What is dehydration?
The human body is composed of around 60 to 70 percent of water in weight. When the water content of the body dips lower than that, dehydration can occur. This happens when the amount of water lost through excretion is more than what is consumed.
Water is a very important element in the human body and is required for body functions. Most of the water in the body is contained within the cells or what is called the intracellular space.
Dehydration often occurs during the summer season when the temperature is hot and the air is dry. During this season, it is quite important to get enough fluids to replace what is lost when the body sweats.
Initial symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth, and decreased urine volume. If the body doesn’t get enough water soon, it can lead to muscle cramps, nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness (usually felt when standing), heart palpitations, and weakness. At its worst, dehydration can cause the body organs to fail that can then lead to death.
Plain drinking water should be the first choice when replenishing body fluids lost during hot climates. Fruit juices and sodas should be consumed sparingly as these may contain added sugar which may aggravate dehydration.
Foods that contain high amounts of water
Besides liquid sources, water can also be found on foods we eat. Everything we eat has some water content, even the dried ones. And during summer, it becomes essential that we increase water intake by consuming certain foods. Here is a list of good foods to eat when dehydrated.
Vegetables to eat when dehydrated
Summer may be the perfect time to toss some fresh garden salads. Certain vegetables are good foods to eat when dehydrated. Besides containing substantial amounts of water, they also provide electrolytes likeotassium, and of course, rich levels of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.
Compared to other vegetables, celery contains the highest level of water content – around 96 percent. Including it in your dishes also provides not only water. Just three stalks of celery provide the body’s daily requirement for calcium, potassium, magnesium, and sodium. This tangy vegetable also contains valuable nutrients like iron, phosphorus, and zinc.
Cucumbers are so richly packed with water, making them good foods to eat when dehydrated. Eating cucumbers increases water level intake because it is also around 96 percent water in weight. This gourd is also rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium that counter dehydration.
Other watery vegetables
Lettuce also has 96 percent water. Zucchini and radish contain around 95 percent water. Tomatoes are 94 percent water and green cabbage is 93 percent water. Cauliflower, red cabbage, eggplant, spinach, and peppers all contain 92 percent water. 91 percent of broccoli’s weight is water. Other watery vegetables are carrots and potatoes with 87 percent and 79 percent respectively.
Besides adding water to the daily consumption, a medley of these vegetables in a soup or a dish provides essential nutrients as well as dietary fiber and healthy carbohydrates.
Fruits to eat when dehydrated
It is no wonder why fruits usually represent the onset of summer. They are also good foods to eat when dehydrated because they refresh the body.
And when it comes to fruits, watermelon beats the competition, and the name of this watery fruit says it all. It contains around 92 percent water and is rich in micronutrients like vitamin C, lycopene, and beta carotene. And even with its refreshing sweet taste, it only contains 8 percent sugar. It is because of these qualities that watermelon tops the list of good foods to eat when dehydrated. Watermelon is also rich in rehydrating salts like magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium.
Strawberries are at par with watermelon when it comes to water content with the same 92 percent score.
Other watery fruits
Other fruits that are among the good foods to eat when dehydrated are grapefruit (91 percent), cantaloupe (90 percent), and peaches (88 percent). Fruits that have 87 percent water include pineapple, orange, cranberries, and raspberries. Apricots provide 86 percent water, while plums and blueberries come in at 85 percent. Apples and pears contain 84 percent water, while grapes and cherries both have 81 percent water. And who would have thought that even the filling banana has 74 percent water?
More hydrating than water
According to a study, eating cucumber or watermelon is two times more effective in hydrating the body than a glass of plain water. This is due to the added contents of fruits and vegetables like natural sugars, mineral salts, amino acids, and vitamins. The same study even showed that fruits and vegetables are more effective than sports drinks.
Eating fruits and vegetables after an intense workout replenishes the lost water, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients without the added artificial flavors and colors. The high water content also leads to a feeling of being full that lasts longer.
To aid in hydration as well as help prevent diseases like cancer and cardiovascular problems, it is recommended to have at least four servings of fruits and five servings of vegetables per day.
Other good foods to eat when dehydrated
One of the causes of dehydration is the lack of electrolytes and sodium in the body which are important for body functions. Having broth-based soups help in rehydrating the body while it also helps in maintaining a low calorie diet. A vegetable broth soup, for example, can contain around 98 percent water, making it a very hydrating part of everyday meals. Put in a combination of watery and flavorful vegetables like celery, lettuce, zucchini, and radish to make it even more satisfying and nutritious. The sodium content of the soup will help replenish the lost body salts.
Desserts like gelatine are also good foods to eat when dehydrated. Like soups, gelatine is composed mostly of water. It also contains sodium which aids proper functioning of the muscles and the nerves. Gelatine desserts are lightweight when it comes to calorie content with just 20 calories for a 100 gram serving.