Dehydration food to eat

Is Drinking Water Enough?

For a mild case, it should be enough just to drink plenty of fluids. Water is your first choice, but there are lots of special drinks on the market that will help you replace your body’s lost water and electrolytes.

If you can’t get a pre-mixed rehydration solution, don’t try to make one yourself. Instead, replace lost fluids naturally with sips of water, fruit juice, crushed fruit mixed with water, or salty soups or broths.

Fruit juices may upset your stomach, so it’s best to dilute them with water. Avoid coffee, tea, soda, and alcoholic drinks. They’re diuretics, which means they can dehydrate you more because they all pull water from your body.

If your dehydration is serious, you may need to see a doctor to get treated with intravenous (IV) fluids. Severe dehydration may require you to go to the hospital. You should get medical attention immediately if you:

  • Haven’t peed in 8 hours
  • Have had a seizure
  • Are disoriented or confused
  • Have a weak or rapid pulse
  • Feel very tired
  • Feel dizzy when you stand
  • Are too sick (nauseated or vomiting) to take in fluids

16 Foods and Drinks to Avoid When You’re Dehydrated

With temperatures rising, your body needs more water and key electrolytes to carry out its normal functions. According to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in.

But dehydration doesn’t just occur because you’re not drinking enough H2O. It can also happen if you eat or drink certain foods and beverages that have a diuretic effect, meaning they help your body get rid of fluids. To ensure you’re properly hydrated, exercise caution with these foods and drinks that can cause dehydration—especially when it’s particularly hot out.

Here are the 16 foods and drinks you should avoid when you’re dehydrated.

1

Soda

Courtesy of

Sipping on a fizzy soda might seem refreshing on a hot day, but research from the World Health Organization shows that sugar in soft drinks (especially diet beverages) can have a hypernatremic effect on the body. In translation, it means that it actually draws water from your tissues and depletes your body of fluids. Moreover, the caffeine in sodas acts as a mild diuretic and causes you to urinate more frequently. A study from PLOS One also shows that drinking chilled carbonated beverages can give you a false impression that it’s hydrating when, in fact, it’s robbing you of H2O.

2

Fruit Juice

Much like soda, commercial fruit juices (which typically have loads of empty calories) can promote dehydration. Fruit juice and fruit drinks are also high in carbohydrates, which can upset your stomach and exacerbate dehydration symptoms. For guidance on how to snack on fruit the healthy way, check out 20 Most Filling Fruits and Veggies—Ranked.

3

Coconut Water

Don’t let the “water” in “coconut water” fool you. Not only do many varieties of the trendy drink contain H2O-draining added sugar, but research has also shown that coconut water is less hydrating than regular water. According to a study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, coconut water isn’t as hydrating as water during exercise. The study also suggests that because of coconut water’s bitter taste, people are less inclined to drink it post-workout compared to straight-up water.

4

Coffee

While enjoying a cup or two of joe in the morning is fine, overdoing it on the caffeine can pose a dehydration risk. Per a French study, caffeine has a well-known diuretic effect and can inhibit sodium reabsorption. So you can still enjoy your latte, but be sure to limit your consumption to 400 mg of caffeine daily and avoid using sugar or artificial sweeteners.

5

‘Detox Tea’

Tea has a wealth of health-boosting polyphenols and antioxidants, but detox varieties are actually dehydrating and pose certain health risks. Many of these detox teas that purport to flatten your belly and drop pant sizes contain senna leaves—which have a laxative effect. If you’ve been drinking these teas to help you lose weight, talk to your doctor or dietitian about a safer, more effective way to shed pounds.

6

Energy Drinks

A Red Bull might sound like a great idea after a late night out, but energy drinks like these often do more harm than good. According to a study in Amino Acids, energy drinks have fluid-robbing effects. Research in the International Journal of Health Sciences shows that they can cause gastrointestinal distress when drinking it during a workout.

7

Alcohol

There’s a reason you experience so many of those bathroom breaks in between drinks and wake up with a hangover after a night of revelry. Alcohol is a natural diuretic and causes your body to squeeze out water from your cells. Although it might be tempting to enjoy a few beers outside on a hot summer day, sweating coupled with imbibing will dehydrate you even faster. To avoid getting dehydrated, be sure to sip on water in between alcoholic drinks.

8

Asparagus

The rumors are true: Asparagus makes your pee smell strange and it also makes you pee more often. According to a study in the West Indian Medical Journal, the amino acid in asparagus called aspargine can cause your body to release water. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop eating asparagus altogether. It’s an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants, after all. However if you suffer from kidney stones, the National Institutes of Health recommends avoiding the spring veggie.

