Dehydration may not seem like a serious medical issue, yet when you realize that our bodies are made of 60 to 70 percent water, it puts the necessity for adequate water intake into a bit more perspective.
Water not only makes up most of our bodies, but it also keeps a majority of our crucial systems running smoothly. This includes a myriad of bodily functions such as removing waste from our blood, keeping blood vessels open so that “important nutrients can travel freely to our kidneys,” regulating body temperature, helping your brain function, aiding digestion, and water even boosts our immune system.
No matter how important water is for our bodies, at one point or another we all find ourselves not drinking enough or consuming enough water-rich foods. It’s also guaranteed that we will all experience dehydration multiple times throughout our lives. This is especially true during hot weather, physical activity, or sickness.
Luckily, if you find yourself suddenly dehydrated and you want to take some immediate action, there are a handful of ways to start replenishing your body! First and foremost, just drink some water. With that said, there are a handful of plant-based foods that can act fast and help remedy dehydration before it worsens.
Identifying When You’re Dehydrated
Dehydration is a medical condition that occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. While dehydration can be a symptom of another condition — such as infections or sickness — it can also crop up almost out of nowhere — think of hot summer days when you forget to drink water and begin feeling super lousy!
If you know what to look for symptom-wise, then you can catch dehydration before it becomes a serious concern and takes immediate action!
What Causes Dehydration?
While you can get dehydrated simply from not drinking enough water, there are lots of factors that play into the severity of your dehydration. Depending on your cofactors, dehydration can either be remedied at home or may land you in the hospital.
First and foremost, sweating.
Sweating is an instinctual cooling process for your body — your sweat glands “activate to release moisture from your body” and then evaporates. What most people don’t know is that each drop of sweat “takes a small amount of heat with it” and therefore “the more sweat you produce, the more evaporation there is, and the more you’re cooled off.” Our bodies are pretty nifty! On the other hand, excessive sweating, referred to as hyperhidrosis, “can cause dehydration since you lose a large amount of water,” especially if you’re not drinking enough water.
The second and probably most common reason for dehydration is an illness.
Not every illness leads to dehydration. Specifically, be wary of any illness that causes “continuous vomiting or diarrhea.” When you vomit or have excess diarrhea, you also expel large amounts of water. On top of that, you’re also losing electrolytes, which are “minerals used by the body to control the muscles, blood chemistry, and organ processes.” While electrolytes live within blood and urine, they are also found within other fluids of the body that are lost during illnesses.
On top of that, illnesses are generally accompanied by a fever, which is part of the body’s immune response to help fight off the foreign invader. When you have a fever, “your body loses fluid through your skin’s surface in an attempt to lower your temperature,” while also causing increased sweating.
Lastly, the most uncommon reason for dehydration is urination — the “body’s normal way to release toxins.”
Dehydration caused by urination means there is generally another factor involved. For instance, there are some conditions that “can cause chemical imbalances, which can increase your urine output.” If you don’t replace the lost fluids rapidly enough, you can become dehydrated. Therefore, if you find yourself excessively urinating, you need to see a healthcare professional!
When it comes to identifying the symptoms, most of them are pretty easy to spot!
The most noticeable physical symptoms of mild dehydration include the obvious — such as increased thirst, dry mouth, and decreased urination — and the not so obvious — such as fatigue, lightheadedness, headaches, constipation, dizziness, and fatigue. Then there are the not obvious symptoms such as increased dry skin and even less tear production.
At this point, you need to focus on getting fluids into your body via water and water-heavy foods!
If you’ve passed that marker between mild and severe, there are a host of other physical symptoms to look out for, including excessive thirst (not to be confused with increased thirst), lack of sweat production, dark urine, shriveled skin, and sunken eyes. It’s also important to keep tabs on the not-so-obvious symptoms such as rapid heart rate and breathing and low blood pressure.
At this point, no matter your age, you need to go to the hospital!
Health Risks of Dehydration
Now you know how to tell when you’re dehydrated, but why does it matter that much? In fact, why are people hospitalized from dehydration?
First off, what does water do for our bodies?
Water helps create saliva (essential for digestion), regulates body temperature, provides cushioning and protection for your spinal cord, joints, and tissues, boosts energy, maximizes your physical performance, improves blood oxygen circulation, improves your mood, aids in the excretion of waste, and keeps your immune system healthy.
