Summer is officially winding down, but this heat doesn’t want to budge! Although cooler weather is in sight, it’s still important to pay attention to staying properly hydrated. And the reality is that the benefits of hydration will carry you into the fall and winter months. Your body needs proper hydration year-round. Read on for the benefits of staying hydrated and tips to help you with healthy hydration habits.
Benefits of staying hydrated
Have you ever felt dizzy, moody, tired, and a little anxious on days when you’ve been a bit slack with drinking enough water? What a lot of people don’t realize is the vital role that water plays in our bodies. For instance, hydration is needed to stay energized and focused, it promotes better well-being, and it’s been shown to improve mood.
We also rely on water for regulating body temperature (something we need in extreme heat), digestion, absorption, and transportation of nutrients around the body, lessening the workload on our kidneys and liver, and lubricating the joints.
So the next time you’re not feeling 100% yourself, take a second to consider if you've had enough water throughout the day!
Tips for staying hydrated
If you find it challenging to meet your fluid needs by drinking water, I have some simple tips for staying hydrated without feeling like you're drinking liters of water all day.
1. Focus on hydrating fruits and vegetables. Most people under consume these gems, so this tactic does double duty! Some of the most hydrating produce include:
2. Avoid excess alcohol. Another top hydration tip is to sub in a mocktail for your cocktail. However, I’d suggest making these low-sugar drinks, which you can easily do using my insanely tasty Pineapple and Watermelon Agua Fresca recipes. (Grab the recipes below).
3. Set reminders. Tech can help you stay hydrated! Simply set your alarm or phone reminder to go off at least four times daily. During each interval, drink at least 16 ounces of fluid.
4. Use a water bottle to remind you. This low-tech option can help you remember to drink more. Fill up a big water bottle (such as my fave Hydro Flask), put it on your desk in the morning, and refill and repeat during the afternoon. Combine this strategy with drinking water at each of your meals, and you should be in good shape with your fluids!
5. Make your fluids festive. There are so many ways to make water more enticing. For instance, add bubbles! Naturally-flavored seltzer is a great low-sugar drink. It actually has no sugar, but watch out for artificial sweeteners. If you’d like, add a splash of 100% fruit juice or make ice cubes using 100% fruit juice. Then add them to your water or seltzer for a refreshing flavor. You could even use my Pineapple or Watermelon Agua Fresca recipes to make ice cubes!
Watermelon (aka The Nutrient Powerhouse)
Let’s take a sec to discuss watermelon, the star ingredient in my watermelon agua fresca. Watermelon is an incredibly hydrating fruit. It boasts an impressive 92% water content, and the water you get when you eat watermelon contributes to your daily fluid needs.
Watermelon’s water content isn’t the only thing going for it. One cup of watermelon provides 13% of your daily vitamin C requirements and 11% of your daily folate needs. Both nutrients support immune function, while vitamin C also supports skin health. Watermelon is also an excellent option for anyone looking for a low-calorie and low-sugar fruit; there are only 45 calories and 9 grams of sugar per cup of watermelon.
Health Benefits of Watermelon
If you’re planning on getting in a strenuous workout, watermelon is a great food to include in your pre-workout meal or snack. That’s because watermelon contains the compound L-citrulline, which is known for reducing muscle stiffness post-workout. Simply put, L-citrulline promotes the release of nitric oxide in the body, a compound that dilates (or widens) your blood vessels. This improves blood flow and oxygen supply to your muscles during a workout. In other words, this metabolic process encourages hastened muscle recovery and repair.
And if all these health benefits aren’t convincing enough, watermelon is one of the richest food sources of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene offers many benefits, but the one I want to note is its role in skin health. The antioxidant capacity of Lycopene helps counteract the damaging effects of free radicals, which essentially can protect our skin from sun damage. So, the combination of lycopene, the high water content, and the high amount of vitamin C in watermelon (hello, collagen production!) means you have all you need for healthy and younger-looking skin. Who would say no to that?!
Health Benefits of Pineapple
There’s a lot to be said about the health benefits of pineapple. Let me start by mentioning that per cup of pineapple, there are only 75 calories, and, like watermelon, it has a high water content–in this case, 87%. Pineapple is also packed with nutrients like Vitamin C, fiber, B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, B6, and folate), and manganese (100% of the DV for manganese per cup).
Pineapple is also known for its bromelain content. If this is the first time you’ve ever heard of bromelain, it is an enzyme that plays a role in fighting inflammation and pain in the body. Moreover, bromelain is thought to improve digestion.
Pineapple is a great fruit choice for anyone fighting inflammation–in recovery after surgery or for post-workout recovery to heal strained muscles. In addition, its fiber content supports gut health and increases satiety, so you feel full for longer periods. This may be beneficial for anyone looking to lose weight.
The bottom line is that watermelon and pineapple are great, nutritious choices that also help with hydration. So now, let me go ahead and share my low-sugar Pineapple and Watermelon Agua Fresca recipes!
Low sugar drinks
You probably know me too well by now. In true Samantha style, I’ve steered away slightly from the traditional high-added sugar versions of agua frescas and created my own recipes to make a low-added sugar drink! Plus, to ensure that these drinks are both refreshing and hydrating, I’ve chosen two of my favorite hydrating fruits, watermelon and pineapple. That’s right! I am sharing a low-sugar Watermelon Agua Fresca recipe and a low-sugar Pineapple Agua Fresca. These are perfect anytime you want the benefits of hydration but need a break from water. Or, add a low-sugar Agua Fresca to your summer mocktail lineup.
Low- Sugar Pineapple Agua Fresca
Recipe (serves 2)
2 cups fresh pineapple
1.5 cups cold water
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup shredded/ desiccated coconut
Mint to garnish
Blend and serve. Enjoy!
Low- Sugar Watermelon Agua Fresca
Recipe (serves 2)
2 cups fresh watermelon
¼ cup fresh mint
1.5 cups water
Juice of a lime
Blend and serve. Enjoy!
Ingredient Swaps + Substitutions
What I love about these recipes is how versatile they are! There are no wrong swaps and substitutions. You can mix and match depending on what fruit you have available.
Pineapple and watermelon. Try using other hydrating fruit like strawberries, cantaloupe, or peaches.
Water. Coconut water is also a great option for extra electrolytes
Mint. If you’re not a mint fan, you could also try thyme, rosemary, or basil
Tips + Tricks
Pour your agua fresca into ice-cream molds and make frozen agua fresca popsicles.
Add a splash of spirits (like vodka, gin, or rum) and put Pineapple or Watermelon Agua Fresca on your next cocktail menu.
Use coconut milk/cream in the Pineapple Agua Fresca to turn it into a dessert drink.
Pour your agua fresca into ice cube trays and add the ice cubes to still or sparkling water. This makes a delicious low-sugar drink!