Drinking Water Might be the Most Important Thing You Do

Katherine Cork's picture
By Katherine Cork on April 20, 2017

You’ve probably heard that you’re supposed to drink at least 8 cups of water a day. But what if you don’t like water and can’t imagine drinking that much every single day?

"As we get closer to warmer weather, it's important to make drinking plenty of water part of your everyday routine," said Mary Brewer, a clinical dietitian with Carilion Clinic's Dining and Nutrition Services.

Your body relies on water for nearly every function. It helps your metabolism and allows you to digest food and flush out toxins. It keeps your heart working effectively and improves blood flow. It even makes your skin look better.
"When you’re dehydrated, you may feel tired or have a headache, and your brain just doesn’t work as well as it could," said Mary. "So drinking water is one way to make sure you're at your best."
But if you struggle to keep up with the amount of water you should be drinking each day, take a look at Mary's helpful hints:

  • Sip water throughout the day; you don’t have to drink lots of water at once. Keep a bottle of water at your desk and one in your car. 
  • Get a reusable water bottle or cup that you like; maybe it is your favorite color or has a picture of your kids on it.
  • If you take medication, drink a few extra gulps of water with your pills. 
  • Try out different temperatures. Don’t like cold water? Try it room temperature. Or drink hot, herbal (decaffeinated) tea! Or, drop a flavored teabag in your ice water; it doesn't have to be hot for the flavor to seep out. 
  • You can also put fruit slices or herbs in your water to make your water taste a little better; try lemon, orange, strawberry or kiwi slices, or mint leaves (smash them up first so the flavor will infuse your water). You can even freeze pieces of fruit and use them as ice cubes!
  • If you absolutely think you could never drink anything but soda, try flavored, sparkling waters. Choose one that is flavored only with fruit essence, not artificial sweeteners. You'll get sparkle without the sugar, chemicals and calories. Plus, a new study found that even just one diet soda per day could increase your risk of stroke and dementia.
  • Some fruits and vegetables by themselves are a good source of water and you can get some of your water intake for the day by eating them. Watermelon, lettuce, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes and strawberries are not only healthy and delicious, they’re made largely of water. You can even try combining some of these into a smoothie. 

"The color of your urine is a good way to tell if you’re drinking enough water," explained Mary. "It should be pale yellow. If it’s darker than that, you need more water."

Let every trip to the bathroom be a reminder to pour a fresh glass of water, and keep in mind that alcohol and large amounts of caffeine can dehydrate your body. 

How much water you actually need depends on your size and how active and healthy you are, so talk to your doctor or nutritionist to find out what’s just right for you. For more information about how water helps your body, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institute on Aging