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Did you know that about 20% of our body’s water needs comes from food? Fresh fruits and vegetables are particularly high in water content. That means that emphasizing a diet high in produce not only gives us a good dose of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but it will also help us ensure we are meeting our hydration needs.
A few foods that have an especially high percentage of water include: cucumber, celery, tomato, strawberries, spinach, pineapple, and you guessed it—watermelon. These foods can also help balance out some of the sodium that we get from salty foods, in turn helping to regulate blood pressure.
Importance of hydration
We all probably know that being adequately hydrated is important, but hydration has many important functions, some of which may get overlooked. Here is a list of some of the roles of water in the body:
- carries nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body
- regulates body temperature
- maintains regularity and aids digestion
- improves energy (helps food get converted to energy)
- helps with waste elimination
- improves skin complexion
- keeps joints lubricated
- improves brain function
Being dehydrated puts you at risk for memory, mood, and cognitive impairment. Dehydration can also lead to circulatory and cardiovascular issues, blood pressure dysregulation, and impaired kidney function.
What are my hydration needs?
A simple way to estimate your hydration needs is to half your body weight (in lb) and drink that amount in ounces. So for example, a 150-lb person might need about 75 oz (about 9 cups) of water. Water needs may vary based on things like activity level, the weather, medications you take, and food/beverages you might consume. For example, if you are a very active person who enjoys sweaty workouts, like hot yoga or going for a long run, you will need extra water to replenish what you’ve lost. In the summer months when it’s much hotter outside, your water needs will also go up. Consuming salty foods, or drinks like tea and coffee (diuretics) could also increase your hydration needs—even though (preferably unsweetened versions of) these beverages also contribute to your daily fluid intake.
A favorite rule I have is “water before coffee.” (If you’re not a coffee drinker, you can swap in your morning drink of choice in the saying). I find this helpful because no one would forget to drink their morning cup of Joe, but people do forget to drink water! Starting the day with a big glass of water helps start your day on a good note (plus it makes up for all the water we lose in our sleep).
Try starting your day with a glass of water tomorrow morning, and make a point to include some extra fruits and veggies throughout the day for extra hydration!