Bored with Drinking Water? Rehydrate with Food.

Although the Institute of Medicine recommends drinking eight glasses of water each day to help maintain good health, CBS News recently reported that up to 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. And while dehydration can occur throughout the year, the hot and humid weather of summer increases your susceptibility to dehydration.

According to the Royal College of Nursing, water comprises between 50 and 75 percent of our body depending on age and gender and is essential for protecting the spinal cord, lubricating joints, controlling blood pressure and digesting food. ABC News reported that losing just two percent of water can lead to dehydration and various symptoms that many people do not recognize as dehydration. For instance, it’s common for people experiencing mild to moderate dehydration to complain of fatigue, weakness and unexplained hunger. It also associated with headaches, kidney stones and muscle cramps. Severe dehydration, which the University of Arizona Health Services defines as 9 to 12 percent loss of body water, can cause life threatening conditions like brain swelling, seizures, kidney failure and coma.

It is normal for our bodies to lose some water everyday through sweating, crying, breathing and using the restroom. Most often, simply drinking liquids can replace the fluid loss. However, there are situations in which fluid recovery can be difficult and raise the risk of dehydration, for example:
  • Fevers, as they require fluid to break. As a body temperature rises, the metabolism increases. Because metabolic processes require water and oxygen, speeding up the metabolic rate requires more oxygen and water, potentially causing dehydration if fluid consumption is not increased.  
  • Viruses, which cause fluid loss. Whether the flu or a cold has you sneezing or a stomach bug has you vomiting or with diarrhea, doctors usually recommend drinking plenty of water, broth and juices to replace the bodily fluids.    
  • Diabetes, because it increases urination. In order to form urine, the kidneys filter blood to remove waste products and reabsorb sugar to direct it back to the blood. When blood sugar levels are abnormally high, the kidneys don’t reabsorb all of the sugar, causing it to spill into the urine and filter out more water. People with diabetes should work with their doctors to determine an appropriate amount of fluids to drink each day.
  • Heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as they are by caused by prolonged exposure to extreme heat and excessive sweating. Learn more by reading this article on MDVIP Connect »
  • Burns and sunburns, as they attract fluid to the skin and away from the rest of the body. This increases the need for more fluids to help prevent dehydration.
Of course, not drinking enough water is the major culprit of a dehydration. Although experts debate whether or not we actually need eight glasses of water every day, a recent study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did find that nearly 50 percent of Americans do not drink enough of water in general. If you are not fond of water, choosing a flavored sparkling water or adding fruit slices to spring water may help make it more appealing. Decaffeinated herbal tea is another alternative. For information on sports drinks and hydration beverages, read this article on MDVIP Connect »

Another option is to “eat” your water. Below are some foods with high water contents.
  • Green leafy vegetables – spinach and lettuce, especially iceberg lettuce
  • Cruciferous vegetables - cauliflower and broccoli
  • Root vegetables – baby carrots and radishes
  • Vine fruits and vegetables - strawberries, blueberries, watermelon and cucumbers
  • Dairy foods - particularly plain yogurt and skim milk, unless you are lactose intolerant or have dairy allergies
  • Red meat, fish, poultry – extra lean ground beef, flounder, white meat chicken with skin and eggs
Incorporating certain foods into your diet can naturally replace electrolytes. These electrically charged minerals, which include sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chlorine and phosphate, are found in blood, sweat and urine and have several functions such as helping the body balance fluids. Some foods high in electrolytes are: 
  • Citrus fruits – grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, lemons and limes
  • Nuts, seeds and nut products – almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, coconut water, almond milk, cashew milk and peanut butter 
  • Bananas
  • Spinach
Additionally, you can prepare foods that are hydrating such as oatmeal that soaks up the milk or water used to cook it, as well as homemade soups, stews and smoothies. Learn nine secrets for making great tasting smoothies by reading this article on MDVIP Connect » 

If staying hydrated is difficult for you, consider limiting foods that are mild natural diuretics like parsley, celery, asparagus, artichokes and cantaloupe. Moreover, coffee, tea, colas and chocolate contain caffeine and can contribute to dehydration. Consuming alcohol, known for causing excessive urination, can interfere with your body’s water levels and promote dehydration, as can high-sodium processed foods that tend to disrupt the fluid balance in cells.

Lastly, learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of dehyration. As per Carnegie Mellon University, the "thirst mechanism" in 37 percent of Americans is so weak, many people often mistake thirst for hunger. Some signs and symptoms of dehydration beyond thirst include: 
  • Dry mouth and swollen tongue
  • Dry cough
  • Flushed skin
  • Heat intolerance
  • Muscle cramps
  • Hunger
  • Moodiness
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Fainting, dizziness and light-headedness
  • Palpitations
  • Sluggishness and fatigue
  • Dark-colored urine
Since we are in the peak of summer, be sure to discuss hydration with your MDVIP-affiliated physician. He or she is your best resource to help you prevent and control dehydration, as well as other issues that you may be at risk of developing. Further, the unique relationship you share with your MDVIP-affiliated doctor makes it easier for him or her to recognize dehydration and take quick action. Don’t have an MDVIP-affiliated doctor? Find one near you by clicking here.

14 Comments
MDVIP
Jul 27th, 2015
Greetings Rick,

We’re happy to hear that you have eliminated sugary soft drinks from your diet. These drinks are often high in sugar and processed ingredients. Experts also recommend water over sports drinks. This Harvard Health article (link below) explains why experts suggest drinking water over sports drinks and this other article (link below) from the American College of Sports Medicine provides recommendations for fluid replacement.

In Good Health,

MDVIP

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/trade-sports-drinks-for-water-201207305079
http://www.beverageinstitute.org/article/fluid-replacement-recommendations-from-the-american-college-of-sports-medicine-acsm/
"

Andrew DePristo
Jul 23rd, 2015
I am replying to your reply to my comment. You state: "This blog was simply pointing out that many Americans are dehydrated and may not realize it. " Aside from CBS news, can you provide any scholarly studies showing the extent of dehydration among Americans?

I don't want platitudes like "Thank you for taking time to read our most recent blog." I want you to stop promulgating medical nonsense that will make a lot of hypochondriacs waste valuable doctor time.

So, who is answering these responses? Do the person(s) have a medical degree or even a PA or Nurse Practitioner background? You are making me lose confidence in the medical expertise of MDVIP and when that happens, I will stop being a member and discourage all of my contacts in the pharma and biotech industry to stop considering MDVIP for concierge physician care.
rick
Jul 21st, 2015
I've read several articles indicating a good rule of thumb was to drink 1/2 your body weight in oz's per day, especially for those who are athletic and tend to perspire more. I never drank that much water. I've eliminated the majority of soda and other high sugar content drinks and drink a good 64-100 oz of water/ day now. I am 195 pounds and athletic. I feel great and its impact on your skin is immeasurable.
Andrew DePristo
Jul 20th, 2015
The lead paragraph to this blog post promulgates nonsense. The Institute of Medicine does NOT recommend drinking eight glasses of water each day, but "set general recommendations for women at approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of total water -- from all beverages and foods -- each day, and men an average of approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water." NOTE THE PHRASE: from all beverages and foods. This is exactly what the experts from the Cleveland Clinic state on MDVIP's own site: http://mdvip.mymedicalforum.com/conversation/water-do-you-need-8-glasses-a-day-infographic . That site contains all the recommendations necessary from preventive medicine specialist Roxanne Sukol, MD. “It’s better to focus on urine output: if it’s almost clear, you’re good. If it’s dark yellow or has a strong odor, try fixing it with a couple of glasses of water.”

Of course, focusing on a simple measure like urine color does not allow the scare tactics that is so evident in national news reporting on health. I typically get my news from NE Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Science, Nature and similar primary literature. I know that not everyone reads (or can understand) this primary literature so I expect a lot more from MDVIP than regurgitation of nonsense from CBS News that up to 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated.

Indeed, the MDVIP blog is so bad with misleading, half-true and illogical scare stories over the past year (e.g., "IS COFFEE THE NEXT METHOD OF PREVENTING SKIN CANCER?" and "A NEW STUDY LINKS SLEEP DEPRIVATION WITH DEMENTIA") that I am beginning to wonder if a physician actually read the information before it is published. And, I am rethinking my membership in MDVIP completely as there are now many concierge physicians groups that are actually run by informed physicians. MDVIP needs to replace whomever is in charge of the MDVIP Blog with a competent physician that understands the importance of factual versus scare tactic reporting and might even understand the difference between association and causation.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jul 22nd, 2015
Greetings Dr. DePristo,

Thank you for taking time to read our most recent blog. To reply to your concerns, we are not trying to scare our readers, as we agree with you that scare tactics are not an effective method of communicating health information. This blog was simply pointing out that many Americans are dehydrated and may not realize it. And while drinking water is the easiest remedy, many people do not like it. Therefore, in addition to adding fruit to their water or drinking herbal tea, eating foods with a high water content, or ones that can help balance their electrolytes, can also keep them hydrated.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Sheila Henderson
Jul 19th, 2015
Great Article...I applaud MDVIP for keeping its members informed of important HEALTH issues. I've been diagnosed with Lupus/CREST Syndrome. For the past 3 months, I've been experiencing a dry frequent cough. My MDVIP doctors are currently running a series of test to determine the cause. I consider myself to be very conscious of the amount of daily water intake but must admit recently this has not been the case. I walk two miles daily and haven't been consuming the amount of water needed after exercising. I'm wondering if this dry cough is associated to dehydration? I'll definitely continue undergoing my scheduled Pulmonologist apts...but I was just wondering. Thanks MDVIP
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jul 27th, 2015
Greetings Sheila,

Thank you for your feedback. We’re glad this article was helpful to you. The best advice we can give you is to continue working with your MDVIP-affiliated physicians to control your lupus and get to the bottom of your cough.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Amada Morton Llorente
Jul 18th, 2015
Awesome article lots of good information. Wish more young people will be able to read it, so they really can understand how much damage all those sport and caffeine drinks are doing to them. One thing that I was surprise about, was at the vegetables and fruits can dehydrate. Most of them I consume a lot.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jul 27th, 2015
Greetings Amada

We’re glad that you found this article helpful. We agree with you that in most cases, water is better than soft drinks and many sports drinks to rehydrate.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Gloria
Jul 17th, 2015
Really good article. I usually have to remind myself to drink water during the day, so now, we leave our water bottles out on the table so that we can keep track of our water intake.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jul 27th, 2015
Greetings Gloria,

We’re glad you enjoyed the article. Leaving your water bottle out to remind you to drink water is a great idea. For more tips to help you drink water throughout the day, you may want to read this article.
http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1014

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Maryjane
Jul 16th, 2015
I am in my 60's and have been on a mild dieuretic for a few years, no problems at all. I drank when I was thirsty and didn't pay much attention to my water consumption.

Then this year, we had an unusually hot spring-into-summer in South Florida ( 100 degrees some days ) and I noticed that I was dry-mouthed sometimes and going into a store asking for water when I was shopping, then I started getting dizzy often during the course of a day.

My doctor ran all the tests and no problems there, but she asked me how much water I drank...I didn't really know. I started drinking a specific amount ( 8 glasses ) a day, with the bottle of water out on the counter.

Then a chiropractor told me to put a pinch of pink Himalayan Salt in the water, (purest salt there is ) to help me absorb the water better.

The combination of the disciplined amount of drinking water, in combination with the pink salt ( pinch) and the dizziness cleared up ! Its been six weeks now and I am fine.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jul 17th, 2015
Greetings Maryjane,

We’re glad to hear that you are feeling better. Many people forget to stay hydrated; yet, as you know all too well, dehydration can lead to a host of health issues.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Darlene
Jul 15th, 2015
I recently had a situation that alerted me of my fluid intake. I donated blood the other day and thought I was drinking enough but found out that the fluids you drink the day before are what you are living on the next day. I needed to drink the day before giving blood as well as during. I became extremely weak and had to sip water to be able to keep it down.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jul 17th, 2015
Greetings Darlene,

Since blood is about 92 percent water, donating blood can cause dehydration. Since it takes about 24 hours to replace the plasma, it is important to drink extra fluids after donating. Other common effects from donating blood include weakness, fatigue, dizziness, chest pain and weak/rapid heart rate. Donating blood is usually safe; however, if you have concerns, make sure you discuss them with your doctor.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Judy Healy
Jul 15th, 2015
I have Sjogren's Syndrome and fight dehydration all the time. Thanks for some tips on how some foods can help satisfy my need for fluids other than boring water. I'll give them a try and hope I succeed in enjoying different ways of increasing my fluid intake.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jul 17th, 2015
Greetings Judy,

Sorry to hear that you have Sjogren’s syndrome. That is certainly a tough condition. Although you probably already have in-depth understanding of Sjogren’s, we thought we would share these tips from the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation.

https://www.sjogrens.org/home/about-sjogrens-syndrome/survival-tips

In Good Health,
MDVIP
Terilla
Jul 15th, 2015
I found out if I keep my empty bottle water on the counter, I can tell just how much water I drank that day. That helps me.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jul 17th, 2015
Greetings Terilla,

Thank you for the great suggestion!

You may also find some of these tips helpful. http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1014

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Janette
Jul 15th, 2015
I was super surprised at the fruits and vegetables that can dehydrate. Excellent article. I'm a runner and always looking for better hydration.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jul 17th, 2015
Greetings Janette,

We’re pleased to hear that you found this article helpful. Running definitely affects your hydration level. You may want to read this Runner’s World article, as it has a lot of good information.

http://www.runnersworld.com/hydration-dehydration/prevent-dehydration-while-running.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

David Vulikh
Jul 15th, 2015
Very educational info.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jul 17th, 2015
Greetings David,

We’re glad this article was helpful!

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Joel Friedman
Jul 15th, 2015
The info on hydration I found very useful. In going about my day, I have not paid attention to my water intake and generally only drank liquid if I felt thirsty. I now realize that I should not wait for a signal, but should make intake a regular part of my daily consumption, even when I am not experiencing thirst. As I get older, 70's +, I am less aware of those body signals.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Jul 17th, 2015
Greetings Joel,

We’re glad that this article was helpful. Unfortunately, as we age, the amount of water in our body naturally decreases, which raises the risk of dehydration. Additionally, certain medications like diuretics and conditions such as diabetes contribute to the problem. And, your perception is correct, as you get older, your sense of thirst is compromised. To stay hydrated, experts suggest that seniors drink five or more 8-ounce glasses of water each day.

In Good Health,
MDVIP


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