RELATED: Your guide to the anti-inflammatory diet that heals your gut, slows the signs of aging, and helps you lose weight.

9

Artichokes

Artichoke has been used traditionally as a medicinal herb for its diuretic and digestive properties. In a review in the Monaldi Archives For Chest Disease, researchers found that the veggie has diuretic effects on both animals and humans, though it’s unlikely that consuming normal amounts of artichoke will dehydrate you. The veggie has actually been shown to have numerous benefits, including preventing cardiovascular disease and detoxing the liver.

10

Beets

As with several foods on this list, beets have diuretic properties. While eating them in moderation likely won’t leave you dehydrated, the ruby-hued veggies help flush the liver. They’re also high in potassium, which helps eliminate fluid in the body.

11

High-Protein Meals

Courtesy of

Eating high-protein meals is a great way to stay full and energized while building muscle, but overdoing it on protein can lead to dehydration. Researchers from the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences enlisted five student-athletes to consume low, moderate, and high amounts of protein for four weeks at a time. The hydration status of the athletes was evaluated bi-weekly. Researchers found that when athletes consumed the highest amount of protein, their kidney function became abnormal, but when they cut back on protein, their kidney function returned to normal. This isn’t reason enough to nix a protein-rich diet, but it shows that you should increase your water intake when you up your protein consumption.

12

Cured Meats

Cured meats are dehydrating because they’re loaded with salt and sugar that’ll suck water right out of your body. For example, just one serving of Boar’s Head chorizo contains 520 mg of sodium—over a third of the daily recommendation for salt. If you want to curb your sodium intake, eliminate cured meats from your diet and stick to lean, grass-fed meat instead.

13

Soy Sauce

Another salty item people often overlook is soy sauce. The popular sushi condiment contains a whopping 879 mg of sodium per each serving, so you could easily hit your daily salt quota with soy sauce alone. Ingesting too much salt not only leads to dehydration, but it also puts you at risk for high blood pressure.

14

Fried Foods

Courtesy of

Fried foods are hidden sources of salt, and when you pair them with sugary condiments, they become the ultimate dehydrating duo. Like a bad chain reaction, they’ll signal to your body that you need more fluids, and you’ll be tempted to order a soda at the drive-thru. So make sure you have some water on hand if you’re planning to treat yourself to some French fries or chicken nuggets.

15

Salty Snacks

Mindlessly noshing on potato chips, popcorn, or pretzels can take a toll on your weight-loss efforts, not to mention your hydration levels. The saltier the snacks, the thirstier you’ll be. Instead of reaching for salty snacks, swap them for veggies and hummus. They have the same wonderful crunch and are packed with satiating fiber and protein, so you’ll stay fuller longer.

16

Frozen Dinners

According to the American Heart Association, more than 75 percent of the sodium in the average American diet comes from processed foods. Frozen dinners are some of the worst offenders. It’s best to just steer clear of them (or know which of the best frozen foods aren’t so bad for you).

Get the New Book!

Want to lose 10, 20, even 30 pounds—all without dieting?! Get your copy of Eat This, Not That: The Best (& Worst) Foods in America!, and learn how to indulge smarter and lose weight fast!

8 Foods High in Water That Can Help Prevent Dehydration

You’ve no doubt heard the advice to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. But do you know where that advice for avoiding dehydration comes from, and if it’s still relevant? Sean Hashmi, MD, the regional physician director of weight management and clinical nutrition for Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, says it originally came from a recommendation from the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board in 1945. (1) “But people misread the statement,” Hashmi says. “The second part of the sentence said most of that water you get from food.”

That said, you still need to drink water during the day to avoid health risks like kidney stones. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine, or IOM) generally recommends ½ ounce (oz) to 1 oz of fluid, including water, daily for each pound of body weight. That means if you weigh 150 pounds, you’d need between about 9½ and 18¾ cups of fluid per day. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need more. (2)

The exact amount you need also depends on factors including age, gender, and activity level, says Rachel Lustgarten, RD, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.

The good news for those who have a hard time sipping H2O all day: The foods you eat play a big role in keeping you hydrated. Shreela Sharma, an associate professor and registered dietitian at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston, estimates about 20 percent of the body’s hydration needs come from foods. “These foods are not just hydrating, but also nutritious and provide various nutrients, including vitamins and fiber,” she says.

Another plus: You don’t have to overthink it. “If you are eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, this should not be hard,” says Julie Devinsky, RD, a clinical dietitian at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. To hit the mark, you can follow tried-and-true nutrition advice by aiming for two to three servings of fruit and five or more servings of veggies daily.

