Did you know losing just 10 percent of your bodily water content can cause you to lose your ability to walk? Here are some interesting ways to stay hydrated and healthy.
Water makes up about 60% of our body’s weight. Our body needs water to repair and regenerate cells, and regulate various mechanism in the body, including digestion, temperature, circulation, and detoxification. The need for proper hydration is greater in hot climates, where the body loses water more rapidly through perspiration. Physical activity, altitude, stress, and illness or injury also hasten the loss of water and its need for replacement.
Dangers of Dehydration
When our bodies do not contain sufficient water, we will be dehydrated. In the early stages of dehydration, you will fill feel thirsty and experience dryness in the mouth. As dehydration increases, your blood becomes thicker, making your heart work harder to pump it. Your body also begins to pull water from cells to keep the blood flowing, which increases cellular salt concentrations and damages cell membranes.
Losing up to ten percent of our bodily water content causes headaches, dizziness, and tingling in the limbs. Sufferers may lose the ability to walk and speak clearly. Skin may turn blue, and vision may begin to blur. Loss of 15 percent of bodily water severely impairs vision and hearing, swells the tongue, and makes urination painful. Sufferers may be unable to swallow, or may exhibit signs of delirium. Subsequently, death will usually occur if water is not replenished quickly.
To prevent dehydration and the illnesses it brings, don’t wait to become thirsty before you start drinking. Consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables that are high in water content can also do the trick. A 2009 study by the University of Aberdeen Medical School claims that having watermelon or cucumber after finishing an intense workout may hydrate your body twice as effectively as a glass of water. This is because water-rich fruits and vegetables also provide you with natural sugars, amino acids, mineral salts and vitamins that are lost in exercise.
Here are some natural foods with the highest water content to help you stay hydrated while packing a punch when it comes to nutrients.
Cucumbers have the highest water content of any solid food. Crunchy and refreshing, it is perfect for salads and sandwiches. Alternately, you can simply chew a few slices to soothe an irritated throat after taking hot and spicy food.
Besides being great for salads, sandwiches and stir-frys, iceberg lettuce also provides you with lots of fibre, vitamin A and vitamin K.
Celery. Water content: 95%
Celery contains folate and vitamins A, C, and K. Eating celery helps neutralise stomach acid and is recommended as a natural remedy for heartburn and acid reflux.
Cabbage. Water content: 93%
Cabbage is full of vitamin K and anthocyanins that help with mental function and concentration. These nutrients also prevent nerve damage, thus improving your defence against Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia.
Peppers. Water content: 92%
Peppers are one of the richest sources of vitamins A and C. Just a cup a day can provide more than 100% of your daily needs. They are also rich in phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin which protects the eyes, as well as beta-carotene and lycopene which may help protect against certain types of cancer.
Spinach. Water content: 92%
No wonder Popeye loves this vegetable! Spincah is loaded with vitamins like A, K, D, and E, trace minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and more than a dozen different anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory flavonoid compounds.
Watermelon. Water content: 91.5%
This juicy melon is not only a thirst quencher, it is also among the richest sources of lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant found in red fruits and vegetables. In fact, watermelon contains more lycopene than raw tomatoes—about 12 milligrams per wedge, versus 3 milligrams per medium-sized tomato.
Star fruit. Water content: 91.4%
This sweet and crunchy native Malaysian fruit is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. It is delicious whether eaten on its own or made into a juice.
Strawberries. Water content: 92.0%
All berries are good foods for hydration but juicy red strawberries are the best of the bunch. Besides, strawberries are rich in anthocyanins that boost short-term memory and stimulate the burning of stored fat.
Eggplant. Water content: 92%
Thanks to the high fibre, high bioflavonoids and low soluble carbohydrate content of the eggplant, it is good for the heart and has been used for controlling and managing diabetes.
Grapefruit. Water content: 91%
A natural cross-breed between orange and pomelo, the grapefruit provides a tart and tangy sweetness and water content that surpasses that of its more popular cousin, the orange, which is 87% water.
Broccoli & Cauliflower. Water content: 91% to 92%
These cruciferous vegetables are antioxidants powerhouses and contain a substance called glucosinolates which have displayed anti-cancer effects in cell cultures and animal studies.
Reference: The water content listed in the foods above are from the book “Bowes and Church’s Food Values of Portions Commonly Used”, 1998, by Anna De Planter Bowes.
How Much Water Should You Drink Every Day?
People need one to four litres of water – which can be obtained from beverages and foods – every day depending on their age, sex, health status, living environment and activities.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, newborns and infants need 0.7 to 0.8 litres of water a day from breast milk or formula. Toddlers need 1.3 litres and young children up to eight years need 1.7 litres daily.
Boys, aged nine to 13 need 2.4 liters daily, while older teen boys and adult men need 2.7 litres.
Girls, aged nine to 13 need 2.1 liters and teenage girls need 2.3 liters. Adult women need at least 2.7 liters of water each day. During pregnancy, women need at least 3 liters of water; and during lactation, 3.8 litres daily.
Reference: United States Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium, Sodium, Chloride and Sulphate.