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Here's how to drink more water, according to an expert — and gear that might help, starting at $10

Many of us have trouble staying hydrated, especially as we age, but the consequences are no joke.

We know what you're thinking: What do you mean, "How to drink more water"? You just drink more water! We hear you — but if it were that simple, we wouldn't be so dehydrated! It's true: Many Americans don't drink enough water, especially as they age. Up to 28% of older Americans are dehydrated, researchers say. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports that water intake is "significantly lower" in older adults: an average of 36 ounces a day for the 60-plus crowd, compared with 51 ounces for 20- to 39-year-olds and 43 ounces for 40- to 59-year-olds.

Still, Americans may be on track to turn that around. The massive Stanley Quencher Tumbler has become a cultural phenomenon, and people are lugging water bottles around wherever they go.

That's important, given that 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."

person getting water from faucet
Drink up — and if you keep forgetting, check out the handy gear that will keep you hydrated and then some. (Getty)

It can be a little tricky to figure out your exact hydration needs, but the National Academies' Institute of Medicine recommends that men get about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day while women get about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters). Seems like a lot, doesn't it? Worth noting: Those numbers include hydration from other beverages and food — not just chugging straight H2O. (The Mayo Clinic says roughly 20% of our intake will come from food alone.)

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, but even coffee and tea can 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 can make a big difference too. And no, it doesn't have to be a Stanley or something even more massive. "You don’t need a 2-gallon jug to meet your needs," Keatley says. 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 time markers can also help you stay on schedule, Keatley says. "Sometimes it's nice to have a reminder to take a little bit of time and have a beverage." Still, you don't need to go overboard. "There is a point at which you're not benefiting yourself by chugging water," he adds. His recommendation: Set a daily goal and "see how that works for you."

Feeling thirsty? Building new habits will be easier with the practical picks below. And if they're smart-looking and fun, well, all the better.

Stanley's ubiquitous tumbler has a stainless steel interior that keeps drinks at just the right temperature, cold or hot. If you don't want to haul around the famous 40-ouncer, it's available in sizes as small as 14 ounces. 

$45 at Amazon
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$45 at Zappos$45 at REI

If the Stanley's $45 price tag is a little too rich for your blood, consider this similar tumbler from Simple Modern. It's just as well-insulated, and it comes in plenty of fun colors.

$30 at Amazon

Yeti walked so Stanley could run. This former "it cup" brand still has plenty of fans, and the insulated Rambler bottle features a "chug cap" for quick and easy drinking. It also fits in most cup holders. 

$30 at Amazon

Staying on pace to have enough water during your day can be tough. This frosted plastic bottle is BPA-free and features time markers to help keep you on track.

$17 at Amazon

Sometimes you need a little extra push to win the hydration game. This smart water bottle uses sensor technology to track your water intake. It syncs with a hydration tracker app so you can see how well you're meeting your daily goals. Our favorite part? It even glows to remind you to drink up.

$55 at Amazon

The only downside of toting a standard water bottle is that it takes up space you may not have. This foldable "bottle" is crafted from flexible BPA-free plastic and holds up to 23 ounces.

$10 at Amazon

Want to create your own 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 flavors including lemon-lime, acai berry and fruit punch.

$23 at Amazon

Not really a water drinker? This glass pitcher has a special infuser so you can add your favorite flavors. Try strawberries, mint, cucumber or almost anything else you can dream up. (It also makes for a great nonalcoholic beverage option at dinner parties!) Worth noting: It's dishwasher-safe.

$23 at Amazon

Does a smart water bottle seem like overkill? This little light straps onto your water bottle and uses smart detection sensors to remind you to take a gulp at least once an hour. Go with classic black or choose from a range of inspirational and quirky messages such as "Don't be a cactus" and "You got this!"

$25 at Amazon

This Brita pitcher with a built-in filter is massively popular, with more than 43,000 five-star reviews. The BPA-free pitcher holds up to 10 cups of water. It's specially designed to fit on refrigerator shelves and has a locking lid that won't fall off when you pour.

$28 at Amazon
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$28 at Walmart

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