Let's face it. Between classes, clubs, and the general time crunch, it isn't always easy to remember to stay hydrated while running the college gauntlet. It is even more difficult if you do not find the taste(lessness) of water particularly appealing. But fear not! Below are 10 simple alternatives to increase your daily H20 intake without having to drink, you know, actual water.
1. Cucumbers (or any fruits, really)
Fruits tend to have high water content. Incorporating more of them into your diet can help you stay hydrated without having to lug a five-pound stainless steel water bottle around campus. They are also full of beneficial mineral electrolytes that can regulate blood acidity, digestion, and keep your body's water balance in check.
You can also give infused water a try. Simply soak a few pieces of fruit in water for a few hours (overnight is easiest), and voila! Instant refresher. Some common favorites are lemon, orange, strawberry, and cucumber, but feel free to experiment.
Some vegetables do, too. Salads are an easy way to add them to your meals.
3. Seltzer and sparkling water
While we are on the topic of flavors, seltzer and sparkling water are increasingly popular alternatives to plain water. The unsweetened kinds are just water with carbonic acid added for the fizz and a bit of flavoring. As beverage companies continue to churn out more and more varieties, the sky is the limit. They are also becoming embraced as a healthier substitute for soda and pop.
While there is some concern about side effects due to the carbonation, it is still better for you than the sugar- and dye-filled sodas commonly found in restaurants and store shelves. At the same time, there are certain conditions for which it may be best to consume this in moderation.
4. Adding caffeine
This does not mean adding shots of Red Bull to your Evian. Instead, try steeping some tea in your water. There are hundreds of types out there, so chances are high that you will find at least one that fits your tastes and your budget. There is also cocoa powder, which can be mixed with cinnamon and hot water for a sweet, vegan-friendly drink in the colder months.
Be warned, though. Too much caffeine can actually lead to dehydration. Caffeine (and alcohol) prevent your body from releasing anti-diuretic hormone. This is the hormone responsible for helping your body absorb water. Without it, you will not be able to hydrate and will instead be left thirstier and more dehydrated than before.
5. Eating whole and hot cereal grains
This includes rice, oatmeal, quinoa, grits, etc. Most of them need to be steamed, boiled, or otherwise cooked before eating, and so will absorb the water. This water-absorption is why they get larger when prepared.
Whole cereals are filling, hearty, and most importantly (for the purposes of this article), hydrating. Hot cereals also have lower glycemic indices than your average piece of bread or pizza, so it's a win-win!
6. Soups and stews
Soups are also another great water-laden addition to your meals. The water grains are cooked in (see above) and are also edible and can be used to make stock or soup.
7. Coconut water
Coconut water is not only a sweet, clean way to stay hydrated, it is also high in potassium and other electrolytes. Athletes tout it as a healthier alternative to sports drinks, which often tend to be high in added sugars and dyes.
Be forewarned, though. It is a tad expensive.
If whole fruits and vegetables are not for you, try turning them into smoothies. Adding coconut or rice milk also gives it a creamy finish, while cinnamon or cardamom can boost the flavor and make it easier to digest.
Try making your own popsicles! You can get molds for cheap at most stores and make your own fruity or floral concoctions to go in them. Add fruits, mint, yogurt, etc. Or Kool-Aid mix. There are no limits.
10. Essential oils and honey
Honey with a drop of essential oil is a quick and easy addition to water that gives it a bit of flavor. Honey is also an energy booster, so if you need a pick-me-up during class, a bottle of honeyed water is a good way to go. Use all of the above in moderation, though! Too much essential oil or honey is not good for you.