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We all know that drinking sufficient amounts of water is critical to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and more trips to the bathroom, but how exactly do high water content foods play into the daily pee-athon?
Over the past few months, I have been making a conscious effort to drink more water. My goal is to finish off my two 32oz stainless steel bottles that I have chilling in the fridge. My morning routine is pretty simple. A protein shake for breakfast, one cup of coffee, and then I switch to drinking water for the rest of the day.
Of course the more water we take in, the more that needs to come out, so after much trial and error, I realized that I needed to not drink water after 8:30 PM during the week, and 9:30 PM on the weekend, to ensure a restful nights sleep, but it seems some dietary changes, an increase in cucumbers with dinner, has thrown a monkey wrench of sorts into that plan.
While it’s a common occurrence for me to be roused from a deep slumber by nightly hot flashes, it seems like the Creamy Cucumber Salad I chose to experiment with brought with it unexpected side effects. While multiple nightly visits to the bathroom seemed like it could just be a fluke, when the same thing happened to both my husband and I on the second night, I couldn’t help but wonder if high water content foods do in fact make you pee more.
Top High Water Content Foods
If you have ever tried to grow cucumbers in your backyard garden, you probably know that they crave water to grow. Cucumbers are predominately made up of water, with a total percentage of 96.7%.
Cucumbers are low in calories, and a good source of potassium, magnesium and Vitamin K. Diets high in Vitamin K help the body form blood clots. This is highly beneficial as it helps to prevent excessive bleeding from tissue damage, like cuts. Vitamin K also helps to feed proteins needed for bone health.
They are also a source of antioxidants, widely known to help decrease the chance of cellular damage from free radicals. The seeds in Cucumbers have been found to help fight constipation. Cucumbers also have a natural cooling effect on the body, making them the perfect ingredient for summer meals.
The side effects of cucumbers are relatively mild, but some may suffer from an allergic reaction known as oral allergy syndrome. Symptoms are swelling of the lips and tongue, in addition to irritation to the gums or eyes. This reaction occurs when the body incorrectly interprets cucumbers as an allergen and responds to that allergen. A common solution to this would be to cook the cucumbers prior to eating, as the cooking process changes the protein makeup, decreasing the chance of an allergic reaction.
Rare side effects, like toxicity, renal issues, high potassium, can occur when cucumbers are eaten in very high quantities. Cucumber seeds are a source of Cucurbitin, known to have diuretic properties. Too many of these seeds could potentially cause a loss of too much fluid, potentially resulting in an electrolyte imbalance. This is easily remedied by only eating cucumbers in moderation.
Iceberg Lettuce is nearly tied with Cucumbers for water content. It too is made up of mostly water, with a total water content of 95.6%.
This crisp leafy green has commonly been shunned, in favor of the darker leafy greens like spinach, or romaine lettuce. While it may not contain as many nutrients as it’s leafy green counterparts, Iceberg Lettuce is nearly calorie-free, and a great source of fiber.
Fiber is highly beneficial to maintaining a healthy digestive tract, which can help protect the body against colorectal cancer. The fiber in Iceberg Lettuce also helps to protect against cardiovascular disease due to its ability to bind with cholesterol-rich bile acids, and assists the body in excreting these acids.
Iceberg Lettuce has also been found to be a good source of Phenolic compounds, a source of antioxidants. It is also a good source of Vitamin K, which is critical to help in blood clotting.
The most common side effect of Iceberg Lettuce is they are a source of high pesticide residue. You can remedy this by swapping conventionally grown Iceberg Lettuce for organic whenever possible.
Carotenodermia, although very rare, can only occur after eating large quantities of Iceberg Lettuce. The cause is an excess of beta-carotene in the body and manifests itself in a yellowing of the skin. Most commonly associated with eating too many carrots.
Celery is a healthy snacking option, think celery slathered with peanut butter, due to it being a great source of fiber, and very low in calories. Only six calories per stalk. Celery is also a great source of water, with a water content percentage of 95.4%. Celery is an excellent source for those on a diet as it helps fill you up while eliminating unhealthy snack cravings.
It is an excellent source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K, potassium, and a good source of folate. Helping to protect against heart disease, while reducing your potential risk for osteoporosis and certain cancers. Celery is also a natural remedy for acid reflux and heartburn by neutralizing stomach acid. Making it the perfect alternative to over the counter remedies.
