Drinking water has basically become a competitive sport, with everyone from athletes to models to medical professionals telling us we’d have superpowers if only we could get in our eight glasses per day. All this hydration hype is pretty guilt-inducing, especially considering the fact that I spend my days like regular person, not a superhero: hunched over a computer clenching a coffee cup.
Luckily, that eight-glasses-per-day rule is bogus. It stems from a 1945 study by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board recommending that people drink 2.5 liters of water per day, or around 84 ounces. But what most people leave out is the sentence that immediately follows the recommendation: “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.”
But even though all the water we need is generally in the fridge, most of us still aren’t getting enough. According to a study by the American Public Health Association, over half of American children are chronically dehydrated, and the numbers for adults are even more dismal. Some reports say that as many as 75 percent of us are at least a little dehydrated.
But it’s definitely possible to eat and drink your way to better health and hydration. Here are some of the best ways I’ve found to stay hydrated without constantly chugging boring old water.
Cup One: Yogurt with berries
Starting the morning with a cup of yogurt and berries is the key to feeling great all day. Since yogurt is 85 percent water, it’s a more hydrating alternative to say, a muffin, since both sugar and flour don’t have very high water content. Strawberries and blueberries are high in both water and fiber, so they’re great for hydration and general gut health.
Cup Two: Flavored—not sweetened—water
Hitting the juice bar every once in a while isn’t a bad way to stay hydrated, but even the freshly squeezed stuff comes with a lot of added sugar and calories. Switching out your morning glass of juice for a 16-ounce bottle of naturally flavored water is a great way to get hydration without the sugar rush. Hint is a good option because it packs the bright flavor of a fruit juice, minus all the stuff (sugar, diet sweeteners) you’re better off without.
Cup Three: A regular cup of coffee
Coffee is amazing, and I won’t hear a word against it. But seriously, after years of hearing about the dehydrating effects of caffeine, it was comforting to discover recent studies have found that normal amounts of coffee and caffeinated tea (two or three cups per day) generally had no adverse effects on hydration—so my morning cup of coffee absolutely counts toward my eight a day.
Cups Four and Five: Soup and salad
One of the easiest ways to stay hydrated is to swap a bag of salty chips at lunch with a cup of soup made from water-rich vegetables such as tomatoes and celery. However, I try to stick with homemade or low-sodium canned soups, since the prepared variety can contain too much salt for me.
A bright green salad of lettuce, cucumbers, and radishes is basically the same thing as drinking a glass of water—plus it contains tons of vitamins and fiber. All these veggies are made up of over 90 percent water, so not only do they provide tons of the vitamins, but they also go a long way toward your water count.
Cup Seven: Red grapes and red tea
Red seedless grapes make for a great, satisfying, and hydrating snack, and also contain resveratrol, an antioxidant that’s been shown to promote heart health. Rooibos, also called red tea, hails from South Africa and is packed full of antioxidants, tastes delicious, and is caffeine free.
Cup Eight: Chamomile tea
I generally don’t touch caffeine after 3:30 since it disrupts sleep. Chamomile is one the most ancient herbs around, and a cup of warm chamomile tea at the end of the day is a comforting way to relax and de-stress—plus, it’s been shown to help with everything from anxiety to diabetes. A cup just before bedtime is a calming way to wake up hydrated.