If there is a season that re-introduces us to our love of water, it is surely the summer. There are few reprieves from the hot sun holier than a cool body of water—and nothing more refreshing than a post-run plunge into the pool followed by a lakeside reading session.
While we bring our bodies to plenty of water, we may find that we are ingesting a bit less H2O than necessary to keep ourselves properly fueled and energized to enjoy the longer, hotter, and more humid days. We get it: scrambling to chug water on the beach isn’t always top-of-mind, particularly when the rosé is flowing and you polished off your water bottle hours ago. But all of the above just makes proper hydration more necessary.
Why is it easier to get dehydrated in the summer, you ask? If you spend any amount of time outside (or even in a stuffy indoor environment), you’ll likely find that your sweat gland suddenly seem a bit more…overactive. “With hot temperatures, many individuals are more prone to sweating, which causes the body to lose water,” says nutrition expert Keri Gans, RD. “When you sweat more, you’re not only losing water, but also electrolytes. Without enough fluids and electrolytes to properly hydrate, your body can start to overheat,” adds general practitioner Dana Cohen, MD. “Replenishing those electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, is key to rehydrating properly.”
Of course, hydration is an imperative part of maintaining optimal health at all times of year, not just the warmer months. “Water takes up most of our body weight—up to 60 percent in adults,” says Dr. Cohen. “So, as you might expect, water is involved in so many important functions in your body. Water helps your body work properly and helps to flush out waste, maintain proper brain function so you can stay focused and alert, and regulate your body temperature.” Moreover, as Gans adds, “Hydration helps to prevent infections, keep our joints lubricated, delivers nutrients to our cells, and allows our organs to do their jobs efficiently.”
If you find yourself oddly confused, with a headache, nausea, or loss of appetite in the summer, it may be a sign that you’re not getting enough fluids and/or losing important electrolytes. Water is aces here—you obviously can’t beat it for staying hydrated. But who doesn’t appreciate an edible way to up your water intake, too? When it comes to finding hydrating foods, you have a number of delicious options to nosh on during your long days under the sun.
The best hydrating foods for summer (and every season)
There are a number of fruits and vegetables that contain significant water content in addition to vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients that are crucial to keeping you going. In fact, according to Dr. Cohen, some of the most hydrating foods are actually made up of more than 90 percent water. The best part? The top recommendations from both Dr. Cohen and Gans here are all easily-accessible fruits and vegetables that you may already have in your fridge (or better yet, your beach cooler).
- Watermelon: There’s a reason this healthy fruit is one of the most hydrating around, and it’s all in the name. Watermelon’s water content stands at an impressive 92 percent, plus it contains vitamins C and A as well as magnesium.
- Cucumber: Whether you want to make a cucumber granita or just slice up a few cucumbers raw, we’re on board. These babies contain 96 percent water, which makes them perfect for the summer. We recommend keeping the skins on to help boost the amount of gut-friendly fiber.
- Lettuce: A solid salad with a base of lettuce and piled with fresh produce isn’t just a delicious meal—it can be an excellent option for those looking to introduce some additional water into their system. Romaine lettuce is 95 percent water, so your green salad is basically just green H2O.
- Tomatoes: If you’re making a salad, you might as well toss in some tomatoes. They have a similar water content to lettuce, and also contain potassium—important, as you lose lots of this key mineral when you sweat—and other vitamins and minerals. And what’s sweeter than a ripe fresh tomato in the summertime?
- Strawberries: In addition to those sultry little seeds, strawberries are made from 91 percent water. The fiber-filled fruit also contains plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Peaches: Peaches are made up of around 90 percent water. They’re great raw or in a yogurt bowl, but we love freezing fresh peaches and dropping them into sparkling water for the ultimate hydration-boosting bevvie.
- Cantaloupe: Melon salads made with cantaloupe are perfect snacks for picnics, beach days, and boat rides. They’re made of 90 percent water and are packed with vitamin A (120 percent of your daily needs in a single cup), so they have added benefits for skin and eye health.
- Oranges: There’s a reason that starting your day with a glass of fresh-squeezed OJ is often recommended, and it’s not just for the vitamin C. Oranges contain 86 percent H2O, so while that’s a little less hydrating than other options on this list, it’s still nothing to sneeze at.