Water is absolutely fundamental to long-term health; the human body is composed of 60% water (1) and is what keeps your body running. Every single cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water in order to function properly. Water also maintains your body’s temperature, lubricates your joints and removes waste.
Astonishingly, the human body can survive for weeks, even months without food, however it will shut down very quickly without water. Dehydration can kill you within days or even hours, depending on the temperature and your environment. If you are not hydrated, your body can’t metabolize, process, and function at its best. And still, some of us are not drinking nearly as much as we should to keep our bodies hydrated (ahem...guilty!).
This brings us to the age-old question... how much water should we be consuming?
You’ve probably heard we should be drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day (3). For some of us, myself included, that can seem like a daunting task.
Here’s the secret; you don’t have to drink all that water... you can eat it!
Approximately 20% of our daily H2O intake comes from solid foods, particularly fruits and vegetables (4). There is an abundance of fruit and vegetables that have a high-water content, are refreshing and packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein.
Up your water intake with these delicious, nutritious and hydrating fruits and vegetables:
Consisting of 95% water (5) and important electrolytes, cucumbers help ward off dehydration. Rich in nutrients, cucumbers contain vitamins K, B and C, copper, potassium, and manganese. They are also naturally low in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Cucumbers are perfect in salads, or sliced up and served with a dip.
Tomatoes have been linked to having many health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. Tomatoes consist of roughly 95% water (6), they are a great source of vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene. As well as being healthful, tomatoes are tasty and versatile - chop them, blend them, roast them or eat them raw.
Cabbage has potent antioxidants that help protect against cancer, suppress inflammation and boost the immune system amongst many other benefits. The fibre and 90% water content (7) in cabbage helps prevent constipation and maintain healthy bowel movement.
Strawberries are such a refreshing fruit to eat, and it’s no surprise why. 91% (8) of this little berry is made up of water. Jam-packed (pun intended) with antioxidants and their anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and anti-cancer properties, they have serious health benefits.
Crunchy, tasty and highly nutritious – carrots are a great source of beta-carotene, fibre, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants (9). Carrots have been linked to reducing the risk of cancer, lowering blood cholesterol levels, aiding in weight loss, slowing down the ageing process and improving immune function and eye health. (10)
Celery is the unsung vegetable rich in antioxidants. Well known for its crunchy stalks, which people often consume as a low-calorie snack. Celery helps to reduce high blood pressure, cholesterol and detoxify the body. Its high-water content (95%) and electrolytes can prevent dehydration (12).
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable and is considered a nutrient powerhouse. Rich in vitamins C and K, folate, manganese, fibre, calcium and potassium. Broccoli also contains more protein than most other vegetables and is made up of 90% water (13). Broccoli is most nutritious when steamed, raw or microwaved (14).
Spinach is a high-water content (91%) green and is a boost to many systems throughout the body (15). It is dense in vitamins and minerals, low in calories and versatile in cooking. It is rich in vitamins A, C and K; minerals such as iron, magnesium, manganese and calcium; and antioxidant flavonoids and carotenoids like beta-carotene.
So the next time you're worried about whether or not you're drinking enough water, snack on one (or all!) of the following for a flavour-packed boost of hydration.
7. Paul, A.A., Southgate, D.A.T., McCance and Widdowson's The Composition Of Foods, 4th Revised Edition, London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1978)
12. Sakoutis, Z., & Huss, E. (2010). The 3-day cleanse: drink fresh juice, eat real food, and get back into your skinny jeans. New York: Wellness Central.