It can be a challenge to drink enough water during the day, but what if you could eat your water instead? Foods with high water content can help you meet your daily hydration goals — and they’re yummy, too! Learn more about the importance of hydration and tips on how to stay hydrated.
Why hydration is important
Staying hydrated is essential, especially when it’s hot outside.
“Patients who are dehydrated severely may suffer from heat-related illness such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke,” says Dr. Blake Rudeseal, family medicine specialist practicing at Mission Health Center Franklin. “Sports/work performance will also suffer if the body does not get enough water.”
You might have learned in school that your body is 70% water, but that’s not exactly true. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Water Science School, babies are roughly 78% water when they’re born. That percentage drops to about 65% by their first birthday. An adult male is about 60% water, and an adult female is about 55% water.
Water doesn’t just make up the majority of your body. It also supports several essential functions, such as body temperature regulation and joint lubrication. Water also helps protect your brain and spinal cord by acting as a shock absorber. Water delivers nutrients to cells and helps organs function properly, and it helps flush waste from the body through urination.
Staying hydrated can improve brain performance and cognitive function. It can also help regulate your emotions and fight feelings of anxiety. Proper hydration can even help you lose weight or manage your weight, and prevent health issues. For example, “certain patients experience an increase in the formation of kidney stones when dehydrated,” says Dr. Rudeseal.
To survive and function, an adult male needs to drink about 3 liters (12.7 cups) of water per day. An adult female needs to drink about 2.2 liters (9.3 cups) per day. If you’re dehydrated, you may have symptoms such as:
- Dry mouth
- Excessive thirst
- Dark-colored urine
- Less urine and sweat than usual
- Dry skin
Why it’s critical to stay hydrated during the summer
“Your body’s water absorbs heat, providing a temperature buffer on hot summer days,” Dr. Rudeseal explains. “Water maintains your blood pressure so that your heart can pump oxygen-carrying red blood cells to your body’s organs and muscles. Hydrating well also helps your kidneys to regulate the proper balance of electrolytes (including sodium, potassium, calcium).”
In addition to staying hydrated, Dr. Rudeseal advises patients to “avoid prolonged exposure to the summer sun.” He recommends working and doing other outdoor activities during the cooler hours of the day and in the shade when feasible.”
How to stay hydrated (besides drinking plain water)
Drinking 9 to 12 cups of water per day sounds like a lot, right? But drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated. Dairy, soups and broths also contain water. On the flip side, sugary beverages like soda or artificial fruit drinks have little nutritional value, so it’s best to avoid these. If you’re not a fan of plain water, you can add berries, lime, lemon or cucumber to boost flavor and nutrients. You can also hydrate by eating water-rich foods, particularly fruits and vegetables.
4 recipes high in water content
Dishes that are high in water content are usually simple to make. This is especially beneficial in the summer when it’s not exactly pleasant to stand over a hot stove. These four recipes are refreshing and delicious.
Watermelon and goat cheese salad with citrus vinaigrette
Watermelon has up to 91% water content, making it one of the most hydrating fruits out there. It also contains potassium, which helps maintain fluid balance in the body. This salad recipe also includes hydrating watercress and orange juice.
Gazpacho with grapes, honeydew and cucumber
Gazpacho is a cold soup that’s perfect to eat in the summer. This particular gazpacho recipe includes several water-rich foods: grapes, honeydew melon and cucumber. Grapes are about 81% water, cucumber comes in at around 97% and honeydew is about 90% water. It also has important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C and potassium.
Celery sticks with peanut butter
On its own, celery isn’t very interesting. But it’s high in water content — the stalk is about 95% water. Plus, it’s low in calories and contains several important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin K, folate and potassium. To liven it up, try adding peanut butter for flavor and added protein. Although peanut butter isn’t water-rich, it’s minimally processed and rich in nutrients.
Fruit ice pops
Who doesn’t love an ice pop on a hot day? Not only are they incredibly refreshing, but ice pops are easy to make yourself using your fruit of choice. Try using 1 cup of strawberries, watermelon, pineapple or mango. You can also combine fruits to pack even more of a punch. If you’re trying to cut down on sugar, you can use honey or agave as sweeteners if necessary.
You don’t have to rely on just plain water to stay hydrated during the summer months — or any time of year. Eating your water can help you get the fluids and nutrients you need. Try these recipes today for a refreshing and delicious way to stay hydrated.