What color is your urine? Do you know what colors are healthy, and which ones signal dehydration? If your urine is dark yellow, you may be dehydrated. If it’s clear or light yellow, congrats – you’re more than likely properly hydrated! Other symptoms of moderate dehydration are fatigue and headaches. Sometimes what you think is hunger is, in fact, a symptom of dehydration. You’ve heard it a million times – it’s critical to stay hydrated, especially in the summer. If you exercise outside, even more so!
Between 60 and 70 percent of your body weight is made up of water, but you’re constantly losing water through breathing, urine, and sweat. Studies have shown that athletes can lose up to two quarts of water per hour! You’ve probably heard the rule that you should drink eight glasses of water each day, but a better guideline may be to make sure you drink and eat enough liquid and liquid-containing foods that you go to the bathroom every two to four hours. And don’t wait until you’re thirsty, especially if you’re an athlete – the body is very good at hiding signs of mild dehydration, and by the time you feel thirsty, you’re likely already dehydrated.
But don’t reach for that glass of water just yet. A 2009 study at the University of Aberdeen Medical School showed that eating water-rich fruits and vegetables post-workout re-hydrated the body better than water or sports drinks (in fact, they may be up to twice as effective as water!), because they contain not just liquids but also vitamins, minerals, and natural sugars. Water does not contain electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium, which you lose when you sweat, which is another reason to choose fruits and vegetables. According to the Institute of Medicine, on average people get around 20 percent of their water from food, but you can get even more water to help you stay hydrated by choosing fruits and vegetables with a high water content, which provide volume but fewer calories, meaning you can eat more of these foods without greatly increasing the number of calories you eat. So which fruits and vegetables top the list?
Watermelon, which is 92 percent water, came in top of the 2009 study as the best food for re-hydrating your body. It contains a good balance of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and lycopene (which may be linked to lower rates of heart disease and cancers). Why not try a slice of watermelon after your next workout?
Cucumber, although not quite as high as iceberg lettuce (96 percent), is a whopping 95 percent water, and also contains fiber and vitamin C plus electrolytes potassium, sodium and magnesium.
Fruits and Vegetables With Over 90 Percent Water Content
In addition to watermelon and cucumber, the following fruits and vegetables all contain over 90 percent water content: cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, sweet peppers, radishes, spinach, zucchini, and tomatoes.
Other Hydrating Fruits and Vegetables
Finally, while all the above vegetables are excellent choices to help keep you hydrated, there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables which, while not quite as water-rich, are still great for keeping you hydrated. These all have above 70 percent water content: apples, apricots, banana, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, grapes, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, raspberries, carrots, green peas and white potatoes. So enjoy the abundance of fruits and vegetables this summer and make sure you stay hydrated!