We all know how important it is to remain properly hydrated, but that doesn’t just mean ensuring we make regular trips to the water cooler and eat water-rich foods every day, it also means avoiding those foods or drinks which can counteract our good efforts and leave us dehydrated. And a popular myth to dispel right from the get-go is that a cup of coffee or tea is dehydrating. Although the caffeine inherent in both is dehydrating, it is offset by the water also contained in your cup so the odd drink will not adversely affect your system, in fact it counts towards the ‘eight glasses a day’ rule of thumb many of us follow.
So, what should you be wary of? To begin with avoid excessive consumption of diuretics – these are foods or drink that increase urination. Most notably amongst fluids is alcohol – beer, wine and spirits are all diuretic, and apart from the obvious unhealthy and potentially dangerous side-effects of overindulging, too much of it in your system literally wrings you dry. Which explains why you have that nasty ‘dry mouth’ feeling after a heavy night of excess and why you’d give all you own to wake up to a water cooler right next to your bed. Too much of certain foods can also play a role: mangoes, fennel, artichokes and asparagus are all diuretics, so avoid eating too many of these foods particularly if you’re not hydrating in other ways.
Next on the list is eating too much high-protein foods. While most healthy eating plans incorporate all food groups, there are some popular plans that encourage upping protein in favor of reducing carbohydrates. While this eating plan might work for some, one thing to keep in mind is that because protein is harder to digest than carbohydrate, our body not only has to work harder, but it also uses ‘more water to flush out the naturally-occurring nitrogen in protein’ – as noted by Monica Reinagel a board-certified, licensed nutritionist who features regularly on the Huffington Post.
And lastly there is salt and sugar to consider. Too much of either of these can also be detrimental in terms of remaining properly hydrated, not to mention the other more obvious health concerns like diabetes and high blood pressure. When you eat too much salt or sugar your body needs more and more water drawn into the intestine in an effort to dilute the excessive amounts you’ve eaten, which can ultimately leave you parched.
In short, if consumed in moderation, none of these foods or drinks will cause dehydration; but if consumed in excess, without increasing your trips to the water cooler to right the balance, dehydration is a concern. So, keep it mind the next time you’re inclined to overindulge on cocktails, steak and rich desserts.