While there is actually no hard and fast rule of how much water you should drink a day — not even the eight 8-ounce glasses a day rule — everyone can agree that water is good for you and essential to good health.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the Institute of Medicine determined that men should drink 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day, and women should drink 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day. Note, however, the total beverages part. We get our water from fruits, vegetables and non-water beverages — such as milk and juice, and even beer, wine, coffee, tea and soda — so all of these contribute to the total fluids we should consume on a daily basis. Water, of course, is ideal because it isn’t loaded with sugar (curse you, delicious juice) and therefore calorie-free.
No, you don’t have to necessarily sit there counting eight glasses of water a day. For starters, the amount you drink daily also depends on weather conditions, how active you are, how healthy you are or even how pregnant you might be (surprise!).
Drinking too much — you know extremes are never a good thing — is just as bad as not drinking enough. Drowning your kidneys with too much water, says the Mayo Clinic, can lead to low sodium levels in your blood, “a condition called hyponatremia.” Don’t worry. Unless you’re a marathon runner who has to drink lots of water or you’re sitting at your desk trying to determine how long it would take you to drink three 1.5-liter bottles of water before you punch out for the day, you’re not very likely to develop hyponatremia.
Drinking too little can lead to dehydration and make you all headach-y and sluggish. It’s easy to lose track of how much fluid you’re consuming daily, especially if you’re not terribly active and rely on caffeinated beverages to get through your day — not to mention if you’re not a huge fan of water.
If you’re not sure whether you’re drinking enough, next time you pop to the loo for a sissy tinkle, take a look. Is it colorless or light yellow? You’re drinking enough. Is it so dark you wonder if it might be nuclear? Well, fill up that water bottle, sonny, because that one apple you had last week and the five cups of coffee a day are not cutting it.
OK, fair enough. Drinking even 1.5 liters of water a day every day can get a little boring even to someone who genuinely likes water. Adding some fruit juice is an easy way to add a bit of flavor and zing, but the sugar content is a problem if you are trying to lose or maintain your weight or are diabetic.
Sure, there are infusers you can order from Amazon to create flavored water recipes that, while not terribly complicated, are still a chore. Let’s face it: Someone who doesn’t even want to drink plain ole filtered water is probably not going to buy special equipment to jazz it up. Times are still tough, and who has the countertop space to spare?
They are out there, and right now MiO is the hot shot. But buying “water enhancers” can get expensive, and if you’re not keen on consuming stuff that has been sweetened artificially, then this isn’t really an option for you. While MiO is zero everything across the board, MiOEnergy contains 60 milligrams of caffeine and 10 milligrams of sodium per serving. Other flavor enhancers on the market include 4C and Crystal Light.
If uncomplicated and cost-effective is what you seek in your water enhancer, then look no further than your kitchen. All manner of berries are in season, and if you get them to throw into your cereal or yogurt or to nibble on their own, then scoop a few, crush them and throw them into your water bottle. The only way this gets any easier is to use frozen berries, which of course have the added bonus of serving as delicious little ice cubes.
You can slice up fruit of any kind, really: apples, pears, peaches, pomegranates — whatever you prefer. When are you seriously going to eat a pomegranate? Just slice it up and throw it in your water. Two birds, one stone.
Too sweet? Consider a splash of lemon juice — yeah, even the bottled kind. Why not? Of course, you can add a few slices of lemon or lime as well. If you like citrus but think eating oranges at your desk is too messy, get your vitamin C by slicing the orange up and throwing it into your water.
Not crazy about fruit? Throw in some mint leaves and sliced cucumbers. It’s quite refreshing and pleasant, unless you really hate cucumbers.
Whatever flavoring method you decide to go with, just bear in mind that when you feel thirsty, it’s time to drink something. Ideally, at least once in a while, that something will be water. And remember that getting a bottle of water and taking a sip or two from it doesn’t mean you’ve drank water for the day. If you’re that person, then consider adding some flavor to it so it becomes part of your daily fluid intake.