That said, some foods are more hydrating than others. “Foods that rehydrate are typically the ones that hold the most water,” says Garth Graham, MD, MPH, the president of the Aetna Foundation and a cardiologist based in Hartford, Connecticut.

Just keep in mind that the fruit or veggie will lose water if it’s cooked. “To optimize the hydration aspect of these foods, it’s best to eat them raw or minimally cooked,” Devinsky says. And for the best, most hydrating effect, enjoy these foods with a glass of water. “As much as it is important to eat your daily dose of fruits and vegetables, don’t use it as an excuse to skimp on water,” Devinsky says.

Q: How can we get my older mother to drink more water? She is susceptible to urinary tract infections and seems to be often dehydrated no matter what we do. We were also wondering if coffee and tea are okay, or should they be avoided to reduce dehydration?

A: Dehydration is indeed an important problem for older adults. It can be common even when it’s not hot outside.

Helping an older person increase her fluid intake, as you’re trying to do, is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of dehydration.

Now how to actually do this? Studies — and practical experience — suggest that the best approaches include:

  1. Frequently offering the older person a drink, preferably on a schedule,
  2. Offering beverages the person seems to prefer,
  3. Not expecting older adults to drink a large quantity at a single sitting,
  4. Addressing any continence issues that might be making the person reluctant to drink often.

But your question brings up other issues in my mind. Has frequent dehydration been confirmed? (Dehydration can be hard to correctly diagnose.) Have you been able to measure how much your mother drinks, and how does this amount compare to the recommended daily fluid intake for older adults?

Also, is the real goal to prevent or manage frequent urinary infections, and is increasing her hydration likely to achieve this?

So let’s review the basics of dehydration in older adults, and what’s known about helping older adults stay hydrated. I will then share some additional tips on helping your mother maintain hydration.

The Basics of Dehydration

What is dehydration and what causes it?

Dehydration means the body doesn’t have as much fluid within the cells and blood vessels as it should.

Normally, the body constantly gains fluid through what we eat and drink, and loses fluid through urination, sweating, and other bodily functions. But if we keep losing more fluid than we take in, we can become dehydrated.

If a person starts to become dehydrated, the body is designed to signal thirst to the brain. The kidneys are also supposed to start concentrating the urine, so that less water is lost that way.

Why are older adults at higher risk for dehydration?

Unfortunately, the body’s mechanisms meant to protect us from dehydration work less well as we age. Older adults have reduced thirst signals and also become less able to concentrate their urine.

Other factors that put older adults at risk include:

  • Chronic problems with urinary continence, which can make older adults reluctant to drink a lot of fluids
  • Memory problems, which can cause older adults to forget to drink often, or forget to ask others for something to drink
  • Mobility problems, which can make it harder for older adults to get something to drink
  • Living in nursing homes, because access to fluids often depends on the availability and attentiveness of staff
  • Swallowing difficulties

Dehydration can also be brought on by an acute illness or other event. Vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and infection are all problems that can cause people to lose a lot of fluid and become dehydrated. And of course, hot weather always increases the risk of dehydration.

Last but not least, older adults are more likely to be taking medications that increase the risk of dehydration, such as diuretic medications, which are often prescribed to treat high blood pressure or heart failure.

A UK study of older adults in residential care found that 46% had impending or current dehydration, as diagnosed by blood tests.

How is dehydration diagnosed?

For frail older adults, a simple preliminary check, if you’re concerned about dehydration, is to get the older person to drink some fluids and see if they perk up or improve noticeably. (This often happens within 5-10 minutes.)

This is not a clinically-proven method, but it’s easy to try. If drinking some fluids does noticeably improve things, that does suggest that the older person was mildly dehydrated.

For a truly accurate diagnosis in older adults, the most accurate way to diagnose dehydration is through laboratory testing of the blood. Dehydration generally causes abnormal laboratory results such as:

  • Elevated plasma serum osmolality: this measurement relates to how concentrated certain particles are in the blood plasma
  • Elevated creatinine and blood urea nitrogen: these tests relate to kidney function
  • Electrolyte imbalances, such as abnormal levels of blood sodium
  • Low urine sodium concentration (unless the person is on diuretics)

(Doctors often sub-classify dehydration based on whether blood sodium levels are high, normal, or low.)

Dehydration can also cause increased concentration of the urine — this is measured as the “specific gravity” on a dipstick urine test. However, this is not an accurate way to test for dehydration in older adults, since we tend to lose the ability to concentrate urine as we get older. This was confirmed by a 2016 study, which found that the diagnostic accuracy of urine dehydration tests in older adults is “too low to be useful.“

There are also a number of physical symptoms associated with dehydration. However, a 2015 study of older adults found that the presence or absence of dehydration symptoms is not an accurate way to diagnose dehydration.

