You’re Probably Drinking Too Much Water — Here’s Why

Humans get about 20 percent of their water from food.

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Staying hydrated is a Sisyphean task. The water bottle craze only exemplifies the never-ending demand for drinking enough water. While the axiom that everyone needs to drink 8 ounces of water 8 times a day has been debunked many times over, nobody will dispute that getting enough water is vital for everything from good bowel movements to proper body temperature and healthy joints.

But there’s a way to hydrate without lugging around a trendy Stanley tumbler. Tweaking the way you eat and adding certain foods accounts for more water than you might realize.

The benefits of eating your water

Most foods contain some amount of water, so our diet provides significant hydration. A 2010 paper, a 2007 study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, and a 2016 European Hydration Research Study all approximate that 20 to 25 percent of our water comes from our food. These other sources do double duty of hydrating and providing nutrients as critical as water.

Which foods are the most hydrating?

Fruits and veggies are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the best water bombs to enjoy, but the breakdown among them may be surprising.

Cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon (it’s literally in the name), lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach, pickles, and cooked squash all comprise 90 to 99 percent water. Following up are yogurt, apples, grapes, oranges, carrots, pears, pineapple, and cooked broccoli at 80 to 89 percent. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recommends piling half your plate with fruits and vegetables. This would help ensure that one-quarter to one-fifth of your water comes from your diet, plus all the dietary fiber that’s as important as hydration.

Cucumbers are 96 percent water, and iceberg lettuce beats out other leafy greens when it comes to H2O content. Tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, and mushrooms make the water-intensive grade, too.

Showcasing that truly everything has water, the list from the 2010 paper includes some more surprising fare. These foods aren’t hydrating per se but may contain more water than you thought. The list includes pizza, which is between 40 and 49 percent water. Ice cream is between 60 and 69 percent water, beating out other dairy like cheddar cheese and butter (30 to 39 percent and 10 to 19 percent, respectively). Basic oils and sugar don’t contain any water, so dressing your iceberg lettuce won’t add any hydration.

While a massive reusable water bottle might seem intimidating, eating your water helps break down the process into bite-sized chunks.

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