Your body requires an adequate amount of fluids to function properly. It helps regulate body temperature, aids digestion, flushes out toxins, relieves fatigue and works as a good lubricator of joints, tissues and organs.
It is generally recommended to drink at least eight to 10 glasses of fluids a day, but individual fluid requirements may vary from person to person. Plus, you may need to drink more fluids to replenish your body after exercising or engaging in other activity that makes you sweat and depletes fluid from your body.
Environmental factors and certain health conditions may also require you to further increase your fluid intake.
You also may need a greater amount of fluids when you eat more protein (the body requires water to flush out the element nitrogen in protein) or fiber (soluble fiber absorbs water).
One simple way to determine whether you are drinking enough water is to look at the color of your urine. If it is pale straw to amber in color, it means that you are well hydrated. If it is darker, you need to boost your water intake. Other common signs of dehydration include lack of energy, headaches and lightheadedness.
Here are some great tips to help you increase your fluid intake.
1. Motivate Yourself
Motivation is perhaps the most obvious yet important factor for reaching a target. The best way to motivate yourself to drink more water is to be convinced of its benefits and the fact that you NEED to do it.
To further push yourself, put small notes with witty one-liners prompting you to drink water on places like your desk, in your room or anywhere else that you spend a lot of time.
Plus, consider using a mobile app to keep a track of your water intake and remind you to drink more water. You can also set an alarm to go off as a reminder every one or two hours.
2. Identify Your Thirst
The signals for hunger and thirst are controlled by the same area of the brain, the hypothalamus. It sends the same signals for both and as a result we tend to confuse thirst for hunger.
The next time you feel hungry, drink some water and wait for about 20 minutes to see if you still feel hungry. If the water satiated your hunger, chances are that you were actually thirsty rather than hungry.
3. Keep it Handy
Carrying a reusable water bottle with you in your car, purse or gym bag can be a great way to help you drink more water as it will be easily accessible.
Also, it will help you avoid colas and other sweetened beverages that you may be tempted to choose as a replacement for water when you do not have water handy. Plus, the bottle in hand will work as an effective visual cue for you to drink more water.
4. Explore More Options
Apart from water, you can also increase your fluid intake by drinking herbal teas like chamomile tea, ginger tea, peppermint tea and others. Drinking a few cups of green tea is another good option that will benefit your overall health as well because it is loaded with antioxidants.
Other options include:
- Fresh fruit and vegetable juices
- Coconut water
- Low-fat milk
- Soy milk and other soy drinks
- Natural smoothies
- Frozen fruit pops
- Flavored ices
These options, however, should be used as a secondary source of fluid intake and should be taken in moderation.
5. Add Natural Flavorings
Perk up the taste of plain water with a little something extra by infusing it with a subtle flavor.
You can use orange slices, pineapple chunks, lemon wedges, cucumber slices, watermelon chunks, berries, grapes and other citrus fruits, whether fresh or frozen.
When using fresh fruits, use the ripe ones for maximum sweetness and flavor. Herbs like mint leaves, mint extract, basil leaves and rosemary sprigs can also be used.
For example, you can put three cups of strawberries (cut in halves) and eight lightly crushed basil leaves in a two-quart mason jar. Add six cups of ice and pour in water to fill the jar to the top. Stir with a wooden spoon and put the lid on. Place it in the refrigerator for at least two hours and then enjoy your flavored water.
Similarly, you can try combinations like watermelon and rosemary; honeydew melon and lime; strawberry and mango; strawberry, kiwi and lemon; mint and cucumber; cherries and lemon; and apple, orange and grapes.
6. Water-Rich Fruits and Veggies
Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet that have high water content. Some such foods are cucumbers, watermelon, celery, lettuce, grapes, cherries, strawberries and papaya.
In addition to increasing your fluid intake, these foods add minimal calories to your diet and also promote a feeling of fullness so you don’t overeat.
In fact, according to a 2009 study by researchers at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, water-rich fruits and vegetables containing hydrating salts, minerals and sugars can hydrate your body twice as effectively as a glass of water. A University of Naples study also found that plant chemicals like lutein and zeaxanthin can help increase hydration even further.
You can eat these foods as snacks or add them to your salads and smoothies.
Do not drink too much fluid before going to bed as it may disturb your sleep.