By Kirsten Serrano
The record-breaking scorching heat across the nation means your body is more in need of water than ever. Afterall, you are mostly water. (Men are about 60% water and women 55%.) Water is vital to all your bodily functions including removal of waste, oxygenation, movement and nourishment. In fact, water is so essential that we can only survive about 3 days without it!
There are some hydration myths that need to be busted. The “you must drink 8 glasses of water” a day dogma is a myth. Your fluid needs vary. Let’s bust another hydration myth. You have likely heard that not only do you need 8 glasses, but that it must be water. Not true. Nearly all beverages count (because they are mostly water.) The notable exception is alcohol. As I write this, I am sitting in a coffee shop with both a cold brew coffee and a sparkling water. They are both hydrating me.
You need to be hydratring to fit your lifestyle and so that you do not feel thirsty. Because I am a farmer who spends a lot of time working and sweating in the heat, I am unyielding in my devotion to hydration. I learned the hard way. I have had extreme muscle cramps, lightheadedness, chills and floaters in my vision from serious dehydration. In the heat of summer, I am drinking 8 glasses a day many times over and I am often adding electrolytes to replace all those I am sweating out. Really paying attention to your body is the best way to make sure you are getting the fluids you need. Some signs that you are not getting enough include thirst, fatigue, light-headedness, dry lips/eyes, and dark and decreased urine.
What’s in your cup is not the only way to hydrate. Food counts too! The abundance of fresh produce this time of year is not only ripe for the picking but also full of water. This list of fruits and veggies (and funghi!) are all over 90% water:
- Sweet Peppers
- Portobello Mushrooms
Fresh produce has added benefits like fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are going to not only hydrate you but work together synergistically to improve overall health. The humble tomato contains over 10,000 phytochemicals. Many have health benefits we have not even figured out yet! Plus, a tomato is 95% water. Think of it as a glass of water with 10,000 added benefits.
It’s not surprising that highly processed foods like cookies and chips are very low in water. It is one more way that our super-processed standard American diet is failing us. I often get asked what’s the one food change someone should make and I always give the same answer. My number one recommendation to everyone is to eat more produce. Nutrition recommendations are famous for flip flopping, but eating more produce will always be in style. Now, you have another reason to eat fresh fruits and vegetables.
So, this September enjoy a slice of melon, a cucumber salad, a thick slice of tomato on your sandwich, and your beverage of choice. You will reap the benefits of all that hydration.