If you don’t love the thought of drinking several glasses of water each day, you can increase your hydration levels from the foods you eat.
Most of us know that we’re supposed to drink a certain amount of water each day for our overall health and wellness. Staying hydrated provides many health benefits, including helping us to flush toxins and cushion our joints.
But if you don’t love the thought of drinking several glasses of water each day, you can increase your hydration levels from the foods you eat.
Learn more about the benefits of hydration and how the foods you eat can help you reach your hydration goals.
The Benefits of Hydration
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are a lot of health benefits connected to staying hydrated, including:
- Preventing dehydration which can result in unclear thinking, mood changes, constipation and kidney stones
- Managing your weight
- Keeping a normal body temperature
- Lubricating and cushioning your joints
- Protecting your spinal cord and other tissues
- Getting rid of waste and flushing toxins
- Absorbing nutrients
Hydration is important for all of us, but some people are at greater risk for dehydration, including children, the elderly, people who have underlying conditions such as diabetes or kidney problems, those who take medications that cause them to urinate or sweat more, and people who exercise or work outdoors when it’s hot.
Hydrating Foods to Eat
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is 11.5 cups for women and 15.5 cups for men. Of course, this is a general guideline depending on your lifestyle. For some people, reaching this goal may seem like a burdensome chore, but staying hydrated doesn’t have to be difficult.
While most of our hydration comes from the water we drink, research from the National Library of Medicine estimates that most people in the United States get about 22% of their water intake from the foods they eat.
Many foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, have a high water content and are also rich in other things your body needs like vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. Here is a list of foods with a high water content (more than 80% water, with some up to 99% water) that can help you meet your hydration needs:
- Melons such as watermelon and cantaloupe
- Berries such as strawberries and blueberries
- Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli
- Other vegetables such as celery, cucumber, tomatoes, squash and carrots
- Other fruits including grapefruit, peaches, oranges, apples, pears, pineapple and grapes
Tips for Getting More Water
Drinking a glass of water when you’re thirsty is the easiest way to hydrate yourself, but you can also add low-calorie drinks and hydrating foods to help you reach your goals. Here are some suggestions:
- Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables in every meal.
- At breakfast, add banana slices or berries to your cereal or oatmeal. Or add some leafy greens or tomato slices to your omelet or on top of your toast.
- At lunch, eat orange or pear slices in cottage cheese, add lettuce and tomato to your sandwich, put fruit on top of your yogurt, or eat some carrots or celery with hummus or dip.
- At dinner, fill half of your plate with vegetables, add a spinach salad or eat some grapes or berries for dessert.
- Simple Ways to Eat More Plants has some more great tips for how to add more fruits and veggies to your daily diet.
- Smoothies are another way to add fruits and veggies to your diet. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a few healthy smoothie recipes for you to try.
- Add low-sugar and low-calorie drink alternatives to your diet. If you’re looking for a drink other than plain water, you can get additional hydration from fat-free milk or 100% fruit or vegetable juices.
- Incorporate soup into your dinner rotation. Soup broth is a great way to get some additional hydration, and it’s easy to add extra vegetables to it.
- Avoid habits that can lead to dehydration. Overconsuming alcohol or caffeine can prevent your body from absorbing water. In addition, highly processed foods, such as fast food and potato chips; very sugary foods like candy bars and cakes; and foods high in sodium such as ham and bacon can all contribute to dehydration.
- Add some flavor to your water. When you’re craving flavor, add some to your glass of water. Maybe a cucumber slice, a few berries or a mint leaf. You could also add a splash of fruit juice. VA offers 10 different flavor-infused water ideas to help you mix things up.
Reaching your water goals is easier than you think. Incorporating hydrating foods can give you the extra boost of water you need!