Tap or bottled; flavored or plain; carbonated or filtered. There are lots of choices when it comes to water, but somehow, it’s still hard to get enough.
“Most people don’t drink enough water, period,” said Laura Stout, a registered dietitian nutritionist with UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. “But studies show a range of benefits from drinking water, such as more youthful skin, better GI function and possibly weight loss.”
So grab a glass of your water of choice and check out Stout’s recommendations below for staying hydrated.
Water at its source
Tap water is always a good option. It’s regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, which means it is treated and tested to ensure it’s free from harmful substances. “Our drinking water in Steamboat is really safe to drink,” Stout said.
Well water is also a good choice, as long as it is regularly tested for bacteria and other harmful substances.
Filtered water can be the way to go for people who don’t like the taste of chlorine or other chemicals. Install a water filtration system, use a filtering water pitcher or purchase filtered water at the store. Just be sure to brush your teeth with toothpaste containing fluoride, as the filtering process also removes the enamel-strengthening compound.
Bottled water, however, is not Stout’s favorite. “A lot of times, you’re paying extra for regular old tap water that’s bottled,” Stout said. “And unsafe chemicals from the plastic can leach into the water.”
Naturally flavored waters have the added benefit of tasting good, which is a plus when it comes to hydration.
“Many people don’t get the hydration they need unless they have a flavored water,” Stout said.
Always read food labels to make sure you’re avoiding artificial sweeteners, flavors and added sodium.
Adding fresh fruits or veggies to water is also popular. While some people attribute benefits such as better digestion and a more balanced pH to the fruit that’s added to the water, Stout suggests otherwise.
“It’s probably not so much that you’re adding fruit or lemon, but that you’re just drinking the water,” Stout said. “You don’t need all of these fancy added fruits, but if it helps you drink water, I think it’s a good idea.”
Stout supports drinking La Croix or other carbonated waters, especially if they help you meet your hydration quota. Just keep in mind that water is always the best option.
Avoid club sodas, which have added salts. And be aware that carbonation in water is acidic which can erode the enamel on your teeth.
“The carbonation can promote enamel erosion if you drink it in excess,” Stout said. “Rinse your mouth with regular tap water after drinking a carbonated water and before brushing your teeth, so you don’t hurt the enamel.”
Drink a half to one ounce of water per pound of body weight every day. Aim for the higher amount if it’s summer or you’re exercising. And begin each day with a big glass of water.
“Your body is really thirsty when you wake up,” Stout said. “It’s been doing a lot of detoxifying during the night, and it’s nice to get that hydration started.”
Since caffeine and alcohol dehydrate the body, they don’t count towards your daily fluids quota. And when it comes to sweet drinks, Stout recommends finding a healthier replacement.
“So many of us end up drinking empty calories,” Stout said. “But really what our body needs is water.”
This article first appeared in the March 5, 2018 edition of the Steamboat Pilot & Today.