Thirst is a lagging signal. That means that by the time you feel thirsty, you may already be at least a little dehydrated.
Dehydration results from losing more fluids than you’re taking in. Many things can cause you to become dehydrated, including heat, medications, digestive upset, and overexertion. You might feel faint, dizzy, thirsty, fatigued, or have a dry mouth or trouble focusing (1Trusted Source).
Fortunately, there’s more than just water to the rescue. In fact, several foods and drinks can help you rehydrate.
This article explores 7 great options.
When you’re dehydrated, your body needs more than just fluid to regain its balance. In most instances, you must also replenish electrolytes that are lost in fluids from the body, such as sweat and urine (2).
Electrolytes are minerals your body needs for important functions, such as proper fluid balance and keeping your heart beating in a regular rhythm. Some of the most common are:
Coconut water is great to drink when you’re dehydrated, as it provides much-needed water and supplies electrolytes and a few carbs. This is really important if you’re dehydrated and unable to keep much else down. It may also help prevent muscle cramping (2).
For instance, a 1-cup (237-mL) serving of unsweetened coconut water packs 9% of the Daily Value (DV) for potassium and has 45 calories (3Trusted Source).
One small study found that coconut water replenished fluids lost during exercise as efficiently as sports drinks. However, participants more often reported they felt bloated and had greater upset stomach after consuming coconut water (4Trusted Source).
Also, check the ingredients for added sugars or flavors. There shouldn’t be much more than coconut water listed on the label.
Coconut water helps replenish water and electrolytes in your body. This is a great choice if you have nausea — though do sip slowly.
What’s more, bone broth and other soups with animal protein additionally provide collagen. This is an animal-derived protein important for healthy joints, which may be especially important if your dehydration is due to overexertion (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
However, the body can make collagen from many other protein sources as well.
If you’re making bone broth at home, keep in mind that cooking it for more than 8 hours increases its calcium and magnesium content. These minerals are important for bones and muscles, respectively. Adding different vegetables also increases nutrients (8Trusted Source).
A 1-cup (237-mL) serving of beef bone broth, for instance, contains these electrolytes (7Trusted Source):
- Phosphorus: 6% of the DV
- Potassium: 9% of the DV
- Sodium: 21% of the DV
While sodium is an important electrolyte to replenish when you’re dehydrated, consuming too much is associated with heart problems and high blood pressure. Experts advise limiting your sodium intake to 1,500–2,300 mg per day (10Trusted Source, 11, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
Broths and soups provide lots of water and other important nutrients, such as electrolytes. Animal-derived bone broths also provide collagen, which helps with tissue repair and joint health.
Fruits and vegetables have a high water content and can be a great option for keeping you hydrated (14Trusted Source).
This is especially true with fruits like watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe. These all have a very high water content, making them stellar choices when you’re dehydrated.
A 1-cup (152-gram) serving of raw, diced watermelon, for instance, is nearly 92% (139 mL) water. Cantaloupe and honeydew are similar, with about 90% water content in a given serving (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
Storing melon in the fridge may help cool you down if your dehydration was brought about by heat. You can also freeze melon and use it to suck on if you’re experiencing nausea.
This method will more gently introduce liquid into your system if you have an upset stomach.
Melons contain an especially high water content. Storing them in the fridge or freezer before eating is a way to hydrate and cool down. This may provide much-needed cooling if your dehydration is due to heat or overexertion.
Gazpacho is a raw tomato and vegetable soup that is popular in Spain and Portugal, particularly in the summer months.
Its main ingredient — tomatoes — is high on the list of hydrating foods. Besides their 94% water content, raw tomatoes deliver 9% of the DV for potassium and just 33 calories in each 1-cup (180-gram) serving (18Trusted Source).
While tomatoes are botanically a fruit, people tend to treat them like a vegetable in the kitchen.
To make gazpacho, you can blend tomatoes up raw alongside cooling cucumbers, a sliver of bell pepper, olive oil, garlic, onion, and a smidge of salt and pepper — and you’ve got a refreshing and hydrating dish.
What’s more, since this is a raw soup, you get all of the water content from these fruits and vegetables that might otherwise evaporate through the process of cooking.
Gazpacho is a cold, uncooked soup that contains many hydrating fruits and vegetables. Its main ingredient is tomatoes, which are high in the electrolyte potassium and many other nutrients. You can eat it to rehydrate and keep cool at the same time.
Smoothies are a highly customizable way to get more fluids when you’re dehydrated.
These typically take a liquid base, like milk, juice, or unsweetened iced tea, plus a handful of fruits and vegetables, and sometimes yogurt for added protein. You can also use plant-based milks or protein powders instead of dairy.
What results is a creamy, sweet, refreshing way to replenish lost fluids.
Berry-forward smoothies pack lots of vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system. This is especially important if your dehydration is due to a fever or infection.
Add some ice to make your smoothie extra cold if you feel nauseated. Cold foods tend to be less odorous, which might be helpful if certain smells trigger nausea for you.
Smoothies are a highly customizable way to get fluids in your body. Add yogurt if you want some extra protein. Ginger or mint are nice additions if you’re experiencing nausea.
A glass of milk delivers fluids as well as protein, carbs, and some fat. It’s a good option for rehydrating because it contains lots of helpful electrolytes.
Here are some of the main nutrients you’ll get in 8 ounces (245 mL) of 2% milk (24Trusted Source):
- Water: 218 mL (89% by volume)
- Protein: 8 grams
- Calcium: 24% of the DV
- Potassium: 8% of the DV
- Magnesium: 7% of the DV
One experiment in 72 adult men found that both whole and skim milk were more hydrating than water 3–4 hours after consumption.
This is because the additional nutrients in milk, like lactose, sodium, and potassium, help your body slow down the rate it absorbs fluids and how quickly these are excreted in urine (25Trusted Source).
Milk is a good option if you’re experiencing a poor appetite or nausea. Drink it cold if you’re especially overheated, or use it to replenish calories and fluids after a workout.
Milk is high in water and has important electrolytes and nutrients. This is a great choice if you’re dehydrated from overexertion or heat, or if you’re experiencing a poor appetite.
This Greek dip is made with yogurt and cucumber — both of which pack water content.
Yogurt alone has a high water content (85%) and a lot of the same benefits as milk. It also contains some probiotics, which are friendly gut bacteria. Cucumber is hydrating too. It’s made up of 85% water (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
If you’re making tzatziki at home, leave out the step of straining the cucumber. This will result in a runnier consistency, but it will help retain all that wonderful water content natural to cucumbers.
Serve alongside crudités, such as raw, washed carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber rounds.
Tzatziki is a nutritious Greek dip made with the water-rich ingredients yogurt and cucumber. Serve it as a dip with raw vegetables.
Some people are more at risk of dehydration than others. Groups at higher risk include children, older adults, athletes, and people who work outdoors or live at high altitudes.
Several conditions can lead to dehydration, including:
- certain medications, such as diuretics, which may cause you to urinate excessively
- sweating from overexertion, such as from exercise
To prevent dehydration, be sure to drink enough water, eat water-rich foods, and keep an eye on the color of your urine. It should range from light yellow, like lemonade, to pale amber. Darker urine is a sign of dehydration.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, soda, or sugar-sweetened beverages because these can dehydrate you even more.
If you have kidney issues, the foods on this list may not be right for you, and a healthcare professional may need to monitor your electrolyte and nutrient intake closely.
If you’re severely dehydrated, seek help from a healthcare professional right away. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency.