Staying hydrated is essential to your health. As we move throughout our day, we’re constantly losing water from breathing, sweating, moving, and the other processes happening in our bodies. The higher intensity our movement or the temperature is, the more water we lose. We can only get water from drinking water and eating foods.
As the weather heats up this time of year, hydration is even more important. You’re losing water faster to keep your core temperature cool and putting yourself at a greater risk to become dehydrated. Dehydration can, in it’s early stages feel like fatigue or headaches, and in it’s more mature stages can look like shock, not urinating, very dry skin, or dizziness.
How Much Water You Should Drink
When it comes down to how much water you should drink, there is an easy calculation to get a good starting point for how much you should drinking. Take your body weight and divide that in half. That number, in ounces, is a starting point for what you should be drinking per day. If you’re more active, you’re under the weather, you regularly drink coffee, tea, or other diuretics, or it’s warmer outside, you should be drinking more.
In addition to what you’re drinking, you can also stay hydrated by eating foods that are high in water content. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that are in season in hotter months for you enjoy.
Hydrating Foods to Eat
These twelve fruits and vegetables are all over 90% percent water and perfect to add to your diet to get extra hydration.
Cucumber: One of the more hydrating vegetables at 96% water, cucumbers are perfect for eating your water. Raw cucumbers are great diced in a cooling tzatziki dip, thinly slicing into strips and wrapping other veggies in, sliced into coins and as a vehicle for dip or tossed over a salad.
Radish: Right below cucumbers with 95% water are radishes. Radishes are a crunchy, peppery addition to salads, slaws and even thinly sliced with your avocado toast. There are also a lot of radish varieties out there, so keep a look out at your farmers markets for the wide variety that could be available in your area.
Celery: Also at 95% water content, raw celery is another easy way to get your water in. Chopped celery adds a great crunch to salads, of the vegetable and egg variety, as well as in slaws. Celery’s shape, as we all know, is great for filling with dips, nut butters, and other spreads, as well as being used on a crudite platter with a healthy dip. If you can’t stand the stringiness that can happen when you bite into a stick of celery, consider peeling them with a vegetable peeler.
Zucchini: The vegetable of the summer, zucchini is also 95% water and so easy to enjoy raw. With a spiralizer, vegetable peeler, or mandoline, you can make zucchini noodles (also known as zoodles) that can stand in for grain-based pastas. You can lightly saute the noodles or enjoy them raw and get a nice crunch. Similar to cucumbers, you can also slice them into strips and use them as a wrap for vegetables, caprese salad or a seaweed replacement for sushi rolls. Zucchinis are also great for dips and salads.
Tomatoes: Another heavy hitter in the summer, tomatoes are a great way to stay hydrated in warmer months, with a 94% water content. Diced tomatoes are a perfect topping for tacos, salads, inside burritos, and by themselves in a salsa.
Adding slices of tomatoes to toast, sandwiches and wraps are another way to add hydration to your meal, as well as just a salad of raw slices. Gazpacho, a chilled, raw soup of pureed tomatoes and other hydrating vegetables, is a great way to drink your vegetables. Smaller cherry tomatoes are great for dipping or as a fun snack.
Cabbage: With more picnics and potlucks in hot months, cabbage is an ideal food to stay hydrated. At 93% water content, your coleslaw is doing more than tasting great with your grilled food of choice. Take full advantage of both green and purple cabbage in your slaws, salads, wraps and rolls this summer.
Watermelon: When the image of hot weather comes up, usually the idea of a juicy watermelon follows, and for good reason. At 92% water, watermelons are a sweet way to keep your hydration up. In addition to the classic slices, you can cube watermelon and add it to drinks or blend it up into a slushie or smoothie. Watermelon works well in salads, finger foods paired with fresh herbs and cheese or fruit, or as a sweet salsa. You can also blend watermelon into a gazpacho similar to tomatoes.
Cauliflower: Not none of the most obviously hydrating foods, cauliflower is surprisingly high with 92% water. Cauliflower is great raw as a dipping vegetable and pulsed up in a food processor as cauliflower rice. Cauliflower rice is also great to add into smoothies to give it an extra boost of vitamin C, K, folate, and fiber.
Depending on where you live, you could also have access to colorful varieties of cauliflower (orange, green, or purple). Rotating the colors can add in additional phytonutrients.
Strawberries: Much like watermelon, strawberries are synonymous with hot weather. Another food with 92% water content, strawberries are great by themselves, dipped in nut butters or dark chocolate. Dice them up to toss into salads or create a sweet salsa. Blend them into smoothies for a little extra sweetness. Strawberries are a great garnish on any sweet treat, like chia pudding, ice cream, or coconut milk mousse. Strawberries are another thin skinned food to go organic or non-spray with.
Peppers: Hotter months bring a wide variety of peppers that are very hydrating with 92% water. Bell peppers, jalapenos, sweet peppers, anaheim and fresno chiles… all are great to make into garnishes and salsas. The more mild peppers are great for stuffing with other vegetables or grains and baking, as well as cutting raw to enjoy with dips.
Spinach: Crunching into a big forkful of fresh spinach is always refreshing, so it’s not surprising that spinach is 92% water. Enjoying a fresh spinach salad with some other hydrating veggies would be a great way to stay hydrated. Spinach is great in smoothies, soups, in dips, and added to so many dishes. Watch out for overcooking your spinach, a lot of the water can be released when you sauté or cook spinach for too long.
Broccoli: Another entry in the not the most obvious vegetable to hydrating, broccoli clocks in at 91% water. Broccoli is a classic option on the raw veggie platter, as well as quickly steamed as a side or mixed with other vegetables or in a salad. Broccoli is a great addition in soups, quiches, casseroles, and lasagnas. It can also be great for making grain-free pizza crusts or potato-free tots.
If possible, try enjoying most of these fruits and vegetables raw and cooked, since some water can be released in cooking. And always be on the lookout for organic or non-spray fruits and vegetables. The thinner skinned they are, the more likely they absorb higher amounts of pesticides.
In addition to keeping track of the amount of water you drink, try to incorporate at least one of these foods into your meals throughout the day. Most of these foods are in their peak seasons around warmer months, so they’ll be easy to find and enjoy. Start small and add in one fruit or vegetable per week until you feel more confident, or plan your weekly menu around dishes that feature those fruits and vegetables. Make stay hydrated a delicious goal during these warmer months.
Aimée Suen is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who shares nourishing, gluten-free recipes and nutrition wisdom at Small Eats. She is driven to help others enjoy whole foods and empower them to find their own healthy in all aspects of life, one small step at a time. When she’s not in the kitchen, she’s practicing yoga, in the gym, or learning something new. You can find Aimée on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
Second Photo Credit: Brent Hofacker/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Kyselova Inna/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: Tim UR/shutterstock.com; Fifth Photo Credit: mama_mia/shutterstock.com