07/23/2024

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What does it mean to be hydrated? In general, your hydration status is the percentage of your body made up of water, usually about 60 percent, says Phillip Kadaj, M.D., M.P.H., FACP, an internal medicine physician at MyMichigan Internal Medicine. Every day, we need to replace the water we lose through sweating, urination, and even breathing. According to Dr. Kadaj, aiming to drink about 64 ounces of water per day is a good general hydration guideline – however, this number may vary from person to person, depending on how active you are, your body type or the climate you live in.

We all know that staying hydrated leads to an active, healthy life – dehydration is a surefire way to trigger headaches, cravings and fatigue – but in reality, consuming those ounces of H2O can feel like an uphill battle. No small problem: Many people think plain water can get boring, making it a less interesting beverage choice at mealtimes and throughout the day.

The good news? Hydration can be delicious – and (dare we say it?) even fun! There are tons of super hydrating, delicious beverages that can provide some much-needed variety, quench your thirst, and help you achieve your daily hydration goals. Read on for the registered dietitian’s most recommended hydration drinks for when you need a healthy upgrade to that glass of pure water.

Related: Hydration is essential, but can you drink too much water?

Green Smoothies
Blend your favorite veggies into a naturally hydrating smoothie – the perfect post-workout breakfast or mid-afternoon pick-me-up, packed with nutrients. First, Amanda Sauceda, M.D., M.P.H., suggests gathering spinach, kale and lettuce, all of which are high in water. Then, add your favorite milk – milk, almonds, cashews or oats are great – and top with a scoop of protein powder and/or nut butter for a nutritional boost. You’ll get a powerful dose or two of hydration and protein in one cup.


Watermelon Juice
Aptly named, watermelon is a very hydrating food, containing 92 percent water, says Tara Tomaino, director of nutrition at The Park. You can always eat watermelon as is, but for a fruity summer treat, blend watermelon with ice, water and lime juice to make a cold, homemade smoothie – no sugar needed. (Omit alcohol and sugar from this recipe here for hydration at any time of the day). “Watermelon is also a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant found in red fruits and vegetables, and studies have linked lycopene consumption to lower blood pressure as well as other health benefits,” adds Tomaino.


Coconut Water
Whether you buy a liter at the grocery store or fresh at the beach, coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and manganese, says Hayley Miller, senior registered dietitian nutritionist at Persona. . We all need to replenish these electrolytes regularly, especially after any excessive fluid loss (severe sweating, Saturday night dehydration, etc.). “When you exercise or just go about your daily life, you naturally lose electrolytes in your sweat, making it harder for your body to stay hydrated,” she explains. “Coconut can help replace these and restore a good balance.”

But be careful to read labels and choose coconut water, as many supermarket brands add flavor with added sugar. Miller says high-sugar coconut water can actually have the opposite effect and dehydrate you. Be sure to read your labels carefully.

Try adding coconut water to this anti-inflammatory mango-turmeric smoothie for a healthy dose of hydration.


Agua Fresca
Looking for a better-for-you alternative to those (sadly) very dehydrating cocktails? Sauceda says make happy hour happily hydrating with the agua fresca, a drink popular in Mexico and Central America that simply mixes fruit and water, sometimes with sweeteners (like sugar, agave or honey). Stir in your favorite fruit, some water and some fresh lime juice for extra brightness. “You can even add a little fiber or sweeten with honey by sprinkling on chia seeds, a prebiotic food that can even make this drink good for your gut,” she adds.


Cucumber Juice
Cucumbers are another hydration powerhouse, containing up to 96% water, the highest water content of any food! You can slice this vegetable thinly for serving and infusing, mix it with water or press it into juice for a pick-me-up. “A vegetable that’s more hydrating than a regular glass of water is perfect for snacking,” says Kristel de Groot, a certified plant-based health coach and co-founder of Your Super.


Bone broth
When you came home from school as a child, did your parents pour you chicken soup, miso soup or any type of soup? When we get sick, we often become severely dehydrated, and bone broth can replenish the water our bodies need to help us feel better, explains Eduardo Dolhun, M.D., a practicing family physician in San Francisco and founder of DripDrop. “Broth stocks are typically high in sodium while also providing a good base of hydration through water, making them a good choice,” says Dr. Dolhun.


Skim Milk
You read that right: a glass of milk can do wonders for hydration. The carbohydrate, protein and electrolyte content of milk is particularly effective for post-workout hydration, Tomaino explains. “When the goal is to replenish and recover after a workout, milk provides fluids and nutrients that help with muscle recovery,” she says. “Choose plain, nonfat (skim) milk to keep the sugar content low.” Chocolate milk is also a good choice if you’ve had a particularly long training session or spent a lot of time in the hot sun – be careful not to overdo it, as chocolate milk does contain more sugar than regular milk.


Tea (or Iced Tea)
You won’t be surprised to learn that hot and iced tea is an excellent moisturizer – tea is a water-based beverage, after all!


Homemade Yogurt Popsicles
Okay, so this isn’t technically a drink, but it’s too delicious to not be on the list. On a hot summer day, you may find yourself craving something cool and sweet. Instead of shaking sugary cocktails or running to the ice cream truck, Sauceda suggests making your own yogurt popsicles. Yogurt is a great source of probiotics and high hydration, so this secret healthy snack boasts gut health, hydration and even some protein.


Electrolyte Blend
Instead of opting for a sugary electrolyte drink that’s loaded with calories and doesn’t provide enough hydration, consider a powdered option. Add a packet or tablet to cold water (or coconut water), allow it to dissolve, and drink. Tomaino explains that many of these blends contain a combination of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, as well as other nutrients to help promote water entering the bloodstream faster than water alone.

“When purchasing such products, check the ingredient list for the natural form of sugar and be sure to follow the instructions for mixing with water to get the most effective ratio of electrolytes to water,” she says.

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