Physical signs of dehydration may include:

  • dry mouth and/or dry skin in the armpit
  • high heartrate (usually over 100 beats per minute)
  • low systolic blood pressure
  • dizziness
  • weakness
  • delirium (new or worse-than-usual confusion)
  • sunken eyes
  • less frequent urination
  • dark-colored urine

But as noted above: the presence or absence of these physical signs are not reliable ways to detect dehydration. Furthermore, the physical symptoms above can easily be caused by health problems other than dehydration.

This study published in 2019 confirmed that commonly used symptoms do not accurately detect dehydration in frail older adults: Signs and Symptoms of Low-Intake Dehydration Do Not Work in Older Care Home Residents—DRIE Diagnostic Accuracy Study.

So if you are concerned about clinically significant dehydration — or about the symptoms above — blood tests results may be needed. A medical evaluation for possible dehydration should also include an interview and a physical examination.

What are the consequences of dehydration?

The consequences depend on how severe the dehydration is, and perhaps also on how long the dehydration has been going on.

In the short-term, dehydration can cause the physical symptoms listed above. Especially in older adults, weakness and dizziness can provoke falls. And in people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, even mild dehydration can cause noticeable worsening in confusion or thinking skills.

Dehydration also often causes the kidneys to work less well, and in severe cases may even cause acute kidney failure.

The consequences of frequent mild dehydration — meaning dehydration that would show up as abnormal laboratory tests but otherwise doesn’t cause obvious symptoms — are less clear.

Chronic mild dehydration can make constipation worse. Otherwise, a 2012 review found that the only health problem that has been consistently associated with low daily water intake is kidney stones.

A 2013 review on fluid intake and urinary system diseases concluded that it’s plausible that dehydration increases the risk of urinary tract infections, but not definitely proven.

Speaking of urinary tract infections (UTIs), if you are concerned about frequent bacteria in the urine, you should make sure this reflects real UTIs and not simply a sign of the older person’s bladder being colonized with bacteria.

This is a very common condition known as asymptomatic bacteriuria, and incorrectly diagnosing this as a UTI can lead to pointless overtreatment with antibiotics. (More on this issue below, or see Q&A: Why Urine Bacteria Doesn’t Mean a UTI Needs Antibiotics.)

How is dehydration treated?

The treatment of dehydration depends on:

  • Whether the dehydration appears to be mild, moderate, or severe
  • What type of electrolyte imbalances (such as high/low levels of sodium and potassium) appear on laboratory testing
  • If known, the cause of the dehydration

Mild dehydration can usually be treated by having the person take more fluids by mouth. Generally, it’s best to have the person drink something with some electrolytes, such as a commercial rehydration solution, a sports drink, juice, or even bouillon. But in most cases, even drinking water or tea will help.

Mildly dehydrated older adults will often perk up noticeably after they drink some fluids, usually within 5-10 minutes.

Moderate dehydration is often treated with intravenous hydration in urgent care, the emergency room, or even the hospital. Some nursing homes can also treat dehydration a subcutaneous infusion, which means providing fluid through a small IV needle placed into the skin of the belly or thigh. This is called hypodermoclysis, and this is actually safer and more comfortable for seniors than traditional IV hydration.

Severe dehydration may require additional intervention to support the kidneys, and sometimes even requires short-term dialysis.

How to prevent dehydration in older adults?

Experts generally recommend that older adults consume at least 1.7 liters of fluid per 24 hours. This corresponds to 57.5 fluid ounces, or 7.1 cups.

What are the best fluids to prevent dehydration?

I was unable to find research or guidelines clarifying which fluids are best to drink. This is probably because clinical research hasn’t compared different fluids to each other.

As to whether certain fluids are dehydrating: probably the main fluid to be concerned about in this respect is alcohol, which exerts a definite diuretic effect on people.

The effect of caffeine on causing people to lose excess water is debatable. Technically caffeine is a weak diuretic. But real-world studies suggest that people who are used to drinking coffee don’t experience much diuretic effect.

Now, caffeine may worsen overactive bladder symptoms, so there may be other reasons to be careful about fluids containing caffeine. But as best I can tell, coffee and tea are not proven to be particularly dehydrating in people who drink them regularly.

The safest approach would still be to drink decaffeinated drinks. But if an older person particularly loves her morning cup of (caffeinated) coffee, I’d say to consider accommodating her if at all possible.

How to help older adults to stay hydrated?

