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  • Robin Fillner

Best Six Drinks for Staying Hydrated

Vital Facts for Water and Fluid Nutrition


A 2023 Civic Science Poll shows that less than half of Americans drink enough fluids, such as water. Drinking enough water and other fluids is essential to a healthy diet and exercise program. Keep reading to find out how much fluid your body needs daily, calculate your body’s fluid needs, and discover six healthy drinks and a delicious recipe that can help you stay hydrated.






Health Benefits of Hydration


When you are hydrated, you have enough fluids to support your body’s needs. Water, in particular, is essential for survival and constitutes more than half of your body weight. Your body depends on water and other fluids for every biological process. 


Some of the health benefits of staying hydrated include:


  • Removing heat through sweating

  • Reducing the wear and tear on joints

  • Carrying nutrients and oxygen to the body

  • Maintaining blood pressure

  • Assisting in wound healing

  • Supporting the immune system

  • Helping you have regular bowel movements

  • Keeping skin smooth and elastic

  • Boosting brain energy and thinking

  • Enhancing your physical activity performance

  • Helping the kidneys remove waste

  • Facilitating weight loss and appetite suppression

  • Getting better quality sleep (but drink early enough to prevent bathroom wakeup calls)



How Much Water Should You Drink Daily?


Photo by Arnie Watkins

 



You usually don’t have to worry about drinking too much water or other fluids if you are healthy. In fact, most people probably don’t drink enough. However, you may become dehydrated when your body loses more fluids than it takes in. Dehydration can occur in hot temperatures, during intense exercise, from illness, or due to some medications. 


Certain people are at a higher risk for dehydration. These include:



It's important to remember that everyone’s hydration needs are unique. The amount of water or fluids you should drink depends on many factors. Some of these include your body composition, age, gender, climate, health status, and physical activity level. You may also need more fluids if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.


Are You Hydrated?


Are you curious about how much water or fluids you should drink daily? Take control of your health, and check out this water calculator here for an estimate. 


Keep in mind that this calculator doesn’t account for individual activity levels or health conditions. If you have concerns about how much fluid you should drink daily, ask your healthcare provider.


What Drinks Are the Best for Hydration?


With a wide variety of drink options, which drinks quench your thirst and replenish your body? Advertising and myths can make choosing healthy drinks confusing. Let’s dive into some healthful beverages you can feel good about drinking. 


Water

Water is an excellent choice for staying hydrated. It’s inexpensive and calorie-free, making it the perfect choice for weight management. For better hydration, sip on water throughout the day rather than taking in large amounts all at once. Also, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking water. When thirsty, you may already be mildly dehydrated.



For a flavor boost, try adding some fruit chunks, berries, cucumber slices, or citrus (lemon, lime, or orange) wedges. Or you can enhance your water with a ¼ cup of lemonade, tea, or unsweetened juice. Sparkling water is a satisfying way to hydrate, too—without all the added sugar. (Photo by Chuck Wallace)


Agua Fresca

Agua fresca is a traditional Mexican drink made with fruit and lightly sweetened. Consider using watermelon, honeydew melon, strawberries, or pineapple. Add 4 cups of fruit, 2 to 3 cups of water, lime juice to taste, a pinch of salt, and a cup of ice to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth, and enjoy!




Consider using ripe seasonal fruit or adding a natural sugar alternative, such as stevia, for added sweetness. Experiment by adding mint, vanilla, or chia seeds. Or try swapping out water for unsweetened coconut water. (Photo by Peggy Anke)


Sports Drinks

Does your body need to hydrate with sports drinks? These drinks can help if you sweat profusely for longer than 60 minutes, such as during high-intensity workouts. 


Sports drinks contain electrolytes, like sodium, essential for balancing salt loss. The electrolytes help replace the ones lost while sweating. Sports drinks also contain sugar to fuel the body for athletic performance. Check nutrition labels to compare amounts of added sugar, and avoid dyes and artificial ingredients.





For adults and children who aren’t vigorously sweating, frequently drinking sports beverages may lead to health problems, such as diabetes and kidney disease, linked to high sugar intake. Also, the large amount of sodium per serving adds up and may contribute to unhealthy levels of salt intake. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio


Coconut Water

Coconut water is just that; it is mostly water. It also contains electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium. The main difference from sports drinks is that coconut water contains natural forms of sugar.





Natural sugar differs from processed sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup in many sports drinks. Again, check the nutrition labels to avoid coconut water made with added sugar. (Photo by Any Lane )


Tea

Herbal teas, such as chamomile, hibiscus, and mint, are great caffeine-free sources of hydration. You can have them cold or hot. Plus, teas are full of helpful plant compounds called antioxidants. Caffeinated versions, such as black and green tea, can also hydrate you when consumed in moderation. The same goes for coffee too.



(Photo by Alina Matveycheva)


Smoothies

Finally, can smoothies be hydrating? Absolutely! Smoothie recipes are fluid-based and include fruits, veggies, or both. Consider adding many healthful ingredients, such as leafy greens, chia or hemp seeds, cashews, and powders for extra vitamins or proteins. When buying store-made smoothies, check the ingredients to avoid added sugar.





Hydrating Watermelon and Strawberry Smoothie


You won’t want to miss this hydrating watermelon and strawberry smoothie recipe. It has electrolytes, fiber, vitamins, and protein. It may be sweet enough, but if not, try adding a natural sweetener, such as 3-4 dates or 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup. This recipe makes 3-4 glasses.


Ingredients:

  • Half of a small, seedless watermelon cut into chunks

  • Handful of strawberries

  • One banana

  • ½ cup of lite canned coconut milk (Optional: substitute this for water if you’d like to cut back on calories or fat. Or use full-fat coconut milk for extra creaminess. Check the label for the number of calories and fat per serving.)

  • ½ cup of water

  • 1 cup ice


Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy! See the original recipe from Dr. Axe. (Photo by Antoni Shkraba)



Revive and Thrive With Healthful Hydration


This article discussed your body’s needs to stay hydrated. Everyone’s hydration amount depends on their personal needs. Try the hydration calculator to find out how much water to drink daily. 


Water, agua fresca, sports drinks, tea, and smoothies may be the best drinks for staying hydrated. For a hydrating, nutrient-dense boost, try the delicious smoothie recipe.





Robin Fillner, RN, BSN, CMSRN is an Oncology Nurse and Health Writer. Using her Functional Nutrition Health Coach Certification and healthcare expertise, her passion is writing about food and lifestyle through the functional lens. Find her at robinfillner.com or linkedin.com/in/robinfillner/



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