The risks associated with Celery are quite rare, but they are still important to note. Celery is one of a small group of foods that can cause severe allergic reactions, such as anaphylactic shock.
Also, important to note, is that Celery is a source of high levels of residual pesticides. Excessive pesticides in the body can cause toxicity that can manifest itself in the brain and nervous system problems, hormonal issues, and increased cancer risks. Like with other high water content foods on this list, this is easily remedied by choosing organic celery over conventional growing methods.
Like many other foods on our list, Radishes are a great source of Vitamin C and contain a water percentage of 95%. The antioxidant, Vitamin C, helps the body protect against cell damage from environmental toxins, aging, and unhealthy lifestyle choices. It also boosts collagen production for healthy skin and blood vessels.
In addition to Vitamin C, Radishes also contain Potassium, Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin K, just to name a few. Radishes are classified as a cruciferous vegetable, and have been studied to be beneficial to decreasing your cancer risk.
Radishes are high in fiber, which helps to support healthy digestion by preventing unhealthy toxins from building up in the intestinal tract. There have also been studies documenting that fiber can help manage blood sugar, in addition to lowering cholesterol. They are also a natural antifungal, which can help reduce the occurrence of oral or vaginal yeast infections.
Side effects of Radishes are rare, and tend to only affect those who may suffer from impaired thyroid function. Ingestion of too many Radishes can aggravate the condition.
Radishes can also be a source for heavy metals, as they are efficient at absorbing metals like nickel, and cadmium from the soil via it’s roots. High heavy metal levels in the body can cause liver, kidney, heart and lung damage, so opt for Organic Radishes whenever possible.
Best known as a good source of Lycopene, Tomatoes are also a high source of water, with a water content of 94% .
In addition to Lycopene, which can help protect the eye from light damage, they are a good source of Vitamin C, in the raw form. Vitamin C is good for your skin, and helps to repair skin damage, in addition to providing you with a healthy “glow”. Tomatoes are also known as a natural acne treatment.
Like other foods on our list, Tomatoes are also high in antioxidants, that can help with weight loss. They are also low in calories, which can aid in weight loss. Tomatoes can also help you decrease your risk for certain cancers and heart disease.
Tomatoes are also a good source of Potassium, Folate, and Vitamin K. This is beneficial for prevention of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure regulation, bone health, and the body’s ability to clot. Folate is also beneficial to tissue growth and cell function.
Side effect with Tomatoes can vary. Tomatoes are high in malic and citric acids, which can cause the body to produce excessive amount of gastric acid, resulting in heartburn and acid reflux. There is also a risk of urinary issues due to the high acid content.
Excessive consumption of Tomatoes can cause side effects like Lycopenodermia, which is an orange discoloration of the skin. This is more commonly associated with carrots, and you would need diet primarily focused on Tomatoes, in order to achieve the levels needed for this to occur.
Other side effects can include Migraines which can easily be remedied by dietary changes, mostly by not consuming Tomatoes in excess. Body Aches can also occur, and are the result of the immune system reacting to the proteins that Tomatoes contain. This causes the body to release histamines, which can cause swelling in the joints, resulting in pain. The high uric acid levels can cause gout, in addition to arthritic symptoms.
A lesser known side effect can come in the form of allergic reactions. The symptoms can vary from mild, to severe, think anaphylaxis. Depending on where you fall on the allergy spectrum, limiting Tomatoes to completely avoiding them all together may be in order.
Bell Peppers, specifically the green ones, are a high source of water, 93.9% to be exact. Their yellow and red counterparts are slightly lower with a 95% water percentage.
These peppers are a great source of carotenoid antioxidants, documented to help reduce the risk of eye diseases and certain cancers. They are a good source of fiber, in addition to Vitamin B, Vitamin C and Potassium. Bell Peppers, specifically the red ones, are one of the highest sources of Vitamin C, which is beneficial to the immune system by protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals. It also helps support bone health, and iron absorption.
Bell Peppers are low in calories, allowing you to snack to your heart’s content without guilt.
There are limited, to no side effects with Bell Peppers. Allergic reactions can occur, in addition to other symptoms caused as a result of a sensitivity to foods in the nightshade family.
