling water. Look for the unflavored, unsweetened kind to avoid adding unwanted sugar to your diet.
- Add flavor packets. A great way to punch up plain water is to add a zero-calorie flavor packet. You can carry the packets in your bag or desk at work, so you’ll have them when you need them.
- Replace sugary drinks. If you’re a regular soda drinker or a fancy coffee drink devotee, consider switching out at least one of those drinks for plain or flavored water.
- Use technology. Download a water tracker app on your smartphone that will remind you to drink water.
- Drink water in restaurants. Order water when you dine out. It will save you money and calories while boosting your water consumption for the day.
- Be a good role model. You may be encouraging your children to drink more water. Knowing that they’re watching you may inspire you to be more aware of how much water you’re drinking.
Cut back on caffeine
Melissa Perry: If you’re drinking a lot of caffeinated beverages, you might not be drinking as much water as you should. Plus, you may be drinking a lot of extra calories and interfering with your sleep.
The caffeine in coffee, tea, and diet soft drinks can increase your urine production. Fortunately, consumed in moderation, these beverages are not excessively dehydrating. However, if you’re consuming large amounts of caffeine, it could create a larger diuretic effect—so you’d need to drink more water to make up for it. So, water really is a better choice for staying hydrated.
“There’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation for how much water you should try to drink each day,” says Melissa. “Everyone has different hydration needs. But a good general rule of thumb is 64 ounces—that’s eight standard cups—of water each day. And if you exercise or spend time in the heat, make sure you drink more.”
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.