By Taryn Tacher

You’ve been hearing it your whole life — you should be drinking eight cups of water per day. But, is this actually true? We all have different body compositions, so how could our necessary water intake be universal?

It isn’t. The amount of water you should drink daily directly correlates with your activity level, your weight and even the climate you live in. But, since there isn’t a definitive way to calculate your specific water needs based on these factors, the eight-cup rule holds strong.

“There are various circumstances in which a person would need more water,” registered dietitian/licensed nutritionist Julie Rothenberg said. “When you exercise, you lose water and need to drink more to compensate. Hot environments also promote more body fluid loss; the same goes for if you have a fever.”

If you aren’t drinking enough water, you may experience dry mouth, fatigue, headaches, lightheadedness and darker than usual urine. In extreme cases, dehydration can even cause low blood pressure, quickening heart rate and fever.

“I always recommend having a cup of water as soon as you wake up,” said Rothenberg. “There is something extremely refreshing about a glass of water first thing in the morning, and it also cleanses your body of overnight toxins.”

Clearly, drinking water is crucial. So, if the flavorless fluid bores your taste buds, try jazzing up your water with fruits, vegetables and even herbs. The additions will make hydration a little bit sweeter and, in some cases, even more healthy.

RECIPES TO FLAVOR YOUR WATER

Add lemon, lime or orange slices to your water for a tangy note. The citrus will also provide you with vitamin C.

Add strawberries and basil to your water for a fruity yet earthy flavor. Strawberries have antioxidants, and basil has vitamin K and calcium, among a laundry list of other nutrients.

Add cucumber and mint to your drink for that refreshing at-the-spa feel. Cucumbers help flush out the body’s toxins, and they’re a great source of vitamin B. The mint will cleanse your palate and aid in digestion.

Add raspberries and blackberries for that tart, berry taste. Raspberries are a good source of fiber, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids, and blackberries are full of antioxidants and vitamin C.

Add pineapple and jalapeño to your water for a tropical drink with a bit of a kick. Both are rich in vitamin C, and jalapeño has capsaicin, which is an anti-inflammatory.

WHAT TO AVOID

Try to stay away from adding sugar to your water. Though it will sweeten up your beverage, it can also provide you with unnecessary calories.

Steer clear of water enhancers like Crystal Light, MiO and Dasani Drops. These products are full of ingredients (like thickening agents) that we shouldn’t be ingesting.