A 2015 review of nursing home interventions intended to reduce dehydration risk concluded that “the efficacy of many strategies remains unproven.” Still, here are some approaches that are reasonable to try:

  • Offer fluids often throughout the day; consider doing so on a schedule.
  • Offer smaller quantities of fluid more often; older adults may be reluctant to drink larger quantities less often.
  • Be sure to provide a beverage that is appealing to the older person.
  • See if the older person seems to prefer drinking through a straw.
  • Identify any continence concerns that may be making the older person reluctant to drink. Keeping a log of urination and incontinence episodes can help.
  • Consider a timed toileting approach, which means helping the older person get to the bathroom on a regular schedule. This can be very helpful for people with memory problems or mobility difficulties.
  • Track your efforts in a journal. You’ll want to track how much the person is drinking; be sure to note when you try something new to improve fluid intake.
  • Offer extra fluids when it’s hot, or when the person is ill.

Practical tips for family caregivers

Let’s now return to the issues brought up in the question.

Family caregivers are often concerned about whether an older person is drinking enough. Since dehydration is indeed very common among older adults, this concern if very important.

However, before expending a lot of energy trying to get your mother to drink more, I would encourage you to consider these four suggestions:

1.Measure how much your mother is actually drinking most days.

This can require a little extra effort. But it’s very helpful to get at least an estimate of how much the person drinks. This can confirm a family’s — or doctor’s — hunch that the person isn’t taking in enough fluid, and can help the care team figure out how much more fluid is required.

Again, the recommendation for older adults is to consume at least 1.7 liters/day, which corresponds to at least 57.5 fluid ounces. In the US, where a measuring cup = 8 ounces, this is equivalent to 7.1 cups/day.

Keep a journal to record how much fluid your older parent is drinking. It’s generally important to track anything you want to improve.

2. Confirm that your mother is, in fact, often dehydrated.

As noted above in the section on diagnosing dehydration: physical symptoms and urine tests are not enough to either diagnose dehydration or rule it out.

Instead, consider these two approaches to confirming clinical dehydration. One is to see if her energy and mental state perk up when she drinks more. The other is to talk to the doctor and request blood tests to confirm dehydration.

Now, you don’t necessarily want to request blood tests every time you suspect mild dehydration. But especially if your mother’s dehydration has never been confirmed by a serum osmolality test, it would probably be useful to do this at least once.

3. If frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a concern, learn about asymptomatic bacteriuria and try to determine whether these are real UTIs versus a colonized bladder.

Sometimes I’ve seen families hellbent on increasing hydration or taking other measures, because they are concerned about repeated or persisting urinary tract infections (UTIs).

But UTIs are a bit like dehydration. A UTI is a common problem in older adults and is potentially very serious. But it’s also easily misdiagnosed, even by professionals.

Sometimes, when an older person keeps being diagnosed with a UTI repeatedly, the problem is actually that the older person has asymptomatic bacteriuria. This is a very common condition in which an older person’s bladder becomes colonized with bacteria. It probably happens because people’s immune systems get weaker as they age.

So how is this different from a UTI? Both conditions will cause a positive urine culture, meaning that bacteria is in the urine. The main difference is that in asymptomatic bacteriuria, the older person doesn’t experience pain, inflammation, increased confusion, or other symptoms of infection.

In a young person, bacteria in the urine is very uncommon and almost always corresponds to a clinically significant infection. But in an older person, bacteria in the urine is common.

So you cannot diagnose a UTI in an older person just on the basis of a positive urine culture. Instead, the family and clinician must note other signs of infection, such as pain or delirium.

Families are often surprised to learn that clinical trials have repeatedly found that it is not helpful to treat asymptomatic bacteriuria, but it’s true. In fact, a 2015 study found that treating asymptomatic bacteriuria with antibiotics increased the likelihood of later having a real UTI, and that the real UTI was more likely to be antibiotic-resistant.

For more on this topic, see Q&A: Why Urine Bacteria Doesn’t Mean a UTI Needs Antibiotics.

4. Pay attention to figure out which fluids your mother prefers to drink and try scheduling frequent small drinks.

Ultimately, there’s no substitute for paying close attention, keeping track of your observations, and doing some trial and error to figure out what seems to improve things.

No doctor has a magic formula to get an older person to drink more. So identify the drinks your mother prefers, start tracking how much she drinks, and then start experimenting to figure out what works.

Usually, a combination of the following three approaches will improve fluid intake:

  • Offer a beverage the person likes,
  • Offer small-to-moderate quantities of the beverage on schedule,
  • Address continence issues.

Do you have any additional questions regarding the prevention of dehydration in older adults?

