As humidity and temperatures begin to rise, staying hydrated can be challenging, especially if you spend any length of time outdoors. We lose water every day through our breath, sweat and urine. It is critical for the health of our bodies that we take in enough water each day to prevent dehydration. A dehydrated body cannot function properly, and can leave you feeling lethargic and tired. Many conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, chronic pain, migraines, lack of mental clarity and a weakened immune system can be tied back to dehydration. It is obviously important to drink plenty of water, but understand that the foods you eat can also provide you with water and is an integral part of the hydration process. Lastly, just because something is liquid does not necessarily mean it’s hydrating … but I will get to that in a minute.
A healthy balance consists of approximately 80:20 water to food, meaning 80% of your hydration should come from water, with 20% coming from food. Fruits and vegetables are obviously water-rich sources, with some consisting almost entirely of water (i.e. cucumbers at 97%). Other high water foods are tomatoes, zucchini and celery with 95%, eggplant, cauliflower and watermelon at 92%, and spinach, strawberries and cantaloupe at 90%. Iceberg lettuce, which tends to get a bad rap nutritionally, is almost all water, so during the summer, ditch the tortillas and hamburger buns and you’ve got a low carb, high water wrap all in one 🙂
Grains, beans and pasta are also good sources, because as they cook, they absorb a large amount of water. Although many types of meat will lose about 20-30% of their water while cooking, fish and poultry tend to already be on the higher side, which make them a good and healthy option. In order to retain more water when cooking, bake your meats at a lower temperature instead of frying or grilling.
For those trying to lose weight, incorporating more water-rich foods can help keep you feeling more full, than just drinking water alone. Add in the fiber which is typically found in these high water foods and it’s a win-win all around.
I mentioned earlier that certain foods can actually dehydrate you – can you guess which one tops the list? Yep, alcohol … alcohol is a diuretic, and actually causes the kidneys to secrete more water than they’re supposed to, which is what causes that miserable hangover headache.
Another favorite unfortunately, is that morning cup of joe … coffee is not only a diuretic, but the caffeine itself tends to speed up how quickly water leaves the system, leading to dehydration. Along with coffee are sugary drinks … high sugar can increase water loss by creating an acidic environment, which decreases our body’s ability to store water.
Are you following a high protein diet? If so, it is especially important to consume extra water in order to metabolize the naturally occurring nitrogen found in animal foods.
Last but not least, that trip to the movies can leave you feeling dry and parched … movie theatre popcorn is extremely salty, which causes a water imbalance in the body. When we eat too much salt, our body has to use water to flush the salt out, leaving us dehydrated. Other commonly eaten salty foods are soy sauce, most dairy products, canned foods, fried foods and cured meats.
A healthy person should drink at least 64 ounces of pure water each day, however, you might need to increase this during the summer and when exercising. For every cup of coffee or soda that you drink, replace with 2 cups of water.
Smoothies are a great way to quickly absorb both nutrients and water into your body. Here’s a quick power smoothie that can be used either as a pre or post workout, or even just a meal replacement.
- 1-1/2 cups liquid (water, almond, coconut or other non-dairy liquid of choice)
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1/2 cup frozen berries
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1 cup fresh kale
- 1 Tbsp almond butter
By freezing the bananas and using frozen fruit, you eliminate the need for ice, making it a quick and easy process. You can use any type of fruit so get creative and have some fun!
Stay safe this summer by getting in plenty of fluids. Limit the alcohol, and enjoy those summer fruits and vegetables, most of which will help count towards your much needed fluid intake!