Based on the name alone, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Watermelon has one of the highest percentages of water, coming in at 91.5% to be exact. This high water content causes you to feel full, a huge benefit if you are trying to lose weight. When you feel fuller for longer, you are less likely to want to snack on unhealthy treats, like rading the vending machine, or cookie jar. It is also high in fiber which helps your digestive system function at it’s best. A win, win for weight loss.
Watermelon is also a great source of healthy vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Potassium, and Magnesium, and Vitamins B1, B5 and B6. It is also a great source of lycopene, beta-carotene, and citrulline.
For those not already aware, Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is critical to protecting your cells from free radicals. Lycopene is another antioxidant that gives this fruit its red color, most commonly associated with tomatoes. It can help reduce your risk of cancer, and diabetes.
It is also considered a low-calorie food, making it a great snack time food, especially during the summer months.
Potential side effects of too much Watermelon in the diet can range from digestive disturbances, like nausea, diarrhea, gas, and indigestion. To potentially more severe issues, like allergic reactions, or cardiovascular issues in people with kidney problems, due to high potassium content.
Similar to Watermelon, Strawberries are high in water, and fiber. These tasty little fruits are 91% water, they are also a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Strawberries are rich in Vitamin C, Potassium, and folic acid. They are a good source of quercetin, a flavonoid known as a natural anti-inflamatory.
Strawberries are high in polyphenols, which can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Additional antioxidants, like kaempferol, anthocyanins, and previously mentioned quercetin have been shown to decrease the risk of blood clots associated with strokes. They also help to fight against free radicals, by cutting down on inflammation and discouraging tumor growth.
One concern with Strawberries is they fall on the Dirty Dozen list. What does this mean exactly? They are a high source of pesticides, which can easily be remedied by sourcing organic strawberries over conventionally grown produce.
Individuals on beta-blockers should eat Strawberries in moderation, as too much can potentially increase the amount of potassium in the blood. There is also a potential for harm in people whose with kidney problems.
Benefits of High Water Content Foods
It has long been known that we need to drink approximately eight glasses of water each day in order to maintain proper hydration levels. While some can’t get enough of it, others may dislike the taste of water, preventing them from drinking as much as they should in a given day.
Water is critical to the body’s metabolic process, and high water content foods are a great alternative to keeping the body hydrated. Adding these foods to your diet are beneficial to weight loss, as they take up more room in your stomach, making you feel full for longer periods. This helps to decrease those mid-meal cravings for unhealthy foods, aiding in weight loss.
Fruits and Vegetables are most commonly known for their high water content. They are also a source of a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and bioflavonoids. These foods can help slow signs of aging, protect against a variety of diseases while being beneficial to the heart.
Many are high in fiber, which is critical to digestive health. Water is also critical to brain health.
Potential Side Effects
The Side Effects associated with foods with high amounts of water are nominal, to non-existent, when eaten in moderation.
Excessive quantities of certain fruits and vegetables, like Tomatoes and Iceberg Lettuce, can cause the skin to turn orange due to an excessive amount of lycopene from tomatoes, and beta-carotene in lettuce.
It is important to note that large quantities of water can result in something called hyponatremia. This occurs when the sodium in the blood becomes too diluted. Common symptoms can include headaches, nausea, confusion, and bloating. An easy way to remedy this is to only drink when you’re thirsty. Those who work out in the heat, and hot sun may need to consume more water than those in a climate controlled office. It is also important to remember that both water and water rich foods contribute to your daily water intake.
So, do high water content foods really make you pee more? The answer is yes. While you are not drinking it, foods that are made up of mostly water, do in fact add to your total daily water intake.
Evidently the cucumber salad side dish I had chosen to add to our evening meal, may have had a bit more water content than I had ever expected. Since Cucumbers are almost 97% water. Guess that explains why I found myself waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, when my normal routine of finishing my second 32oz bottle of water before bed, did not result in this.
I definitely plan to keep Cucumbers, and many other water-rich foods in my diet, but in moderation. The benefits, well outweigh the risks. I just need to plan a little better in the future to avoid the nightly disturbance that these foods can cause.
What are your thoughts on High Water Content Foods? Please feel free to leave a comment or question in the comments below.