Understanding that the adult human body is made up of approximately 50% water (on average 50% if you are female and 60% if you are male), there is no question that it needs water to keep it functioning at its best. Water is life, it cleanses, lubricates and hydrates; however, the human body naturally loses water as it ages. At birth, we are approximately 80% water, but with age, daily habits, internal, external and emotional stressors, this level reduces significantly as we become progressively “drier” with time. Without and adequate water supply, the skin cells disintegrate. Structures that support skin become thin and flat. Blood vessel walls become fragile, porous, and leak water like old pipes. Nutrients cannot be delivered, and waste materials aren’t carried away. And the more water that’s lost, mean the more fragile and penetrable the barrier is. That weakening means even more water is lost, and a destructive, self-perpetuating cycle is set in motion. Replacing lost water seems simple enough if we believe what physicians, the general public and health magazines have espoused for ages: “drink more water.” But how much is adequate? Eight, nine, 10 glasses? And is drinking water really sufficient enough to return the body to its infantile levels of hydration?
You can put a stop to this water loss. You can rebuild a vital strong barrier that not only gives you more youthful appearance but also functions at its full potential, defending itself against further water loss. The question remains, however, what is the best way to get water back into the body and keep it there? The answer lies not in how filtered your water is at home, or even if you religiously drink 10 or more glasses of water a day, but rather how many fruits and vegetables you consume daily. The best way to replenish the body and quench thirst is not with the water we drink rather, to consume water through foods.
Choosing juicy foods offers cells the much-needed hydration they require for basic everyday functioning as well as vital nutrients to repair and fortify their membranes. What has been gleaned from scientific literature is that certain phytochemicals may offer important cytoprotective capabilities, among other benefits, that may preserve cutaneous barrier function and cellular immunity. Simply put, it is far more hydrating to eat a cucumber than drink water.
The most hydrating foods, fruits and vegetables, are those packed with the highest levels of nutrients and are beneficial to cell health. In general, this includes foods that are anti-inflammatory and as low acid to alkaline-forming as possible. Most low acid to alkaline fruits and vegetables are also anti-inflammatory.
Today, I wanted to call out one of my favorite hero ingredients, the pomegranate:
Pomegranates (about 80% water content) contain high levels of polyphenols and offer positive and preventive effects on cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke and inflammation. Most berries are moderately acidic, but contain strong anti-inflammation properties. Flavonoids, a kind of polyphenol found in berries, help regulate nitric oxide, a free radical that regulates blood flow, and protects against blood clots and oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Systemically, flavonoids have shown to lower blood pressure. The strongest polyphenol is ellagic acid, with high levels found in raspberries, strawberries and pomegranates. The scientific study of polyphenols is a relatively new but exciting area of research as early studies on the potency of these elements have been promising. While I could continue to extensively expand on this powerful fruit, I wanted to share two of my favorite holiday recipes to provide you with the tools to hydrate from the inside out.
Beet, Pomegranate and Pistachio Salad
When it comes to the holudays, I like to make powerful side dishes to boost cellular hydration and this dish can be served hot or cold and is the perfect accompaniment to any meat or served as a main dish on its own.
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour. 15 mins
Serves 4-6 as a side.
- 3 pounds beets (you can use any color) – scrubbed and cut into wedges not more than ¾ inch thick. Peel if preferred first.
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (for cooking beets)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- ¼ cup crushed roasted pistachios
- 1 tablespoon orange zest, optional
- 2 sprigs of flat leaf parsley
Pre-heat oven to 425F
- Roast Beets: Toss beets, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper in a bowl to coat well and place on parchment lined baking sheet and roast until fork tender, stirring every 15 minutes, about 45 minutes.
- Mix: The maple syrup and ½ cup of balsamic vinegar and place in small pot on medium low heat, and reduce 20 minutes or until you have about 3 tablespoons.
- Garnish: When beets are done, place in a serving dish and toss with balsamic glaze, pomegranate seeds and pistachios. Garnish with orange zest and chopped parsley.