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What’s Good for Dehydration: 10 Rehydrating Foods and Drinks

Dehydration occurs from the loss of water due to sweat or diarrhea. Replenish your body with 10 foods and beverages that are good for dehydration such as plain water, coconut water, milk, soups, and fruits.

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Man drinking water

Drinking frequent sips of plain water is good for dehydration. Sports drinks and water-rich food are also good for dehydration.

If you are severely dehydrated, you need to seek a medical professional immediately, as you may need IV fluids or other medical support.

Chronic dehydration may also increase the risk of developing other chronic diseases [1]. Carrying adequate water is essential for day hiking to prevent dehydration.

I’ve spent multiple hours researching the recommended foods and drinks for rehydration when dehydrated. I’m also a medical provider who has seen and treated many dehydrated patients.

If you are mildly dehydrated, such as during a hike or after vigorous exercise, these 10 foods and beverages are good for dehydration.  

1) Plain Water

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Regular water without anything added is generally the best antidote for dehydration from hiking or vigorous activity.

If you’re exercising or hiking longer than an hour, a snack might also help you continue your activity without sudden energy loss. This is primarily related to blood glucose and tissue glycogen depletion rather than water loss or sweating during activity.

Our bodies are efficient at conserving sodium and other electrolytes, so we usually only need regular plain water to rehydrate us during and after hiking or vigorous exercise. If you’re outdoors, you must drink clean purified water to avoid water-borne illness.    

2) Sports Drinks 

Sports drinks such as Gatorade also help with rehydration primarily through their high water content. They usually contain lots of extra sugar, which isn’t usually necessary unless you’re vigorously exercising for more than an hour.

The extra electrolytes are probably not necessary unless you have extensive fluid loss from diarrhea or vomiting or if you sweat profusely for multiple hours on end, such as during a marathon or other athletic event. 

3) Coconut Water

Coconut water can also rehydrate you as it has electrolytes, sugars, and high water content. Studies have shown that coconut water rehydrates just as well as sports drinks, although it may cause more bloating and an upset stomach.

Coconut water also requires refrigeration several hours after opening to prevent spoilage. 

4) Oral Rehydration Solution

Oral rehydration solution or oral rehydration salts (ORS) is a glucose-electrolyte solution formulated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to reduce dehydration in people with severe diarrhea.

ORS is usually available in powder packets that you dissolve in clean purified water and then consume. Pedialyte is a common premixed ORS similar to the WHO formulation.

Generally, ORS therapy is done under the supervision of your medical provider, primarily in the setting of dehydration due to severe diarrhea. Most hikers and athletes do not need ORS rehydration unless they’re in the backwoods with severe diarrhea. 

5) Milk

Milk also contains carbohydrates and electrolytes, lots of water, and the bonus of additional protein. Research studies suggest that milk may be a great post-exercise rehydration drink.

Not everyone can tolerate the lactose in milk, which can cause bloating and loose stools. Because milk is calorie-rich, it is probably not an ideal beverage for rehydration during exercise as it may upset your stomach during your activity. 

6) Soups

Soup is another ideal rehydrating food post-physical activity. It usually contains significant water and nutrition to replenish your energy. While broth is often recommended, there is no reason to stick with only broth unless you’re on a calorie-restricted diet.

As a caution, many soups, including broth, contain lots of sodium, which may make you feel even more thirsty and swollen. 

7) Melons

Melons are a great way to rehydrate, as they usually have about 90% water content. They also provide fiber to help the natural sugars absorb more evenly. 

8) Cucumbers

Cucumbers are also a good rehydrating food, with a 96% water content. They can also be added to water for a taste benefit. However, they do cause some people to burp and have stomach aches, so keep this in mind before consuming them. 

9) Berries

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and many other berries contain rehydrating water, fiber, and sugar that can help you recover after hiking or vigorous exercise.

Remember that you’ll need to eat a bunch to rehydrate yourself completely. Berries work well as a supplement to the other rehydrating methods. 

10) Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain 95% water and can help increase your water intake to avoid dehydration or rehydrate after hiking or other sweaty activities. Tomatoes are a low-calorie food that can supplement your other water intake. 

Getting outside has many benefits, including increased physical activity. Still, a sufficient amount of water is essential for hiking for experienced hikers and those who are learning to hike

What have you found is good for dehydration?


What is Dehydration?

Dehydration commonly occurs from water loss, usually from sweat or diarrhea. During vigorous exercise in a hot, dry environment, one can lose more than 1-2 L/hr. 

If you get diarrhea, you can lose several liters of fluid with electrolytes daily. A sports drink or coconut water might better replenish your body when you have diarrhea. Medical help is recommended for guidance.

Otherwise, if you’re hiking or participating in other vigorous activities, plain water works best, as our daily diets usually make up for the loss of electrolytes such as sodium. 

What are Common Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration? 

Most people will get a natural sense of thirst when their water levels are decreased. A common sign of dehydration is dark urine. Your urine should usually be clear to yellow when you’re hydrated. Other common symptoms of dehydration include headaches, dizziness, or muscle cramps. Here are some common signs and symptoms that may indicate dehydration (usually, you will have more than one if you’re dehydrated): 
– Dry tongue
– Headaches
– Confusion
– Tiredness
– Dizziness
– Craving sugar
– Muscle cramps
– Chills
– Dark urine

How to Prevent Dehydration? 

Dehydration sometimes can’t be prevented, such as during severe diarrhea, but most dehydration CAN be prevented with a little planning. 

– Drink 0.5L (16 oz) of water around 1 hour before your activity. 
– Drink small sips of water every 10-15 minutes or approximately 0.5L/hr during your hike or other activity (more per hour if you’re profusely sweating).
– Drink another 0.5L (16 oz) after you finish your activity to rehydrate. 

The general recommendation for total daily water is to consume (from food and beverage) an average of 2.7L (91 oz) for women and 3.7L (125oz) for men every day. 


Article: Dietary Intake Levels for Water, Salt, and Potassium To Maintain Health and Reduce Chronic Disease Risk by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Article: Oral Rehydration Salts by the WHO

Research: Middle-age high normal serum sodium as a risk factor for accelerated biological aging, chronic diseases, and premature mortality by Dmitrieva et al.

Tool: FoodDate Central for food composition data by USDA

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Daniel Borkert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Outdoor Footprints, a website that tells you everything you need to know about camping and hiking. He is an avid outdoorsman with almost four decades of experience in hiking, camping, caving, and fishing. Daniel loves to involve his wife and kids in his outdoor pursuits and inspire other families to do the same. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his family and an energetic Boston Terrier named Zion.

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