Your Complete Hydration Guide: What To Drink (And Avoid) For Optimal Health

mbg Contributor By Kristin Dahl
mbg Contributor
Kristin Dahl is a Los Angeles based nutritionist, herbalist, and women’s wellness educator whose teachings emanate from her extensive education in holistic healing, Ayurveda, herbal medicine, plant-based cooking, and functional nutrition.
Your Complete Hydration Guide: What To Drink (And Avoid) For Optimal Health

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Needless to say, water is important. Every cell, tissue, and organ in the body needs it to work efficiently. Water regulates body temperatures, transports nutrients, lubricates the joints, and flushes out toxins and wastes. A mere 5 percent drop in the body's water levels can even cause a 30 percent loss of energy.

In order to stay properly hydrated, aim to drink half your body weight in ounces daily. When you're dehydrated, toxins are reabsorbed by the body, stressing your liver and eventually weakening your immune system.

Dehydrators to avoid

1. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol

Coffee, tea, alcohol, and energy drinks are diuretics that increase urine flow and flush water from the body, eventually leading to dehydration.

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2. Sugary drinks

Drinks with a high sugar content can lead to water loss by creating an acidic environment that can impair enzyme function and decrease your body’s water storage capacity.

3. Salty foods.

Salty foods can lead to a loss of fluids because extra water is needed to get rid of all of the extra sodium. Remember that most processed and packaged foods are especially high in sodium.

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Techniques for better hydration

Now that you know what you shouldn't be drinking, here are some effective ways to stay hydrated throughout the day:

1. Have a water bottle of choice.

Carry a large glass water bottle with you whenever possible, avoiding plastic ones that contain potentially harmful BPA.

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2. Invest in a filter.

While some of us know that drinking enough water is important to our health, the quality of that water is often overlooked. Harmful chemicals, pollutants, heavy metals, and various fertilizers can infiltrate the water treatment process. High chlorine levels in water have also been shown to decrease vitamin E levels in the body and destroy beneficial intestinal flora.

Filtering tap water with a high-quality HEPA filter is incredibly helpful; the EWG's water filter buying guide can help you find the right one for your needs. These days, companies like Mountain Valley also offer monthly deliveries of spring water in more eco-friendly glass bottles.

3. Stock up on produce.

Fruits like watermelon and strawberries are composed of over 90 percent water. Other hydrating fruits include grapefruit, cantaloupe, and peaches. Veggies like cucumbers and lettuce have a water content of 96 percent while vegetables like zucchini, radish, celery, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, and spinach fall just behind.

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4. Add minerals and electrolytes.

Electrolytes play an important role in hydration because they contribute to fluid regulation, muscle contraction, and nerve function in the body. Electrolytes can be naturally found in foods like coconut water and sea vegetables, as they contain high levels of calcium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and sodium. A small pinch of mineral-rich Himalayan salt can also add an electrolyte boost to your water.

5. Sip on soups and broths.

Soup is essentially just seasoned water with some other ingredients thrown in. The canned stuff, however, is often overly seasoned, extremely high in sodium, and loaded with less-than-nutritious ingredients. Try making your own. It's easy to do and allows you to include as many hydrating vegetables as you'd like.

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Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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