Eat Your Water

70% of our bodies are made up of water and it is estimated that we lose on average about ten cups of water each day through normal bodily functions such as breathing, sweating, and going to the bathroom.  While topping off eight bottles of Poland Spring sounds like the way to go, frankly it’s quite boring and an unrealistic expectation.  In fact, even if you do manage to make it to number eight you can still be dehydrated.  The secret is to have a good balance between two key minerals: sodium and potassium.  Sodium, from a culinary standpoint is a key ingredient to enhancing flavor but also is often abused and superfluous in our society.  But, for the purposes of this article sodium blocks water absorption into the body.  Bear with me for a minute while I get a little scientific.  The cells in our body have these little doors that open and close based on mineral balance.  Potassium triggers the release of sodium from inside our cells (bodily absorption) to outside our cells into bodily fluid that will eventually be excreted.  So due to our sodium rich lifestyles, we have a lot of sodium build up in our bodies and just because there is water coming through doesn’t necessarily mean the sodium is washing away with it.  Sodium needs the potassium to give it a little nudge and open the cell door to let the sodium out and the water in.  Phew!   

Okay so how do I get more potassium?  The potassium heroes are avocados, baked potato with skin, cooked spinach, lentils, and of course bananas.  Also, coconut water has a high percentage of potassium.  Try mixing coconut water with club soda and frozen fruit to off-set the initial unflattering taste.    

So now that we have our little potassium doorman in place try getting creative with alternatives to water.  Moisture rich foods include: cucumbers, all types of melons (which are actually 90% water and a good source of potassium), strawberries, lettuce, celery and even cold soups like gazpacho.  An additional benefit to eating foods with high moisture will help keep you full on fewer calories!  And while we’re on the topic of waistlines, retaining water happens when you don’t have enough fluid and your body fears famine and holds onto every ounce of water it can get.  Which results in bloating.  

Suggestions:
– Don’t always rely on thirst, sometimes by the time you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated
– Beverages at moderate temperatures are said to be consumed in greater volumes
– Despite the popular myth, a frozen water bottle is a good way to ensure a cool beverage for a few hours

Avoid:
– Chugging your way through 8 cups of water – spread it out through the day
– Avoid frozen coffee drinks, sugary fruit drinks and teas.  Look for ‘no sugar added.’  Always read labels because ‘100% fruit’ and ‘All Natural’ can be misleading.   

Hydration Fruit in Season:
-Peaches – 89% water and a good source of vitamin C and moderate levels of potassium (285mg)
-Nectarine – 87% water and a good source of vitamins A and C and fiber
– Tomatoes – 95% water, and a half-cup is about 15 calories, and a good source of vitamins A and C and moderate levels of potassium (194mg)

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