Post them below and I’ll see how I can help.

This article was reviewed and updated in June 2019.

Did you know that about two-thirds of your body is made up of water? That’s a lot! Even though it’s normal to lose some water every day, there may be times that you lose too much and become dehydrated. Read on for more information about dehydration.

What is dehydration?

Dehydration is the medical term for the condition that occurs when someone’s body loses more water than they’re taking in. When the body doesn’t have enough water, it can’t work properly. Mild dehydration doesn’t usually cause problems, but if it isn’t treated it can become severe dehydration, which is a medical emergency.

What causes dehydration?

Your body naturally loses some water every day, through urination (peeing), bowel movements, and sweating. However, factors that may cause you to lose too much water include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • High fever
  • Extreme sweating from intense physical activity or hot weather
  • Certain medicines such as “diuretics” work to remove extra fluid in the body

You can also become dehydrated from not drinking enough water. For example, if you have a sore throat or you feel sick, you might not take in as much fluid as you should. Even if you’re sick, it’s important to stay hydrated.

How do I know if I’m dehydrated?

Did you know that when you feel thirsty you’re actually already dehydrated? Dehydration usually starts with mild symptoms that get worse unless fluid/water is replaced. Other symptoms of dehydration include:

  • Urinating less often than usual, or passing urine that looks dark yellow or brown
  • Having a dry, sticky mouth or cracked lips
  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling dizzy or unsteady
  • Sunken eyes (your eyes look “sunken” in your face)

What should I do if I’m dehydrated?

If you’re dehydrated, the best thing to do is drink fluids such as water or sports drinks. Avoid caffeinated beverages and drinks with a lot of sugar in them, such as coffee, soda, and juice; these won’t help. You’ll know when your body is rehydrated when your urine looks clear, or light yellow in color.

If you develop more serious symptoms such as extreme thirst, confusion, light-headedness, dizziness, or rapid heartbeat, call your health care provider right away or go to the nearest emergency department. These may be signs of severe dehydration, which usually needs to be treated in a hospital.

Can I prevent dehydration?

Yes. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent dehydration:

  • Drink enough water every day (about 8-10 cups), even when you’re not sick.
  • If you are sick, make sure that you drink water even if you’re not feeling well. It’s extremely important to keep your body hydrated.
  • Make sure to drink extra fluids when the weather is hot and humid, because you’ll be losing water from your body as you sweat.

If you’re going to exercise or play sports, stick to the following hydration schedule:

When to Drink How Much to Drink
2 to 3 hours before exercising Drink 16 ounces of fluid
10 to 20 minutes before exercising Drink 8-10 ounces of fluid
While exercising Drink 4-6 ounces of fluid every 15-20 minutes
After exercising Drink at least 16-24 ounces of fluid (this amount may vary individually depending on intensity of exercise and heat/humidity)

I need to lose weight for a sports event and I’ve heard that “diuretic” medicines work. Can I use them?

If you’re an athlete (such as a wrestler), and you need to make a certain weight to compete in an event, taking diuretics or laxatives (medicines that cause increased urination and watery bowel movements) is not a good idea. Using these medicines can make you feel weak, and may cause serious problems such as changes in your heart rhythm. Anyone who exercises or plays sports should follow the hydration schedule listed above.

If you’re concerned about dehydration, here’s a tip on how to bring it up with your provider: “I sweat a lot, and after sports practice I feel really tired and my mouth is always dry. Is there anything I can do to prevent that?”

Staying hydrated is very important while you’re receiving breast cancer treatment. Experts say that drinking 64 to 96 ounces of water a day will keep you hydrated. That sounds like a lot, but it’s only about 8 to 12 glasses (8 ounces each) of water. And while this number has been questioned by some researchers, most doctors agree that most people don’t drink enough water. So aim for 8 glasses. If you’re having side effects such as diarrhea or vomiting because of your treatment, you may need to drink more than this. Talk to your doctor about how much water makes sense for you.

You shouldn’t rely on feeling thirsty to tell if you’re getting enough water. You may not feel thirsty until you’ve already lost quite a bit of water, so try to drink throughout the day. An easy way to tell if you’re getting enough water is to look at the color of your urine. If your urine is pale to clear, you’re probably getting enough water. If it’s dark, it’s more concentrated, which means you are becoming dehydrated. Try to increase the amount of water and other liquids you drink. (Multivitamins can sometimes darken urine, so keep that in mind if you’re taking one.)

If your treatment causes severe diarrhea or vomiting, you may become dehydrated. If you’re in a lot of pain, you may also eat and drink less, which also may cause dehydration. Fatigue can be one of the first signs of dehydration. Other signs are dry mouth, feeling dizzy or weak, trouble swallowing dry food, and dry skin or dry tongue. You also may be urinating very little or not at all.

