Water is the best and healthiest beverage to drink, day and night — especially if it's hot out. Eight ounces of water eight times a day cools your body after exercise, keeps everything working the way it should and even helps you eat less and lose weight (if those are goals for you).

Drink water the right way

But buying bottled water every time you feel thirsty is expensive and bad for the environment — so if you're not going to be somewhere with a water fountain or water cooler, it makes sense to get a reusable water bottle you'll like bringing along!

Here's what you need to know

  • Older plastic bottles aren't a good idea since they may be made from chemicals that are bad for your health — so lose the ones that have been kicking around the house a few years.
  • Make sure new plastic water bottles are labeled "BPA-free" for the same reason. Most of the ones you buy at reputable stores are anyway, but it can't hurt to check.
  • If you're looking for something unique, fun and trendy, some companies are making collapsible plastic water bottles — some fold up like an accordion, while others are like plastic bags that flatten out when nothing is in them.
  • Aluminum and stainless steel are good, green choices (no matter what color you pick!). They keep water cold and their plastic linings are made to be safe.

One important rule for any reusable water bottle — wash it out regularly (and use dishwasher soap!) and let it dry with the cap off so bacteria doesn't have a chance to grow inside.

Drinking water before and during meals

Some people say that drinking a glass of water a half-hour before eating helps you feel full so you won't overeat. That might be a trick that works for you. 

As far as water with meals, some say drinking when you eat makes it harder for your body to digest, while others say it helps slow down eating and makes swallowing easier.

Do you typically drink milk with meals?

It may be a good way to be sure you are taking in important nutrients, including calcium, but make sure that you're drinking the right kind of milk (for most people, non-fat milk is the best choice) and not adding a high caloric load to your meal. 

Thirst-quenching rule of thumb

Think before you drink — if you like to have a beverage with your meal, choose one that enhances your health. And if you prefer to enjoy your beverages between meals, that's a fine choice to make as well.