While you probably were aware of most of these, many people don’t realize how important water is for the immune system. How does water keep your immune system up and running? Water is a key player in the absorption of “important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from your food, which will increase your chances of staying healthy.” When you drink enough water, your immune system is healthier and therefore has been shown to “help prevent certain medical conditions” such as constipation, kidney stones, exercise-induced asthma, urinary tract infections, and hypertension.
When you don’t get enough water, it leads to negative health effects. Simply put, the body will simply begin to fail, ultimately leading to severe health issues that require hospitalization, including heatstroke, kidney failure, and coma.
Top 10 Foods to Immediately Remedy Dehydration
When it comes to remedying dehydration, it’s all about the severity. If you’re already experiencing some of the more advanced symptoms mentioned above, then the most important thing to do is contact your doctor for guidance. With that said, if you’re still only experiencing mild dehydration, then there’s time for you to attempt some at-home remedies! Plant-based foods are oftentimes rich in water, as well as nutrients that can help combat those symptoms. Here are 10 plant-based foods that are super rich in water and yet still nutritious!
Not a surprising way to start a water-rich food list!
Cucumbers offer up a whopping 95 percent water content. They’re also super rich in “anti-inflammatory compounds that help remove waste from the body and reduce skin irritation.” While cucumbers don’t have the most impressive nutrition profile, they are a great source of vitamin A and folate and also offer small doses of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and potassium.
When it comes to including cucumbers in your diet is super easy! Create a super green smoothie or juice, — Hydrating Super Green Smoothie or Alkaline Green Juice — add to your favorite salad, — Three-Bean Salad, Cucumber Tomato Salad With Creamy Garlic Dressing, or Meditteranean Lentil Salad — create a fresh soup, — Basil Cucumber Gazpacho — or simply add them to your favorite easy roll — Korean White Radish Wraps or Summer Daikon Rolls With Avocado and Micro Greens.
Another not-so-surprising food to make the hydrating foods list!
While celery is generally a love it or hate it type of veggie, it’s super easy to sneak it into your diet, even if you’re on the “hate it” end of the spectrum. Turn it into a juice or smoothie concoction, such as this Immune Boosting Lemon and Greens Juice, this Celery Sunshine, or this Magic Celery Juice for Beginners. Add it to your favorite soup as a thickening agent, such as this Cleansing Green Soup, this Coconut Tomato Curry, or this One Pot Lentil Stew. Otherwise, you can load this super neutral-flavored veggie into a flavorful recipe such as this Tempeh and Lentil “Meat” Loaf.
Iceberg lettuce gets a pretty bad rap in the health world, mostly because it’s not exactly filled with nutrients, and it’s mostly water.
Of course, that’s what makes it perfect for this list!
Same as celery and cucumber, iceberg lettuce contains 95 percent water. Iceberg lettuce isn’t completely void of nutrients, though. It’s got a decent amount of vitamin A and K, as well as a little bit of vitamin C and folate. It’s also rich in potassium! With that said, if you’re looking for a bit more bang for your buck nutrients-wise, maybe swap out the iceberg for spinach, which has about 91 percent water content.
Iceberg lettuce can be used in pretty much any salad, such as this Iceberg Wedge Salad With Shiitake Bacon or this Green Keto Salad. With that said, iceberg lettuce has a great strong structure, making it a great substitute for those lettuce wraps such as these Lettuce Wraps.
Zucchini is not only a super useful plant-based ingredient, but it’s also a rich source of water with a 95 percent water content.
On top of that, zucchini is loaded with antioxidants, including “beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.” Zucchini is also a great source of vitamins A, C, K, and folate, and is also packed with calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and sodium.
A creative way to infuse your diet with zucchini is by spiralizing this wonderful squash, such as this Artichoke Pesto Zucchini Noodles or this Zucchini Spaghetti With Tomato Cream Sauce. Other ways to enjoy zucchini range from frying — such as these Cornmeal Zucchini Fritters — to tossing in a salad — such as this Seeds and Greens Kaniwa Salad — or even emulsifying — such as this Fruitless Chocolate Zucchini Smoothie Bowl.
You’ve gotta know this one is rife with water. The moment you bite into a slice of watermelon, the front of your shirt is covered in the slightly red-tinged juice!
