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8 Foods and Drinks That Are Secretly Dehydrating You—and What To Eat Instead

Emily Laurence

Emily LaurenceJuly 21, 2020

Food can be… confusing. Should you be avoiding gluten at all costs? Gobbling up avocados as fast as humanly possible? Well+Good's nutrition experts are setting the story straight when it comes to food, cutting through the hype and hand-wringing and getting you the most comprehensive information on what you should (and maybe shouldn't) put in that body of yours. See All

We all know that watermelon is hydrating, but what about the foods that are secretly sucking you dry? Here’s what to know about dehydrating foods. 

For the vast majority of the U.S., July is the hottest month of the entire year. With heat indexes in many states reaching the triple digits, the temps are enough to make anyone want to submerge their body in a kiddie pool until September.

When it’s this hot, hydration is extra important. Drinking enough water is wellness 101, but what you might not know is that that there are some foods that can work against you, actually causing you to be more dehydrated. It’s a truth bomb registered dietitian and The Better Period Food Solution author Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, drops in the latest episode of You Versus Food.

“Proper hydration is important for digestion, nutrient absorption, nutrient delivery throughout the body, joint lubrication, body temperature regulation, and proper organ functioning,” Beckerman says. It’s good for your mental health, too. Not drinking enough H20 can cause moodiness and mess with your concentration.

So, about those dehydrating foods. “Water follows salt, meaning when sodium is absorbed from the G.I. tract into the bloodstream, it takes water with it,” Beckerman says. “To maintain proper hydration and to keep your system balanced in homeostasis, avoid foods that are high in both salt and sugar.” This is because salt and sugar suck up water, leaving less to be utilized by the body.

Need some examples? Both deli meats and fried foods are both dehydrating foods. That’s why you probably feel thirsty after eating them. Something that may surprise you is that eating too much protein can actually be dehydrating, too. “Overdoing it on the protein may cause disfunction in the kidneys in the way they process water,” Beckerman explains. The more you know.

On the flip-side, some foods can actually hydrate the body. “Food contributes to about 20 percent of total water intake,” Beckerman says. Watch the video above to learn more about dehydrating foods and drinks (including a few more to be aware of) and to see six foods can work in your favor.

Want more healthy eating tips? Find out what to eat to lower inflammation and to boost gut health.

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