healthy eating for healthy aging

Hydrate with food

Hydrate with food

In warm weather our thoughts turn to hydration. Particularly if we’re over 60. The hormones that control fluid balance and thirst don’t work as effectively as we age, which means you can be dehydrated before you even feel thirsty. At which point you’re playing Catch Up with fluid intake.

We all know about drinking water. 8 glasses a day might be a useful reminder, although that amount doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone. Some people might need more, some less. Medications, body fat, body size, gender, physical activity, humidity and temperature all impact an individual’s needs, so it’s hard to make generalized recommendations.

Hydration Foods

Drinking water is fine, but don’t discount the fluid you get from foods. Luckily summer is a time for seasonal produce that has high water content. You can “eat your water” so to speak. Here’s a chart to compare some water-rich foods (in no particular order):

Food% water content
Watermelon91%
Cucumber, peeled96%
Cantaloupe melon90%
Tomatoes95%
Grapes80%
Raspberries86%
Blueberries84%
Peaches89%
Plums87%
Pears84%
Zucchini95%
Green Beans90%
Peppers, sweet green94%
Lettuce95%
Pineapple86%
Mango84%
Papaya88%
Oranges87%

Other Beverages

You aren’t limited to water for hydrating beverages. Juices have a high water content, generally 85-90+% water. Milk is around 88% water (yogurt is around 85%). Most carbonated beverages: 90%. Sports drinks: about 93%. The only catch with most of these beverages is potential sugar calorie content.

Coffee and tea? 99% water. There’s a popular misconception that coffee and black tea are dehydrating due to the caffeine content. In fact, this is not a concern. The bigger problem with coffee and tea is what we put in them: creamers, sweeteners, and flavoring syrups. Your morning cup or two of coffee helps with hydration.

The Exception

Alcoholic beverages are not hydrating. In fact, due to the way alcohol affects metabolism, it is dehydrating. Don’t rely on wine or fancy cocktails for hydration. If you’re imbibing, accompany your cocktail with a glass of water or club soda. It’s never a good idea to overindulge alcoholic beverages on a hot day. This is especially true for older people, who can’t metabolize alcohol as effectively as when they were younger.

Hydrating with high water foods is a Win-Win plan. Not only do you add variety to your fluid intake. You also consume the nutrients and fiber found naturally in those fruits and vegetables.