The Best Foods and Drinks for Staying Hydrated and Healthy

With this unbearable heat wave hitting the UK, you should be looking for ways to avoid dehydration and heat strokes. 

What we eat and drink plays a very important role in the level of hydration.

Here are the best foods and drinks for staying hydrated and healthy during this scorching weather – as well as those to avoid from the experts at Forbes Advisor and qualified nutritionist Abi Roberts.

What are the top 5 dehydrating foods?

1. Asparagus

Surprisingly, asparagus is one of the least hydrating foods. This is because it is a natural diuretic which rids the body of excess fluid — meaning you need to wee more and you lose the fluid that you consume. Diuretics also help your body to get rid of salt, so are useful for the body, but should be consumed in moderation.

2. Salty snacks

The best-known dehydrating food is salty snacks — with pork scratchings being up there with the saltiest snacks. Too much salt wreaks havoc on the kidneys, so limiting salt intake is important for overall health.

3. Bread

Bread, although not terribly high in salt per slice, is one of the most common reasons behind people having too much salt in their diet. Bread is often used at all mealtimes and even for snacks, so can add up to a high salt intake. Limiting the amount of bread you eat will help reduce the sneaky salt that you didn’t even know you were consuming.

4. Cured meats

Cured meats are often heavily coated in salt, with gammon being a particular offender. The kidneys overcompensate when there is too much salt in the bloodstream, and pull water from elsewhere in the body, leading to dehydration. Make sure to drink plenty of water if you are indulging in a little antipasti this summer.

5. Sugar

Sugar, sugar, sugar. The list of reasons why we should limit our intake is endless. When you consume sugar, the kidneys react similarly to when they encounter salt and pull water from other parts of the body, as the kidneys don’t want excess sugar in your bloodstream.

What are the top 5 dehydrating drinks?

1. Caffeine 

Caffeine is naturally dehydrating, meaning high caffeine drinks (even when mixed with water) can end up dehydrating you or neutralising the hydration from the water content. Fizzy drinks often contain caffeine as well as high sugar content, making them one of the least hydrating beverage options.

2. Alcohol 

Alcohol is dehydrating — and the higher the alcohol content, the more dehydrating the drink. Alcohol removes water from the tissues in your body, which is why it’s common to feel like a shriveled-up prune after a night of drinking. Drinking spirits straight (without mixers)  is most dehydrating, with low-alcoholic beers are the least dehydrating.

3. Hot chocolate 

Hot chocolate can be very dehydrating due to its high sugar content. Often, it is packed with more sugar than fizzy drinks, and sometimes combined with high-fat milk for flavour. Opting for a low sugar and water-based hot chocolate makes it easier to stay hydrated.

4. Energy drinks

Energy drinks are often packed with caffeine — which is a tool to boost energy levels, but not so great for hydration. The hugely increased caffeine content along with often a lot of sugar makes energy drinks dehydrating.

5. Smoothies

Smoothies aren’t great for hydration, even though the fruit and veg content is often full of water. When you combine lots of fruit and veg and blend it, the sugars are released which makes it far less hydrating. When the sugar is contained within the fruit or veg, it can digest through your body more slowly.

What are the top 5 most hydrating foods? 

Fruit and vegetables have the highest water content of any food.

1. Cucumber

Cucumber is hugely water-based, coming in at 96% water. Along with antioxidant properties, cucumber also contains vitamins A, C and K, manganese, magnesium, and potassium making it an extremely nutritious option. As well as this, there is an average of 30 calories in an entire cucumber, making it a low-calorie snack that can boost your hydration levels.

2. Iceberg lettuce

Iceberg lettuce joins cucumber in being extremely hydrating — also at 96% water. It also contains Vitamins A, C and K, potassium, and magnesium just like cucumber, as well as calcium and iron. This extremely versatile food can make a great addition to any lunch or dinner meal, or even a snack straight from the fridge.

3. Radish 

Radishes follow slightly behind at 95% water content but have amazing health benefits alongside hydrating properties. Radishes are known to be anti-carcinogenic and contain B vitamins which are rare to find in many foods and essential for overall health.

4. Watermelon 

With each bite of watermelon, you can taste just how hydrating it is. Made up of 92% water, watermelon is a great choice to boost hydration levels whilst enjoying a delicious treat. As well as Vitamins A, B6 and C, watermelon also contains amino acids which help our bodies produce protein and break down foods, making it fantastic for the digestive system.

5. Tomato

Tomatoes are perhaps one of the most versatile foods and are very hydrating with a water content of 94%. Tomatoes are also anti-carcinogenic, full of antioxidant properties and are a great source of health for your liver, which is essential for the functioning of the body.

What are the top 5 most hydrating drinks?

1. Water

Water, of course, is the most hydrating drink. It is essential to our survival and is the absolute best choice to maintain hydration.

2. Low-fat milk

Low-fat milk is excellent for hydration. Milk is full of electrolytes which help to re-hydrate the body after a bout of dehydration.

3. Water infused with fruits or vegetables 

Water infused with fruit (or veg!) is a great way to add flavour to your water whilst adding extra vitamins and minerals. As we know, cucumber is the most hydrating vegetable out there at 96%, so adding cucumber slices to your water boosts hydration even more whilst giving you the antioxidant properties and vitamins that cucumber contains.

4. Fruit juice 

When choosing a fruit juice, be sure to pick one that is labelled as “100% fruit juice” to boost your hydration levels. On average, fruit juice is made up of 85% water, making it very hydrating as well as bursting with vitamins and minerals to boost your overall health. Ideally go for one with reduced sugar.

5. Caffeine-free tea

Caffeine-free teas are a great choice for hydration — whether you like it hot or cold. Tea contains powerful antioxidants and is almost as hydrating as plain water.

What are the symptoms of dehydration?

The first sign of dehydration is actually feeling thirsty. When you notice you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated, so sipping on fluid and eating hydrating foods throughout the day to avoid ever feeling thirsty is the best way to avoid dehydration altogether.

What are some myths regarding foods/drinks and dehydration?

A common misconception is that everybody needs to drink eight glasses of water every day to maintain hydration. It’s different for each person, but even if we take this specific requirement, it does not have to be consumed through glasses of water. As we have discovered, lots of food and drink can be hydrating, so you can gain your fluid intake in any of these ways and not just through pure water.

It is also a myth that drinking water causes weight loss. Although it can be useful in a weight-loss diet, it is not actually the water that causes you to shed weight. Water can reduce appetite as it fills you up, meaning you are likely to eat less. A study has shown that participants who drank two cups of water before meals lost 44% more weight than their counterparts on the same diet. (

So stay cool London, sip on that cucumber water and wait for the inevitable rain.