Hydrate this Summer with Refreshing and Nourishing Fruits and Vegetables

Written by Lori Bumbaco, MS, RDN, CSO, LDN, Oncology Dietitian

Do you focus on hydration especially as the temperatures rise? Water in our body is essential for many important processes to take place. From our blood system carrying essential glucose, oxygen and nutrients to cells, to the kidneys getting rid of waste products we no longer want, fluid in the body is vital to allow these to occur. It also lubricates our joints and eyes, helps our digestive system function and keeps our skin healthy.   

Fluid is so important in the body that even when levels drop only slightly, we begin to feel the consequences. Low levels of fluid in the body can cause headaches, feelings of dizziness, lethargy, poor concentration and a dry mouth. Over the longer term, dehydration can cause constipation and can be associated with urinary tract infections and the formation of kidney stones. Making sure we drink enough fluids regularly is necessary to prevent these. 

Most adults require 1 ½ to 2 liters of fluid daily to support our body’s needs. This number can change if we are perspiring more or have significant loss from digestive illness.  The best indicator of good hydration is urine color, a pale straw-colored urine being a reliable indicator of good hydration. Darker colored urine is a sure sign that the body needs more fluid.   

Did you know that an estimated 20-30 of all the fluid we consume comes from food? 

Fruits and vegetables are a valuable contribution towards hydration, but the bonus is that we reap the benefits of cancer protection from the nutrients inside them! Most fruits and vegetables contain a significant amount of water, but some have more than others and worthy to consider if you are looking for an extra boost to your hydration. 

One of the highest water containing fruits is, you guessed it, watermelon! As the name suggests, watermelon is 92% water. This summer treat is full of cancer fighters, including lycopene. This carotenoid has been shown to be helpful as an antioxidant, and may be beneficial against prostate, breast, and lung cancers. 

Peaches are locally in season only during the summer months, which is the tastiest way to pursue sustainable eating. The water content of peaches is almost 90%, and like watermelon, they contain cancer fighters as well. Vitamins A and C are known to support our immune system, and peaches supply that to our diet.   

Besides fruit, vegetables also contain a significant amount of water to aid in hydration. Cucumbers are a whopping 96% water, ranking as one of the top hydrating choices.  They are great when added to water, for an infused hydrating drink.   

Lettuce sits on top of the hydrating vegetable list next to cucumber. Most varieties contain 96% water and are chock-full of nutrients as well. The darker the green, the more likely the lettuce contains carotenoids. These compounds serve many different protective roles in a cancer fighting diet. Enjoy different varieties depending on your recipe and quench your thirst at the same time! 

When reaching for hydrating beverages, there is no question that water is the top choice for providing the fluid our body needs for optimal wellness. Adding seasonal fruits and vegetables can be another way to enhance your cancer protective diet while providing ample fluid for hydration.