We know! We need to drink more water. Every single day without fail and a single cup won’t do. Correct?
Correct. For those of us who hydrate regularly, we know our bodies will catch on. The more water we drink, the more we like it, the better we feel, the more we want it. When we’re low, we notice.
But for those of us who struggle with the immensity of the daily requirements and often simply ‘forget,’ the key questions are: how much do we really need and how can we meet our daily requirements and have a little fun while we’re at it? Are all types of water created equal? And do other beverages contribute to our daily allowance?
Here with advice is RVNA’s nutrition team, Meg Whitbeck, MS, RDN, and her newest colleague, Ava Safir, JD, MS, RDN.
How much water do we need each day? Half your body weight in ounces per day, increasing to ¾ or even 1x your body weight if you exercise. You can hydrate with any clear beverage that is unsweetened (real or artificial sweetener), decaffeinated, and alcohol-free. Decaf herbal tea, mineral water, seltzer with a splash of fruit juice… it all counts. If you have a health condition that impacts your need for water – always follow the recommendations that your physician provides.
Are all waters created equal?
Mineral water is typically from a natural, spring-fed source. Water that is from a natural source/spring will have minerals in it from the rock/ground surrounding the area. So, if a spring flows through a limestone rock, it will have higher levels of calcium than water that flows over granite. You can also find sodium, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium and many other minerals dissolved into mineral water. That’s the good news. Pollutants also find their way into mineral water too, so you need to proceed with caution. Know the source of your water, check the bottling dates, and choose glass bottles! We recommend no more than 10 oz. per day.
Purified water, meanwhile, is treated and filtered to remove any possible contaminants. Distilled water – a form of purified water -- is boiled, and the steam is collected and bottled. Distilled water has no minerals in it. Sounds harmless, right? So why don’t we all drink distilled water all the time? Well, due to the lack of minerals, distilled water doesn’t contain any of the electrolytes, which are minerals, and we need electrolytes for proper hydration and fluid balance in our body. Without electrolytes, we would perish! Who wants that? We do not recommend drinking distilled water unless it is used to prepare infant formula.
What about alkaline water? Well, alkaline water is water that has minerals dissolved into it that raise the pH to a more alkaline level. These minerals are more of those “good-for-you electrolytes” that we just talked about. However, if you water is acidic or too alkaline (aka ‘hard water’), that could be a tad problematic for your teeth, stomach and appliances! We recommend alkaline water with a known pH of 7.1 – 9.5.
And seltzer? There is a huge seltzer trend these days. It’s so appealing on a hot summer day and the flavors add a little glamour to the whole situation.
Seltzer is carbonated water, usually with natural flavorings added. Ava Safir, MS, RDN, says this: “Seltzer is a great alternative to sugary drinks and sodas when you have a taste for a bubbly treat with flavor. Just be careful to limit your intake to 8-12oz daily since carbonated beverages can increase symptoms of GERD and negatively impact your bone and tooth health.” To repeat, we recommend no more than 8-12 oz per day.
What about bottled waters – so sleek and attractive? We are conditioned to think that bottled water is somehow healthier, but .. behold .. it is not! Bottled waters are expensive and harmful to the environment. Plus, drinking water that has been sitting in plastic for several weeks (or even months) is not ideal. We understand that there’s a time and a place and sometimes bottled water is the only option, but don’t be fooled into thinking there’s an additional health benefit. We recommend on an as required/needed basis.
And last but not least, do you want to know what the best water for you is? The old standby. Tap water. Cheap, safe, accessible, contains local minerals, environmentally friendly. It’s hard to beat. If you have a well, be sure to test your water yearly.
Our recommendation: Turn on your faucets and enjoy in superfluity.
The upshot: Drink mostly tap water. Enjoy carbonated, mineral, and bottled water sporadically. Keep at it. Your body will learn to love it!