Talk to your doctor immediately if you’re having any of these symptoms. Together, you can deal with the underlying causes of your dehydration.

Learn more about the causes of dehydration and steps you can take to prevent it.

Tips for staying hydrated:

  • Drink a lot. Water, pasteurized 100% fruit juices, milk, and broth are good food choices for staying hydrated while you’re in treatment. If you’re also trying to lose weight, keep in mind that juices have a lot of sugar and calories. You may want to drink water or seltzer instead (seltzer usually has no salt; club soda usually does).
  • Drink caffeine in moderation. Drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, colas, and some root beers, will increase your water intake. But caffeine acts as a diuretic, so it flushes water out of your system more than other drinks without caffeine. Don’t rely on caffeinated beverages as your only source of water.
  • Eat foods with high water content. Liquid in your solid food counts toward your daily total. Some fruits and vegetables are more than 90% water. Cantaloupe, grapefruit, strawberries, watermelon, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, sweet peppers, radishes, spinach, zucchini, and tomatoes are all at least 90% water. Soups, popsicles, water ice, and gelatins are also high in water.
  • Add some citrus to your water. If you don’t like drinking plain water, try adding lime, lemon, or orange slices to your water. You can also pour in a splash of fruit juice. Or try drinking carbonated water (known as club soda, seltzer, and fizzy water). Look for a brand WITHOUT added sugar or sodium.
  • Keep a glass of water close to you during the day and night to remind you to drink it.

Tips for managing dehydration:

  • Don’t drink too much at once. Sip fluids slowly, gradually drinking more and more.
  • Suck on ice chips to keep your lips and mouth moist.
  • Eat foods that have a lot of fluids, such as watermelon or cucumbers.
  • Fill a small cooler with clean ice and small bottles of water or juice and keep it near you so you can drink frequently.

Personal Quote

“Sometimes drinking just one glass of water after chemo felt like an impossible chore. But it kept me from becoming dehydrated.”

— Lydia Was this article helpful? /

Last modified on March 25, 2014 at 9:51 AM

8 foods to eat to beat dehydration

Summers have set in and when heat and humidity soar, it’s important to keep your body hydrated. The first thing one thinks of is to drink more water, besides that there are some foods in which water content is high that can be incorporated into one’s diet. These foods are also rich in nutrients that help build immunity and fight diseases.

  • Water intake -should be a minimum of 8 glasses a day. Besides that, 20% of water comes from solid foods especially fruits and vegetables
  • Cucumber– must add in your diet in the form daily salad. It has anti-inflammatory properties. One may add cucumber slices to water to make it alkaline. Also, cold cucumber soup too is a great idea in the summer season. Enclosed recipe below

  • Iceberg Lettuce – contains 95% water and a good hydrating base for the summer salad. It can also be replaced by darker greens like Spinach which is high in fibre, vitamin K and folat
  • Celery – contains folate, vitamin A, C, K and potassium. Besides high content of water, it is an alkaline food which neutralizes stomach acid and good to relieve from acidity and heartburn
  • Peppers – green, red or yellow contains a high amount of water and have antioxidant properties. Good to go in salads, tossed in vegetables or even used in sandwiches
  • Cauliflower – have 92 % water along with other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. It is packed with phytonutrients and vitamins which also help lower cholesterol and fight cancer
  • Watermelon– it is obvious it is filled with water and a rich source of lycopene which is an antioxidant present in red coloured fruits and vegetables.
  • Strawberries– all berries are good for hydration. Besides that packed with flavonoids which are good for cognitive function. A handful of strawberries blended in non-fat yoghurt make it a good food for post workout snack

Recipe for Cold Cucumber Soup:

Ingredients:

Chopped Cucumber 1no

Non-fat Yogurt 50 gms

Lemon juice 1 no

Onion 1 small

Garlic 3 cloves

Parsley ¼ cup

Dill ¼ cup

Olive Oil 1 tablespoon

Salt & Pepper

Method:

Step 1: In a blender, add chopped cucumber with the yoghurt, lemon juice, onion, garlic, dill, parsley and olive oil. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, refrigerate for at least 8 hours

Step 2: Season the soup, garnish with chopped onion, parsley and little olive oil before serving.

When heat and humidity soar, keeping your body hydrated matters more than ever. Did you know you can hydrate with what’s on your plate — not just what’s in your cup?

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

The following foods are heavy on the water content, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrient database. In several cases, they’re also full of nutrients that will help you fight disease. So eat up, and beat the heat with your fork.


