Image Credit: iStock

In what seems like a blink of an eye, the beautiful winter mornings in Dubai have been swapped for blistering 31 degree heat. The fog has lifted and bright sunshine blinds your eye when you wake up in the morning. This is just the precursor for the coming summer months when temperatures will skyrocket.

During summers here, temperatures rise beyond 40°C. It is the time of the year when people are most at risk of heat stroke and dehydration. It is important to cover up, stay indoors in the middle of the day and drink as much water as possible. 

How does water help the body?

It is essential to stay hydrated irrespective of the weather. However, in summers, since the body loses more water than usual, it is necessary to take extra care regarding one’s water or fluid intake. “Fluids carry nutrients to your cells, flush bacteria from your bladder, maintains fluidity of your joints and prevent constipation,” explains Dr Wafaa Ayesh, Director of Clinical Nutrition, DHA.

“Dehydration can have a noticeable effect if you lose as little as 2 per cent of your body’s water content. Fluid balance is crucial to staying healthy and maintaining the function of every system in your body, which includes your heart, brain and muscles.” 

Our body is composed of 60 per cent water. Drinking adequate water helps in regulating body temperature; eliminates waste through urination, sweating, and bowel movements, enhances digestion, improves the elasticity of the skin, lubricates and cushions your joints and protects organs and tissues. In short, it is essential for normal functioning of the body.

Water is almost always your best hydrating beverage but you also don’t want to over hydrate as it can water down electrolytes. It’s important to remember that some beverages can be dehydrating if taken in high amount. While hydrating drinks tend to have a dilute amount of carbohydrate, salt and potassium, rehydration drinks will tend to have about 6g carb per 600ml and a small amount of salt. Yet, no other dietary strategies enjoy the reputation of proven performance and health promoting benefits as the consumption of water.

Drinking 8 glasses of water a day 

“Fluids from all sources aids the flow of nutrition in and out to keep the bodies chemistry and electrical circuitry in balance,” explains Stephanie Karl, Clinical Nutritionist at Emirates Integra. “In addition, fluid balance allows the body to filter appropriately and detox what is not needed via stool, sweat and urine. The summer months tend to have added stress components from both inside habits exposed to AC and outside where we need to consider sweat loss.”

During summer, exercising needs to be well planned and accommodated for water losses. Drinking 8 x 250ml or 2 litres of water per day is a bit of a guesstimate and includes fluid from all sources. “If you are exercising, it is recommended that you still aim for 2 liters per day plus an extra 250ml per half hour depending on the heat. In the UAE, I would tend to double this and add some sports drink to help keep the water gradient drawing fluid into the body,” advises Stephanie. 

15 hydrating foods

“Besides water there are certain fruits and vegetables that can also fulfill your fluid requirements and provides you with vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein. Foods with rich water content contain electrolytes, which help to keep your body’s fluids balanced,” points out Zeina Younes, Clinical Diabetes Dietitian Specialist at the Dubai Diabetes Centre, Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

1.Iceberg lettuce

It has the highest water content of any lettuce at 96%. It is also cholesterol and sodium free; followed by butter head, green leaf and romaine varieties.

2. Celery

High in water with 95% water content, it is also low in calories and helps in curbing appetite. In addition, celery contains foliate and the vitamins A, C, and K.

3. Tomatoes

They are also rich in lycopene, a cancer fighting antioxidant.

4. Green peppers

They have a higher water content than their red and yellow counterparts at 92% and contain antioxidants such as Vitamin C, thiamine, Vitamin B6 and folic acid.

6. Radishes

They are filled with antioxidants such as catechins (which are found in green teas).

7. Cauliflower

It is rich in vitamins and phytonutrients and has been shown to have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels and on lowering risk of certain cancers.

8. Watermelon

It has a high water content, contains readily available glucose and potassium and is also rich in the antioxidant lycopene.

9. Spinach

The leafy green is made up of 92% water, and is also rich in lutein, potassium, fibre, and brain-boosting foliate. Moreover, one cup of spinach leaves contains 15% of your daily requirements for vitamin E (which is an important antioxidant for fighting free radicals).

10. Grapefruit

Reported to have a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels.

11. Broccoli

Rich in fibre, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, broccoli is also the only cruciferous vegetable containing a significant amount of sulforaphane, a potent compound that boosts the body’s protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals.

12. Berries

Strawberries contain 92% water followed by raspberries and blueberries that hold around 85% water, while blackberries are only slightly better at 88.2%

13. Baby carrots

Contain 90.4% water, more water than full sized carrots. The ready-to-eat convenience factor is hard to top, as well.

14. Cantaloupe

Contains 90.2% water and also provides 100% of the daily-recommended intake of vitamin A and C.

15. Star fruit

It is also rich in antioxidants, such as epicatechin, which is a heart-healthy compound found in dark chocolate and green tea. It is high in oxalic acid though and as such, it is recommended that patients with kidney problems avoid its intake.