As we head into the hottest part of summer here in Southwest Florida, I’ve been thinking a lot about staying hydrated.
I’m not talking about the 15-minute hydration that happens every afternoon around 4:00 if you happen to be standing outside. I mean the act of intentionally putting water into your body, usually through the mouth.
Like the planet you live on, at least 70% of your body mass is composed of water (for some organs, most notably your brain, the water percentage is much higher), so staying hydrated is crucial to maintaining optimal health. I’ve got more information about it here, and here.
Dehydration Can Be Deadly
Consider the list of symptoms that accompany even mild dehydration:
- Dry mouth
- Dry, itchy skin
- Poor concentration, memory loss
- Decreased urine output
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle spasms/cramps
- Higher susceptibility to viruses
- Higher susceptibility to muscle strains/tears
- Weight gain
That’s just a basic list of symptoms for not getting enough water. If you want to get down to the cellular level, or talking about your lymph nodes, the list is much longer. Makes you want to grab a glass of water right now, doesn’t it?
The best way to tell if you are dehydrated is that you feel thirsty. Thirst is your body’s first-line warning signal that you are already moving down the slippery slope of dehydration.
And You STILL Don’t Drink Water?
Now, having said that, you would think that people would be chugging water all day long. And yet, somehow, even some of my long-term patients tell me (when I’m harping on them about drinking water) that they don’t drink as much water as they should because they don’t like the taste of water (or worse yet, they don’t like to spend money on good water).
While I won’t raise the white flag on urging you to drink more water, I’m willing to make some concessions. I’m going to keep my good rule of thumb that, for every pound you weigh, you should drink one-half-ounce (1/2 oz) of clean drinking water. But, I will give you a list of foods that, in addition to being amazingly delicious and nutritious, are loaded with water.
Foods For Hydration
Obvious, right? Watermelon tastes great on a hot summer day and contains a balance of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium, all of which are crucial for digestion and maintaining your vital organs.
Cantaloupe is a great counterpart to watermelon in a fruit salad. In fact, if you follow proper food combination rules, melons should never be combined with other fruits, but they can all be combined with each other. Colorful, flavorful, and waterful!
Zucchini and Cucumber
At over 95 percent water by weight, these salad staples are a great way to keep cool as a…cucumber. They are also high in folate (great for the brain), and Vitamins A and C. And if you get a sunburn, rub a little cucumber on it to reduce swelling and irritation.
Mixed Greens – romaine, kale, spinach, and spring greens
While iceberg lettuce is higher in water content, it’s just garbage compared to romaine, spinach, spring greens, and kale. These dark leafy greens are basically superfoods, they are great for cleaning out your digestive tract, they’re high in A, C, D, and B-complex vitamins, and loaded with calcium, protein, beta-carotene, magnesium… the list goes on and on.
Pears and Apples
High in fiber, high in flavor, pears and apples and just what the doctor ordered for fresh, fruity hydration options. Put them in a fruit salad with some mango and red seedless grapes for maximum hydration!
These tiny, power-packed superfoods are linked to preventing cancer, improving memory and brain function, strengthening eyesight, and even benefitting your heart, but they are also a great source of water in a pinch. Another addition to an amazing fruit salad.
Strawberries and Raspberries
Strawberries are great for your heart, brain, and skin, full of antioxidants, and super refreshing.
The key benefit of pineapple is that they are a great source of bromelain, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory, but they are also high in water.
Oranges are a great source of Vitamin C…and water.
I eat celery because it is like a push-broom for your arteries, lowering blood pressure, lowering inflammation, lowering cholesterol, flushing out your liver, and a list of other benefits. It’s also very high in water.
And, then there’s…
I mention tomatoes, eggplant, and bell peppers here, because they are high in water content, but they are also part of a category of vegetables we call “nightshades,” which are toxic to many body types, so I don’t encourage them.
>>>>Bonus points if you pull out your blender combine these into fun and creative smoothies.
Lots of Good Choices For Summer
Staying healthy through the summer requires hydration, especially in hot climates like Southwest Florida, but hydration doesn’t have to be boring. You can have the most delightful, tasty summer and keep your cool. In fact, with this list I just gave you, you could literally give your oven the summer off and just nourish yourself with awesome salads. Add some black beans or some tasty grilled salmon to mix it up.
If you have questions about specific foods, post them on Facebook and contribute to the discussion. Oh, and while you’re there, take a few seconds to share this article on your favorite social media channel. You might be surprised at who of your warm-weather friends are looking for a better way to keep cool this summer.
“At the end of your FEELINGS is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas