Well, this isn't good: A large percentage of Americans don't drink enough water, and dehydration is especially common as people age. In fact, up to 28% of older Americans aren't meeting their hydration needs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that water intake is "significantly lower" in older adults. Dehydration can lead to a range of health issues, registered dietitian Scott Keatley, co-owner of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy, tells Yahoo Life. "Water is the medium in which most of our metabolic processes take place," he says. "We have body systems to protect us from deadly dehydration, but a decrease in body fluid by only 2% decreases athletic performance, cardiovascular function and the body’s ability to regulate temperature."
Luckily, dehydration is easily treatable by getting in more fluids. It can be a little tricky to figure out your exact hydration needs, but the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends aiming for the following goals:
About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
Worth noting: Those recommended numbers include hydration you get from water, other beverages and food.
To make sure you're staying hydrated, Keatley recommends that you "start by having a fair amount of fruits and vegetables, which not only have valuable nutrients but a significant amount of water." Naturally, you'll want to ensure you're drinking plenty of water — and coffee and tea can also help you reach your hydration goals, he says. "If my clients are very active or sweat more than the average person, we discuss increasing intake based on their specific needs," Keatley says.
Doing something as simple as carrying around a water bottle with you (and actually drinking from it throughout the day) can make a big difference, too. Just know this, per Keatley: "You don’t need a two-gallon jug to meet your needs." Instead, he suggests getting a bottle that can hold up to a liter or so of liquid. "Filled up twice, [it] will help you meet your hydration needs for the day and is small enough to be used if you go on long walks or hit the gym," he says.
Bottles with motivational time markers can also help you stay on schedule, Keatley says, adding, "Sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder to take a little bit of time and have a beverage." Keep in mind, though, that you don't need to go overboard with your hydration. "There is a point at which you’re not benefiting yourself by chugging water," Keatley says. His recommendation: Set a daily goal and "see how that works for you."
If you feel like you're not doing your best at hydrating regularly right now, take steps to fix it. Luckily, it's possible to turn dehydration around, and pretty quickly. These items can help ensure you're drinking enough during the day.
The massively popular 18-ounce Yeti Rambler keeps drinks cold for hours, thanks to a double-walled vacuum. It also features a "chug cap" for quick and easy drinking, and it fits in most cupholders. The stainless steel exterior is durable and won't dent in case you accidentally drop it.
Want to create your own delicious sports drink on the go? Amazon's bestselling electrolyte mix is easy to use: Just dump a packet into your water bottle and enjoy. Choose from a slew of delicious flavors, including lemon-lime and acai berry.
Not really a water drinker? This glass pitcher has a special infuser and lid so you can add your favorite flavors to your H2O. Try strawberries and mint, cucumber or almost anything you can dream up. It also makes a great non-alcoholic option at dinner parties. Worth noting: It's dishwasher-safe.
Staying on pace to have enough water during your day can be tough — especially when you're busy. This frosted plastic bottle is BPA-free and features convenient time markers to help keep you on track for optimal hydration during your day.
Want to keep your water bottle handy but don't feel like toting a huge purse? This water bottle holder is made from soft neoprene to insulate your drink. There are also a few zip pockets to hold your essentials. The adjustable and padded strap helps you to get that just-right fit.
The only downside of toting a standard water bottle is that it takes up space you may not have available. This foldable "bottle" is crafted from flexible BPA-free plastic, making it a great choice if your bag tends to get crowded. It holds up to 23 ounces of water, and you can choose from a slew of pretty color combinations.
Sometimes you need a little extra push to get your hydration up to speed. This smart water bottle uses sensor technology to track your water intake. It syncs up to a hydration tracker app so you can see how well you're meeting your daily goals. It even glows to remind you to drink up.
Sure, you could set a reminder to drink water on your phone, but this cute light straps onto your water bottle and uses smart detection sensors to remind you to drink water at least once an hour. Choose from a range of inspirational and quirky messages from "Don't be a cactus" to "You got this!"
This Brita filter is massively popular, with nearly 43,000 perfect reviews. The BPA-free pitcher holds up to 10 cups of water, which can fill three 24-ounce water bottles before needing a refill. It's specially designed to fit on refrigerator shelves and has a locking lid that won't fall off when you pour.
You'll need to work a little harder to stay hydrated during the summer months. Tote extra water bottles to the beach or pool with this insulated bag. It holds up to 10 gallons' worth of gear, so you can fill it with plenty of water bottles. Thick thermal foam ensures your stuff will stay nice and cool until you're ready to drink up.
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