Is Drinking Regular Water the Only Healthy, Thirst-Quenching Way to Hydrate?
Water is, and always will be, the best, healthiest way to quench your thirst, but there are a few other options to try when you are feeling especially depleted—after a few too many glasses of wine or an intense workout, perhaps. Whether you're feeling bored of plain water or are looking to really amp up the hydration, these are the best ways to handle with thirst when H2O isn't cutting it.
Drinks labeled ORS are best for rehydration.
The World Health Organization has a gold standard when it comes to rehydration; anything that has the Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) stamp—which indicates an electrolyte mix of water, sugar, and salt—explains registered dietitian Brooke Alpert, M.S., R.D., C.D.N, is optimal. "This is where I love to nerd out—there is something called the sodium-glucose cotransport mechanism, which is when sodium, potassium, and glucose are properly balanced, as they are in an ORS formula," she says. "This solution helps the body to absorb electrolytes more effectively through osmotic force by pulling water directly into your cells and rehydrating your body three times faster and more effectively than water alone." You can spend hours trying to enhance regular water with foods that provide the very same electrolytes, but drinking ORS-balanced beverages is the most effective way, aside from an IV, to rehydrate, she says. And while water—and water derivatives, like seltzer—really is the easiest, healthiest way to hydrate around the clock, turning to these formulas when you are depleted will help you get back on track.
Coconut water is another option.
Alpert says some of her favorite ORS formulas actually come in powder form (add them to water and drink them down); she recommends the powders from Cure ($22.99, amazon.com), a company that combines coconut water with those much-needed electrolytes. "Cure really is the best—their beverages meet the criteria of thirst-quenching and healthy and, as an ORS, they are scientifically proven to hydrate at a cellular level," she explains. Alpert notes that you can sip on plain coconut water, as well—but pair it with a healthy salty snack, like nuts, to help you hydrate and replace missing sodium, she says.
Avoid soda, energy boosters, and sugary sports drinks.
Believe it or not, there are drinks that fall at the opposite end of the spectrum and can actually cause dehydration. Anyone who has ever imbibed a bit too much at a Friday night happy hour is familiar with this concept, but there are other sips that you may turn to regularly that could be working against your body's hydration levels. "Typically, any beverages with an excess amount of added sugars, dyes, and caffeine should be avoided," Alpert says. This includes soda, energy, or sports drinks—overdoing it on coffee and caffeinated tea can cause issues, too.