You might be looking at that headline and thinking, What do you mean, "How to drink more water"? You just drink more water! Well, first of all, don't be so literal. And second, if it were that simple, we here in the U.S. wouldn't be suffering a hydration crisis. It's true: A large percentage of Americans don't drink enough water, and dehydration is especially common as people age. In fact, up to 28% of older Americans aren't meeting their hydration needs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that water intake is "significantly lower" in older adults.
Luckily, Americans seem to be on track to turn that around. The Stanley tumbler has become a cultural phenomenon, and people everywhere are lugging huge water bottles around with them in an effort to stay hydrated on the go.
That's important, given that dehydration can lead to a range of health issues, registered dietitian Scott Keatley, co-owner of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy, tells Yahoo Life. "Water is the medium in which most of our metabolic processes take place," he says. "We have body systems to protect us from deadly dehydration, but a decrease in body fluid by only 2% decreases athletic performance, cardiovascular function and the body’s ability to regulate temperature."
Luckily, dehydration is easily treatable by getting in more fluids. It can be a little tricky to figure out your exact hydration needs, but the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommends aiming for the following goals.
About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
Worth noting: Those recommended numbers include hydration you get from water, other beverages and food.
To make sure you're staying hydrated, Keatley recommends that you "start by having a fair amount of fruits and vegetables, which not only have valuable nutrients but a significant amount of water." Naturally, you'll want to ensure you're drinking plenty of water — and coffee and tea can also help you reach your hydration goals, he says. "If my clients are very active or sweat more than the average person, we discuss increasing intake based on their specific needs," Keatley says.
Doing something as simple as carrying around a water bottle with you (and actually drinking from it throughout the day) can make a big difference too. Just know this, per Keatley: "You don’t need a two-gallon jug to meet your needs." Instead, he suggests getting a bottle that can hold up to a liter or so of liquid. "Filled up twice, [it] will help you meet your hydration needs for the day and is small enough to be used if you go on long walks or hit the gym," he says.
Bottles with motivational time markers can also help you stay on schedule, Keatley says, adding, "Sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder to take a little bit of time and have a beverage." Keep in mind, though, that you don't need to go overboard with your hydration. "There is a point at which you’re not benefiting yourself by chugging water," Keatley says. His recommendation: Set a daily goal and "see how that works for you."
You're feeling thirsty already, right? Good. But the key to effecting fundamental change is acquiring new habits, and that is where a number of super-practical, easy-to-use products can come in handy. And if they're smart-looking and fun, well, all the better.
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