  • 1. Cucumbers

    Hydrate and replenish your skin with fresh cucumbers. In addition to containing 95 percent water, cucumbers are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds that help remove waste from the body and reduce skin irritation. Preliminary research also suggests cucumbers promote anti-wrinkling and anti-aging activity. Find them at your farmers market; they’re in season from July to September.


  • 2. Celery

    Celery will satisfy your craving for crunch. It’s also tied with cucumbers and iceberg lettuce at 95 percent water by weight. You can feel good about eating celery because of its low calorie count and high value in vitamin K, folate and potassium.


  • 3. Iceberg lettuce

    The “ice” might as well be melted, since this type of lettuce contains 95 percent water. That makes it a good hydrating base for your summer salad. However, if you prefer the heart-healthy benefits of leafy greens instead, spinach is a good alternative at 91 percent water by weight.


  • 4. Zucchini

    Watch for fresh, in-season zucchini this summer. Like its relatives in the cucumber and melon families, this popular summer squash has a high water content — almost 95 percent. Better yet, zucchini packs in antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Those last two are especially important for eye health.


  • 5. Watermelon

    No surprise here — “water” is in the name, after all. Watermelon flesh contains 91 percent water. This summer treat also contains abundant lycopene, which can help protect cells from sun damage and improve your complexion.


  • 6. Strawberries

    They’re sweet enough you can eat them for dessert. But the benefits of strawberries go beyond flavor and 91 percent water content. They provide a rich source of flavonoids, compounds associated with improved cognitive function. For example, one study associated eating more berries with delayed cognitive aging of up to 2.5 years.


  • 7. Cauliflower

    Surprised? Well, cauliflower is actually 92 percent water by weight. It’s rich in vitamin C, vitamin K and other key essentials. Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables contain nutrients that may help lower cholesterol and lower cancer risk. Try it mashed as a substitute for mashed potatoes.

Brigid Titgemeier, MS, RDN, nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, contributed to this article.

Are there certain foods I should eat and avoid to help me stay hydrated?

“I know I can drink water to stay hydrated during the summer, but are there certain foods I should eat and avoid to help me stay hydrated?”

Sodium and protein are two nutrients that help you absorb fluids following exercise. During the summer it is easy to become dehydrated, even during short workouts. Therefore, it’s important to rehydrate immediately following any exercise with water, sodium and protein. The key is to include plenty of water with a balanced meal that includes salt, within about 30 minutes of finishing exercise.

While sodium is an important electrolyte, salty foods are often highly processed and contain unhealthful nutrients. After exercise is a time when excellent food selection will pay off. To get the most out of recovery foods, choose natural and unprocessed foods. Natural foods may not be high enough in sodium to impact rehydration, therefore the addition of sea salt to the meal will increase sodium content and enhance hydration. For example, scrambled eggs, with pico de gallo, corn tortillas, black beans and avocado sprinkled with sea salt would be a delicious, balanced recovery meal that contains all the necessary nutrients to re-hydrate following exercise and will facilitate hydration through the rest of the day. You can read more about naturally occurring sodium in a previous Ask A Nutritionist column.

Protein works with sodium to improve fluid retention in the post-workout period, but excessive dietary protein can actually worsen dehydration. Thus, a little goes a long way with protein. About 20 to 30 grams of protein can be absorbed from one meal, which is the amount of protein found in 3 eggs, 3 ounces of poultry or fish or about 3/4 block of extra firm tofu. While up to 30 grams of protein at one time, it takes much less to stimulate protein synthesis and to absorb fluids. So, include protein following workouts but don’t go crazy with it. You don’t need protein powder or protein bars to get what you need.

To maintain hydration, are there foods to avoid? Not really. There are a variety of foods that are said to act as diuretics, such as eggplant, celery or cranberry, but the effect of these foods on overall fluid balanced is minimal. There is no need to avoid any particular food in efforts of preventing dehydration.

Interestingly, water acts as a diuretic. As water intake increased, the amount of water is lost in urine also increases. In order to maintain optimal fluid balance, water is necessary but shouldn’t be over consumed, particularly without adequate sodium. Drink enough water throughout the day to maintain light colored urine, but avoid clear urine.

Please remember that the information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical or nutritional advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this article.

Hana A. Feeney, MS, RD is an open-minded, progressive dietitian that blends evidence based nutritional science with the principals of intuitive eating and cutting-edge functional medicine. Hana specializes in sport nutrition, digestive health, fertility, hormonal health and eating disorders. Visit www.NourishingRestuls.com to explore, read, cook and reach out!

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *