Staying properly hydrated is a life hack to being healthy. It's essential to your mind, body, and spirit in so many ways. Plus, summer is about to be in full swing, which means you need to keep your hydration levels up to par to deal with the unforgiving heat. Many blame dehydration on not guzzling enough water, when it actually could be caused by the foods you're eating. Studies show that over 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. That's an overwhelming amount of the U.S. population. Up to 60% of the adult body is water, so without hydration, our bodies won't be able to function properly.
We called on the experts to break down the foods that dehydrate us the most. Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, founder and director of Real Nutrition NYC, along with Jonathan Valdez, registered dietitian and owner of Genki Nutrition, share the foods that might be making you parched below.
"Keeping hydrated and drinking water is vital for the body. It gets rid of waste through the kidneys and sweat and bowel movements. It helps regulate your body temperature, lubricates joints, and protects tissues. You might be surprised to hear that salt isn't the only thing to look out for. "Foods that are very high in sodium are going to be dehydrating to the body," confirms Valdez. "It contains solutes, and once entered in the bloodstream, it will decrease the amount of volume of water. In the case of sodium, it will attach itself to sodium. The kidney will then discreet less water sending a signal to the brain to drink more water." Sugar, salt, and sodium-heavy foods may be throwing a wrench into your hydration equation. According to nutritionists, the below foods and beverages contain the most.
"Although it may seem hydrating, alcohol actually dehydrates you since it is a diuretic, which simply means it helps you to remove fluids," says Shapiro. "Yep, you can blame that for your hangover headache! And since you are actually drinking, you may not feel thirsty, so it can be a slippery slope."
"Sure they are delicious, but the high protein content and the high salt content, the type specifically used in cured meats, can dry out the body, causing dehydration," explains Shapiro. "Enjoy sporadically and in small amounts at a time."
"These drinks are high in sugar, which creates an acidic environment in your body, which causes your kidneys to work harder to eliminate the acid to create balance," says Shapiro. "In doing so, they remove fluid from the body, which is ultimately dehydrating you."
"This is also a diuretic like alcohol, but research shows that the caffeine in coffee may speed up the dehydrating factors as well," states Shapiro. "Hydrate before your caffeinate."
"Sodium is needed to create volume for foods and prevent fermentation of the dough and batter," explains Valdez. "Sodium triggers thirst response. In whole wheat products, fiber is needed with water to prevent constipation, which is dehydrating."
"Soda not only contains sugar, but it also has sodium, which triggers a dehydrating thirst response that makes you want to drink more," explains Valdez.
"Sports drinks also contain sodium that's needed to replenish athletes, but similar to sodas, they contain lots of sodium content, which can lead you to drink more."
"Salt is used to keep bacteria from growing in canned foods," confirms Valdez. "Foods like beans have a lot of sodium content, which can be decreased by washing them off. Or you can purchase the lower-sodium option."
"Use sparingly," suggests Shapiro. "These are super high in sodium, and too much can lead to dehydration, as salt tends to dry out the body."
As mentioned above, these nutritionists aren't saying that you should rule the above out of your diet entirely if you're dealing with dehydration. However, you should consume the above with lots and lots of water to keep your case of dehydration at an all-time low.