Staying Hydrated in the Sun
by John Kohler
Sunshine is an essential nutrient. We all know that sunshine is the key ingredient that our skin needs to make our vitamin D. I believe we should get some sun every day.
As a matter of fact, my foster dog, Stitch, who is a six-pound, mostly black Chihuahua loves to lie out in the sun everyday. When Stitch gets too hot, he will duck for shade, because while dogs do have some sweat glands, they mostly cool themselves by panting. I have noticed that before Stitch starts panting, he usually moves into the shade to regulate his temperature.
Unlike dogs, we sweat through our skin to keep us cool. This process requires hydration, because when we are out in the sun, we are losing our most precious resource: water. Think about a sun-dried tomato and a fresh picked tomato. The one that has been sitting in the sun too long is now wrinkled and not so full of life, while the other one is vibrant and juicy. Which would you rather be: wrinkled or juicy? And what’s the difference between being wrinkled and being juicy? The answer is the water content!
As people age, their bodies tend to “lose their water,” which may cause wrinkles and other health challenges. Ideally our bodies should be about 70% – 75% water. It is very important to maintain a high water content at all times, because a lack of water (dehydration) can be the cause of many “dis-eases” in the body. A good book that goes into detail about this is Your Body’s Many Cries for Water: You Are Not Sick, You Are Thirsty!, Don’t Treat Thirst with Medications! by Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj.
Based on my personal research, I believe the average person is dehydrated not only from taking in an inadequate amount of liquids, but because they are taking in the wrong kinds of liquids. Coffee, energy drinks, alcoholic beverages and soft drinks may all have diuretic qualities — this means they cause you to lose more fluid than you are taking in!
If coffee and other canned and bottled beverages are generally not good, what are the alternatives? I like to look to nature for answers. One of the easiest things to grab to stay hydrated is water. I like good, filtered water. Filtration is important, as standard tap water may contain things like chlorine, fluoride, etc. that I do not want to put into my body.
You might be thinking, “Hey John, water tastes bland and I don’t really enjoy drinking it.” Actually, I agree with you. Believe it or not, water is my last choice to stay hydrated. So what are some other liquids I use to stay hydrated? I would rather get “living water” from plants, because besides just the water, there is a plethora of other beneficial properties, such as the enzymes, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals — all structured by nature into the perfect beverage. (Plants absorb water from the ground, and then they filter and add other nutrients to the water in a very assimilable form.)
Coconut water is probably my favorite drink to stay hydrated. In fact, I am drinking some right now. “Coconut water” refers to the water out of a young coconut. This water has been filtered by the thousands of cells of the coconut palm. Along the way, the water absorbs a host of electrolytes because the water in the coconut is there to help the coconut seed germinate. In recent studies coconut water has been found to contain much more electrolytes than chemicalized, fluorescent colored sports beverages!
Aside from coconut water, fresh juices keep me hydrated. Juice extractors release the living water content (along with the nutrients) from fruits, vegetables and leafy sprouts and greens, while discarding the fiber that can slow down digestion and absorption of the water and other nutrients. One of my favorite juice recipes is a special mix of celery, cucumber and sprout juice twice daily. This is an excellent recipe to stay hydrated and get a high level of electrolytes.
Overall, I prefer juicing vegetables over fruit. This is because of the high fiber content in vegetables, which can make them harder to digest than their fruity friends. Leafy green vegetables such as kale, chard, collard greens, spinach and lettuce are some of my favorite things to juice. Many people do not realize that leafy greens can contain over 90% water! In a recent test, I juiced one pound of salad mix in one of the most efficient juicers for leafy greens, the Omega 8006 nutrition center, and yielded 1.25 cups of juice. A pound of carrots usually yield about a cup of juice. In my opinion, juicing is one of the best ways to stay hydrated. More importantly, green juice is an easy, digestible way to include more of the nutrients contained within the leafy green vegetables in your diet.
Besides coconut water and juices, I enjoy eating fresh fruits and vegetables for my water content. Fresh sprouts have a very high water content, as well — after all they are just seeds and water.
One of the most important things I have learned over 18 years of living a plant-based raw lifestyle is that water content is King! We will not be able to thrive if we do not maintain an adequate amount of hydration. The foods you eat can play a significant role in your hydration. Foods that have a lower water content than your body (below 70% – 75%) actually dehydrate you, just like the sun. Lower water content foods are things like cooked, packaged and, yes, even dehydrated foods.
For this reason, I choose to eat primarily fresh, high water content fruits and vegetables. By making these foods the foundation of my diet, along with coconut water, fresh juices and pure water, I am sure to stay properly hydrated, even when gardening in the sun. Hopefully you will make these foods and beverages the core of your eating regimen so you can stay better hydrated as well.
- Agile Collaborator