Watermelon contains 91 percent of water content. It’s also “abundant [in] lycopene, which can help protect cells from sun damage and improve your complexion.” Watermelon is also a great source of vitamins A and C, and you’ll get a small dose of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous.
As this fruit is sweet and juicy, you’ll want to pick and choose how to use it in the kitchen. For instance, it’s a great addition to tarter recipes, such as this Watermelon Quinoa Kale Salad or this Sweet and Spicy Watermelon Curry. It’s also great for creating sweet treat concoctions, such as this Boozy Watermelon Hibiscus Refresher or this Roasted Strawberry and Watermelon Sorbet. Of course, if you’re looking for a creative outlet, try this Mind-Blowing Watermelon Sushi or these Fresh Fruit Lemonade Pops.
Strawberries are not only a tasty, antioxidant-rich treat, but they’re also 91 percent water!
When it comes to strawberries, you can’t do much better in the berry department. They’re not only rich in flavonoids — “compounds associated with improved cognitive function” — but strawberries are a rich source of vitamin A, C, K, and folate. On top of that, you’ll get a healthy dose of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium.
As these delightful little sweets are lower on the glycemic index than other fruits, feel free to use them to naturally sweeten up your favorite desserts and baked goods, such as this Strawberry Vanilla Crumble, this 4-Ingredient Strawberry Icecream, or these Strawberry Sweet Biscuits. For a more hydrating effect, double up your strawberries with a liquid such as in this Good Morning Beet Juice, this Probiotic Berry Smoothie, or this Strawberry Gazpacho.
We’ve gone through most of the obvious water-logged plant-based foods, but did you know that cauliflower also happens to be super water-filled?
Cauliflower is 92 percent water by weight. On top of that, it’s one of those superpower cruciferous veggies that is known to help prevent cancer and is also a great source of vitamin C, K, and folate, as well as minerals including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and a bit of sodium.
Cauliflower also happens to be one of those plant-based ingredients that can be a healthy substitute for a variety of foods such as pizza crust, — like this Cauliflower Pizza Crust, rice, — like this Easy Cauliflower Rice and Greens, or even mashed potatoes — such as in this Mashed Cauliflower recipe.
Another odd veggie out are green bell peppers which happen to be about 92 percent water!
Green bell peppers are a rich source of antioxidants, plus you’ll get a healthy dose of vitamins — A, C, K, and folate — as well as some minerals — calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and sodium. With that said, out of the bell pepper family, green bell peppers are not the sweetest. No worries! If you prefer yellow, red, or orange, you’ll still be getting decent water content.
This plant-based food is also super versatile! It’s hardy yet pliable design makes it excellent for heavier cooking recipes such as this Vegetable Paella, this Roasted Corn and Pepper Soup, or this Sweet Lime Glazed Tofu. Due to its crunchy texture, it’s also great added raw to certain meals such as this Texas Caviar or this Crunchy Asian Cabbage Salad.
Radishes have a whopping water content of 95.3 percent!
This root veggie is also bursting with flavor and is rich in catechin — the same antioxidant found in green tea. On top of that, you’ll get a dose of vitamins A, C, K, folate, and choline, as well as a few minerals, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and sodium.
With that said, these colorful little bites are exactly that … little. Therefore, it’s important to either use a lot of radishes — such as in this Chive Mustard Roasted Radishes or this Butter Braised Radishes and Turnips — or simply mix radishes with a few other high water content foods — such as this Strawberry and Radish Salad with Green Superfood Dressing Dressing or this Spring Salad With Carrots, Beets, and Flowers.
Tomatoes have a water content of 94.5 percent.
They’re also an incredibly rich source of immune system-boosting vitamin C — a single large tomato has over 23 milligrams — along with vitamins A, K, and folate. Tomatoes are also a surprisingly great natural source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and sodium.
These wonderfully juicy and mild veggies are great for a variety of culinary uses such as thickening soups, — Tomato and Mushroom Tortellini Soup or Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup — brightening salads, — Fennel and Brown Rice Salad or Salad Bowl — sweetening a savory dish — Mac and Cheese with Spinach and Tomatoes or Curried Okra — or even starting your day — Balanced Breakfast Bowl or Perfect Breakfast Bagels with Tomato and Basil.
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!
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