10 Ways to Eat Water

June 30, 2014

By Anna Varriano

Most people I see don’t drink nearly enough water, and while it’s important to do so in any season, it’s especially important in the hot summer months. In this month’s tip, I’m sharing 10 foods that can significantly contribute to our hydration – in fact, eating a cup of one of these foods will hydrate us almost as well as a glass of water does!

Sick or Thirsty?

One of my most popular corporate workshops is called “The Fabulous 5: 5 Steps To Overall Good Health and Well-Being”. The first step I present is to drink plenty of pure, filtered water. It’s first on the list because we’re basically just a big bag of water with some minerals thrown in! Water is critical to the proper functioning of every single one of our cells, tissues and organs. A few of the many, many functions of water in the body are that it helps to regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, promote regular bowel movements, and flush out toxins. There’s a great book called “Your Body’s Many Cries For Water” that explains why not getting enough water can be the cause of many health problems, including blood pressure issues, joint pain/arthritis, weight management struggles, fatigue, and headaches.

How Much Is Enough?

While the amount of water we need depends on a number of things, including the food we eat, the temperature and humidity of our environment, and our activity level, a common rule-of-thumb to calculate how much water we should drink every day is to divide our body weight (in pounds) by 2. This gives the number of ounces of water one should drink each day (e.g. someone who weighs 160 pounds should drink 80 ounces of water per day). Based on this rule-of-thumb, are you drinking enough water?

Are You Hungry or Thirst?

If you’re not drinking enough water, you’re not alone. It’s my experience that most people don’t drink enough water, and I’ve heard all kinds of reasons why they don’t, including that they don’t like to drink water – it’s boring. There are all kinds of ways to ‘spruce up’ water, including infusing it with lemon and lime slices or with cut up fruit and fresh herbs like mint or basil. Another big reason why we don’t drink enough water is that we often mistake thirst as hunger, so when our body is really crying out for water, we eat something instead. Interestingly, studies have shown that drinking a glass of water shuts down hunger pangs in almost 100% of cases.

10 Ways to Eat Water

While we should strive to get most of our hydration from drinking pure, filtered water, we can get a significant amount of water from certain foods. Here is a list of 10 foods whose water content is over 90%! The water content of each food is listed in brackets for your learning pleasure.

1.  Cucumber (96%) – In addition to being a great source of water, cucumber is also high in silica – an important mineral for healthy bones, skin, hair, and nails. A cup of cucumber slices can hydrate the body almost as well as a glass of water can! Cucumber slices are often used to soothe puffy and swollen eyes and can bring relief to sunburnt skin. Now you know where the expression ‘cool as a cucumber’ comes from! I love cutting cucumbers lengthwise, scooping out the seeds, and filling them with egg salad. A cucumber-mint tzatziki is also a great way to get cucumber into more meals and snacks and it is so refreshing!

2.  Celery (96%) – When you eat a celery stick, it’s pretty obvious that it’s loaded with water. Celery is also a great source of sodium – and where sodium goes, water follows. Celery also helps with digestion and folklore claims it is a great tonic for the kidneys and joints.

3.  Tomatoes (95%) – You can’t beat a fresh-picked vine-ripened tomato! Delicious as is, or sliced with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. If you like cool soups, gazpacho soup would be another great way to enjoy tomatoes in the summer time.

4.  Radishes (95%) – Radishes are often cited as having natural cooling properties to reduce excess heat in the body. They also help to stimulate our digestion. Slice them up and add them to your favourite salad recipe.

5.  Zucchini (95%) – I guess there’s a reason why zucchini plants are so fruitful in the summer! Zucchini is a versatile and mild-tasting veggie that will take on any flavour beautifully. It can be baked, grilled, and even turned into spaghetti. Check out my zucchini pasta recipe here!

July 2014 tip

6.  Watermelon (92%) – Big piles of whole watermelons in the grocery store or at the produce stand are a sure sign of summer! For all you soccer moms and dads out there, you know that watermelon slices are a popular ‘refuelling snack’ during and after games. While most melons have a water content of 90% or more, watermelons also contain essential electrolytes that help to keep the body hydrated, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely CRAVE watermelon in the summer!

7.  Strawberries (92%) – Another sign that summer is here – fresh, local strawberries! In addition to their high water content, strawberries are loaded with phytonutrients that have been shown to support cardiovascular health in many studies. Strawberries are one of the fruits that are typically identified as having high pesticide residues, so buy low-spray or organic whenever possible.

8.  Bell peppers (92%) – Bell peppers are a great source of water and vitamin C. When you are cutting them up, make sure you don’t cut away the white pithy part on the inside! It is full of bioflavonoids that are known to keep our blood vessel walls strong and healthy. Also, when buying bell peppers, go for a variety of colours – red, yellow, orange (many people find the green ones hard to digest) – to get a variety of nutrients. Like strawberries, bell peppers are often identified as having high pesticide residues, so buy organic whenever possible.

9.  Lettuce (90-95%) – Most greens have a high water content and are a great source of fibre and nutrients. Go for variety with your greens to ensure a variety of nutrients and to enjoy different flavours and textures. Bitter greens such as arugula and Belgian endive are great digestive aids.

10.  Broccoli (91%) – I can’t even begin to count the number of times I said “Eat your broccoli!” to my kids when they were growing up. Given its high water content, maybe I should have been saying “Drink your broccoli!” Broccoli is definitely a nutritional powerhouse.

In addition to adding these 10 water-packed foods to your meals and snacks, do your best to avoid ‘water-thieves’ (aka diuretics) that make the body lose water by promoting urine formation. Some common diuretics include caffeine (coffee, tea, and colas are typical sources), alcohol, soft drinks, and high protein diets.

The next time you serve a cucumber and tomato salad this summer, instead of saying “bon appetite”, you may want to say “cheers”!

So, cheers  to local summer time produce… and to your health!



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