Hydration — maintaining the right level of fluids in your body — is crucial to your health. From digesting your food to recovering from a difficult workout, every major bodily function you have requires you to hydrate properly.
Of course, high-quality H-two-oh is the best way to keep your body functioning at peak performance. But opinions differ about what constitutes “high quality,” and sometimes you just need a little something more, whether it be nutrients or a pleasant taste. Here are three excellent ways to make the most of your liquid intake to help your body thrive.
Water is Water right? Maybe Not
Since time eternal, we humans have relied on clear, crisp water to quench our thirst and power our bodies. Indoor plumbing has made access to clean water so simple that many of us think nothing of drinking water directly from the tap in our homes.
In general, tap water in North America is the cleanest public water around. If you want to take that cleanliness to the next level, purified water is a good bet for you. With filters that remove chemicals from water that comes from any source, you can strip out anything that may be harmful to your health. These filters are especially useful for camping to get rid of microbes in local stream water, and you can use them in your home as an environmentally responsible alternative to bottled water. Remember, though, that purifying means removing all the chemicals, which includes the minerals that are good for you.
To maintain those minerals but improve the way water hydrates your body, you may want to try alkaline water. It contains high levels of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and silica, so some experts claim it is better than tap water for improving your health because it is less acidic than what comes from the sink. It’s particularly helpful if you’re an athlete who might benefit from these nutrients to protect bones and muscle. If you have kidney issues, however, you may have trouble processing the extra nutrients. Speak with your doctor to make sure alkaline water is the right choice for you.
Coconut Water: Nature’s Cure-All
Another natural source of hydration is coconut water. Not to be confused with the white milk of the coconut, the water is thin, distinctively flavorful and, well, watery. Moreover, it has more potassium per serving than four bananas, and studies show it’s better than water at rehydration. It outperforms some sports drinks, too, and has less sugar than many of them.
Coconut water is even popular with locals in the Caribbean as a hangover cure. You can drill a hole directly into a green coconut and insert a straw for this natural recovery drink, or you can pick up a bottle at your local grocery store.
Sports Drinks: Technology Meets Hydration
In the mid 1960s, a Florida football coach consulted with a group of researchers to help find out why his football players were becoming so easily exhausted. They discovered that the football team was becoming depleted of essential electrolytes and carbohydrates when practicing in the heat. They developed a drink to replenish their fluids better and Gatorade was born. Soon other schools caught on and just like that the sports drink industry was born.
Since then, sports drinks have flooded supermarket shelves. They may taste more like Kool-aid than a health drink, but the science behind mineral replacement is solid. Working out for more than hour is a good rule of thumb to gauge when you need to replenish fluids. Unless you’ve sweat like a top-notch athlete, the average sports drink can pack too much sugar and too many calories for you to consider it an ideal alternative to water as your everyday beverage.
Whether you’re looking to recover from a hard workout or just keep your thirst satiated, hydration is key to your overall health. Choose the drink that’s right for your unique needs, and enjoy the natural and science-driven flavors available.