We rely on it in so many ways–to brush our teeth, to clean our bodies, to wash the laundry and the car, but do we get enough of it in our bodies each day? We are made up of about 60% water, so water is a vital component to how our bodies function and how we feel. Without enough daily intake of water, we can become tired, sluggish, moody, constipated, develop problematic skin conditions and prone to weight gain.

How much water do we need each day and do other beverages count?

Water for Optimal HealthAccording to the Harvard School of Public Health, “It’s impossible to set a single requirement for how much water the hypothetical averageAmerican needs each day. The amount you need depends on how much you eat, what the weather is, and how active you are. So instead of setting an estimated average requirement for water, as it has done for other nutrients, the Institute of Medicine has set an adequate intake of 125 ounces (about 15 cups) for men and 91 ounces for women (about 11 cups). (5) Note that this is not a daily target, but a general guide. In most people, about 80% of this comes from beverages; the rest comes from food.” 

The bottom line? Water is complete. Our bodies will get everything they need from drinking just water, so make at least half of your daily consumption of fluids be just plain water. If you desire to drink other beverages, choose wisely, especially if you are trying to lose weight. Refer to the pitcher on the left to determine what the experts recommend.

Finding it difficult to drink plain water?

If you are not used to drinking water as your primary source of fluid each day, it is completely normal to have some difficulty adjusting your taste buds to its simple refreshment. Here are a few ways you can remedy this:

Use the principle of crowding out.

Crowding out is the idea that you don’t have to focus on all of the things you want to remove from your diet/lifestyle, but just start incorporating the good things you want to have instead. Over time, the good stuff will crowd out the bad. So, keep incorporating water into your daily routine. Replace that mid-morning soda with a tall glass of water. After a week or two, replace the afternoon coffee with 2 glasses of water.

Add a boost of flavor.

A really simple way to add flavor to water is to infuse it with something natural such as fruit, herbs or even veggies. I usually use a pitcher or Nalgene bottle to create the combinations I want, but there are several water infusing bottles that are great for people on the go. Infused water adds a bit of extra vitamins to your water without adding sugar and makes for a refreshing change from drinking plain water.

Always have it handy.

One of the reasons people don’t drink enough water every day can be because it is not readily available. It you don’t have access to water when you become thirsty, you may be more inclined to grab something that has empty calories, including food. Thirst can actually disguise itself and make the body think it is hungry when in fact it is becoming dehydrated. By keeping a water bottle with you at all times and sipping on it throughout the day, you will be less likely to grab sugary beverages or snacks and be less likely to become fatigued.

Keep it cold.

You may find that drinking cold water tastes better than drinking it at room temperature. I realize that may sound silly because it is water and water really doesn’t taste like anything. But…cold water has the ability to quench the thirst unlike water that is at room temp or even warm. I am personally more likely to drink water and drink it in larger amounts if it is cold.

Making the change to drinking water in place of other beverages may be uncomfortable at first, but stay consistent and you will see positive results. Small, consistent steps lead to lasting change.