Editor’s note: This article originally ran July 9, 2018, and was updated March 20, 2023
You might be tired of people telling you — or even telling yourself — that you have to drink more water. In recent years, staying hydrated has become all the rage, complete with special goal water bottles, water consumption apps and group water challenges.
You don’t need to join any water fan clubs, but there is a worthy goal in all the hype: Drinking water is key to optimal health. Your body is about 60 to 70 percent water, and water helps provide a balance of body fluids, keeps your skin looking healthy, assists your kidney health and helps maintain normal bowel function.
According to Natalie Newell, registered dietitian for Rex Wellness Center of Wakefield, while it’s a good rule of thumb to consume at least 64 ounces of water per day, “no single person is the same, so it’s important to pay attention to your daily hydration needs. A great way to pay attention to your hydration level is to pay attention to your thirst level and urine output and color.”
You need to drink fluids daily, even though foods like fruits and vegetables can provide you with some liquids. Consuming foods with high water content also allows you to feel fuller, helping you control calorie intake.
Foods with high water content include:
- Fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, celery, tomatoes, melon and oranges
- Popsicles (but watch the sugar)
- Smoothies (same sugar warning here)
But you should still be drinking:
- Plain old water (the best choice)
- Hot or cold tea, unsweetened
- Coconut water
- Sparkling water
- Natural juices—make sure there’s no sugar added, and drink in moderation
- Water with added fresh fruit
If you get bored by the taste of water, here are some tips to make it easier to enjoy:
- Add crushed ice and a squeeze of lemon
- Add cucumber, strawberries or other fresh fruit or vegetables
- Find a bottle or special cup you enjoy using, especially one that keeps water ice-cold
- Set goals, such as 40 ounces of water before lunch and then 40 ounces before dinner (you can try one of those water apps, if you’re interested)
- Make sure you have a water bottle or glass you like using and that works for your needs. For example, some people prefer a straw so they don’t need to unscrew a bottle top. And dishwasher-safe is always a good way to go to make sure your bottle is clean and ready.
Want to talk to a dietitian about what you eat and drink? Contact UNC Wellness Centers or Rex Wellness Centers online to make an appointment.