Some people just don’t like the taste of water, especially tap water. The easy solution is changing the water’s flavor, or even adding a physical characteristic such as fizziness, to make it tastier. But are these additives and modifications good for you? Let’s see.
Plain sparkling water has similar benefits to regular water, often called “flat” or “still.” When sugars and other flavorings are added, though, you get seltzer water, club soda and “water beverages,” which can have very different nutritional values.
First, let’s talk about the difference between plain water and sparkling water. The bubbles in sparkling water come from carbon dioxide gas, either naturally produced—usually from mineral springs—or artificially injected just like carbonated soda, pop or whatever it’s called where you live. For the most part, you’re getting the same benefits from sparkling water as you get from regular tap water.
Bottom line with plain carbonated water: If it helps you drink more water, go for it.
“Waters” that aren’t water
Now let’s move on to the water “beverage.” This is where reading labels counts. Many products in this class are little more than cleverly disguised soft drinks. Check the sugar content on these drinks, and don’t be fooled by the “0 calorie” selling feature. Some of these low- and no-calorie drinks contain artificial sweeteners, including sugar alcohols, which can upset some tummies.
How much water do we need?
Water, the essence of life, plays a vital role in the digestive process and helps regulate body temperature, move nutrients into cells and remove waste from cells. Fluid needs are not a one-size-fits-all. In general, most adults need about eight cups (8 oz) per day.1
Parents can model and help children build healthy hydration habits. Children’s fluid needs vary by age. Most 1- to 3-year-olds need about four cups of beverages a day (water or milk), 4- to 8-year-olds need around five cups and older children’s needs are similar to adults.2
These guidelines may need to be adjusted depending on factors such as:
- Activity level: When exercising, be sure to drink before, during and after activity.
- Area climate and temperature: If you live in a hot or humid climate, you’ll need to drink more water to replace what is lost through perspiration.
- Illness: If you’re sick, for example with a cold, you’ll want to drink plenty of fluids to help your body heal and replenish fluids.
- Medications: Many prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines, diuretics, laxatives, and some blood pressure medications, can cause fluid loss.
- Caffeine and alcohol consumption: Alcohol and caffeine cause your kidneys to release more liquid. This means you need to take in more water to replace what is lost when you are drinking beverages with alcohol or caffeine in them.
Tip: Other beverages made with water, like decaffeinated coffee, herbal tea, milk and low-sodium broth—which are primarily water—count toward daily fluid intake goals.
Do’s and don’ts
No matter whether you prefer sparkling or flat water, these handy guidelines can help you stay hydrated:
- Drink beverages that contain water but beware the caffeine culprit. When you’re aiming to stay hydrated, remember that caffeine and alcohol can work against you.
- Consume beverages throughout the day, with each meal, between meals and whenever you feel even a bit thirsty.
- Your urine color can help you determine whether you’re getting enough water; the more you drink, the paler it’s likely to get. Darker-colored urine is a sign of dehydration. It’s common to have bright or tinted urine soon after consuming certain foods or vitamin supplements.3
- If you’re planning to be active—playing tennis, running, cycling, hiking—be sure to plan ahead and pack enough fluids to keep you hydrated.
Keeping an eye on your water intake is one of the best precautions against dehydration or even heat stroke. For other common ailments such as cold, flu, rashes or bug bites, Teladoc can help. Our board-certified physicians are available 24/7 anywhere you are to help diagnose and treat you and your loved ones’ non-emergency conditions. Be sure to download the app and sync your Apple HealthKit or Google Fit account to it.
Important note: If you’re experiencing an emergency, contact 911 or go to your nearest ER or urgent care clinic.
Updated October 5, 2022