How often have you read that your daily hydration quota is eight 8-ounce glasses of water? How many days a week do you fall short of this lofty thirst-quenching goal? Though some experts would say you’re potentially harming your health by not drinking enough H2O, Dr. Howard Murad, author of The Water Secret: The Cellular Breakthrough to Look and Feel 10 Years Younger, says you can deliciously hydrate your body by eating certain foods.
Eat your water
Years ago when I was training for long-distance running events, I pounded water — more than a gallon a day on most days. What seemed like such a wise thing to do in light of my training schedule was actually damaging my health. A blood panel showed that my electrolyte levels were below normal. No wonder I frequently had heart palpitations at rest. A wiser move for replenishing my hydration levels was to drink electrolyte-rich fresh juices and eat hydration-promoting foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Thank you, Dr. Murad, for writing The Water Secret and bringing to light that drinking too much water can actually cause a critical loss of vitamins and minerals as they get whooshed out of the body with every trip to the bathroom.
“Eat your water and you won’t need to count your glasses,” says Dr. Murad, who is an associate clinical professor of medicine at UCLA and founder of the skin care company Murad Inc. “If you replace at least one glass of water a day with one serving of raw fruits or vegetables, you will be able to stay hydrated significantly longer.”
Water is not detrimental to your health
Before you toss your reusable water bottle, understand that drinking water is not bad for you. It is essential for adequate hydration and overall health, but the key is to strategically hydrate so that water is available to your cells throughout the day. According to Dr. Murad, eating foods that are rich in “structured water,” especially raw fruits and vegetables, will help your body hold on to water longer and, as a big bonus, you’ll get the added boost of fiber, antioxidants and other health-promoting phytonutrients. In fact, by sticking to a healthy diet, you’ll end up eating most of the water needed each day to stay hydrated.
Hydrating foods to eat every day
Our body is constantly replacing damaged cells, so it is imperative that we eat and drink to promote our cellular health. Dr. Murad says the best way to do this is to keep the body flooded with cell-protecting antioxidants and the building blocks of stronger cell membranes. He recommends foods that contain high levels of nutrients and “structured water.”
Not only are cucumbers delightfully crunchy and low in calories, they are composed mostly of water, which will keep you feeling hydrated longer. In addition, cucumbers are an excellent source of silica, a trace mineral that contributes to the strength of connective tissue. And don’t peel that cuke! Dr. Murad says, “The cucumber skin is a good source of vitamins A, C and folic acid.” Add diced cucumber to green and grain salads or fan sliced cucumber on the side of your plate as a refreshing side dish. You can also cut cucumber into batons to snack on all afternoon.
One of my favorite richly colored fruits, pomegranates are a wonderfully hydrating source of antioxidants. They may be the world’s most prolific source of polyphenols, according to Dr. Murad. “The unique combination of elements in pomegranates increases the protective abilities of sunscreens, which can help prevent sun damage,” he adds. Add pomegranate arils (the beautiful little red gems you get when you open a pomegranate) to your morning cereal or yogurt, fresh green or fruit salads, or simply dive your spoon into a bowl of arils as a snack. To make your pomegranate eating even easier, POM Wonderful now has ready-to-eat snack cups that come with a spoon!
The buttery-fleshed avocado may not seem like a hydrating food, but these healthy gems replenish potassium and contain healthy fats and fiber, which help your body hold on to water. As a bonus, “the monosaturated fats in avocados contain oleic acid, which has been found to improve fat levels in the body and help control diabetes and cholesterol,” Dr. Murad adds. Layer your sandwiches with avocado slices, dip into guacamole, toss diced avocado into your salads or simply scoop avocado out of its peel as a snack.
Your mom was right when she said to eat your greens. Broccoli and other green foods, such as spinach, are a great source of alpha lipoic acid (ALA) which is a potent fat- and water-soluble antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. Toss raw broccoli into your salads or simply snack on this hardy veg all by itself.
Does your skin frequently feel parched? Eat a mango! Mangos are bursting with vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A. “Vitamin A normalizes the production and life cycle of skin cells,” explains Dr. Murad. Mango can also improve your skin if you suffer from acne. According to the medical expert, in skin with acne, there is an overproduction of cells in the stratum corneum, which is the outermost layer of the skin and is composed of biologically “dead” cells. “These excess dead cells combine with sebum (the skin’s own natural oil) to form comedones — the pore plugs that are the defining element of acne. Taken as a dietary supplement, vitamin A helps to prevent overproduction of skin cells in the stratum corneum,” he adds. You can add mango to every meal and snack as a refreshing and hydrating naturally sweet treat.
Other hydrating must-eat fruits and vegetables include apples, pears, berries, jicama, oranges, grapefruit, watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, plums, peppers, summer squash, leafy greens and celery.