6

Believe me or not but I'm currently playing a video game :) It's called "Ark: Survival Evolved". You've to survive in the wilderness and for example pick up berries to do so. There is a specific species of such which leads to dehydration if eaten (still, it fills up your hunger indicator).

This made me wonder if there are any plants in real life with such characteristics? Would it be worth to eat them if you have enough drinkable water?

  • 2
    The obvious answer is yes, there is plants that can cause diarrhea and that is the ultimate way to get dehydrated, but that is probably not what you are after ;) – imsodin Dec 16 '16 at 19:17
  • @imsodin ohhh! That is a great point I didn't consider. You should build an answer around that idea, otherwise I'll shamelessly add it to my answer.... ;) – Erik Dec 16 '16 at 19:17
  • 1
    @Erik Go ahead with adding it, this is hardly worth an answer on its own. Besides having relevant infos concentrated in one answer is good anyway in my opinion. – imsodin Dec 16 '16 at 19:24
  • Heh, late to the party. I saw the updated answers but didn't see comments up here. – Quinto Dec 16 '16 at 19:30
5

Are there plants (for instance berries) which lead to dehydration if eaten?

I'd wager that for most people in practically any reasonable situation you would encounter in the outdoors other sources of dehydration would be a bigger factor than dehydration via eating berries. Perhaps if you were laying down with a huge mound of fairly dry berries, wearing a mask that let you eat but minimized water loss due to water vapor in your breath, in a constant comfortable temperature to avoid any sweating, and constantly eating berries then berry induced dehydration might be a factor. Even then I think you might lose more water in your feces than digestion. There are so many other bigger ways that you lose water than digestion that I don't think this is the factor that will be the most important thing to control.

I would even go as far to say that if you're stranded in a hot desert it might be a good idea to eat dry salty crackers or some salty jerky. This is because the salt will help you retain whatever water you can drink, and help make up for all the electrolytes you're sweating out. Food driven dehydration wouldn't be my biggest concern personally.

All that being said... imsodin mentioned this in a comment:

The obvious answer is yes, there is plants that can cause diarrhea and that is the ultimate way to get dehydrated

This is very true. If you eat a berry that caused diarrhea then the diarrhea certainly cause dehydration. According to the Livestrong Foundation:

Many fruits have high fiber content that can potentially cause you to have diarrhea, although no medical organizations recognize certain fruits as being particularly likely to cause diarrhea.

That isn't very promising because it says that medical organizations basically say no. Then in another part of their site they say:

Blackberries are a healthy snack or dessert, but if you experience diarrhea after eating them, blackberries might not be a good food choice for you. Diarrhea can occur for several reasons after you eat blackberries. The most common causes of diarrhea from blackberries include salicylate sensitivity, food allergy and food poisoning.

This leads me to believe that some people might have a food allergy to something in a berry, like salicylate sensitivity, which can cause predicable diarrhea. Interestingly enough WebMD says that blackberries can be used to treat diarrhea, so I guess this berry is a bit of a mixed bag.

Regardless, the moral of the story is if you are allergic to a component in a berry, and that allergy causes diarrhea, then eating berries might lead to dehydration via diarrhea. All in all I'd say that unless you are one of the few with a pretty specific allergy you're more likely to get diarrhea from drinking directly from a stream via giardia.


Would it be worth to eat them if you have enough drinkable water?

Probably not. Diarrhea isn't fun and you can go for a long time without eating. If you know eating blackberries gives you diarrhea, I'd recommend finding something else to eat.


Overall, as I'm sure you know, this is more of a game mechanic than something you'll likely encounter in a true survival situation, unless you have the same food allergies as your in-game character. The more I think about it that might be an interesting game mechanic to allow a player to specify their allergies so different things become deadly or harmless.

3

Yes most of what you eat consumes water for digestion - nuts, grain, beans, and meat. Most if not all vegetables. Only limited fruits have excess water over digestion.

Can only hope you have enough water to consume a healthy diet. This game condition in which you only get water from food is not realistic.

  • 1
    This is true. Though practically everything a human does consumes water! – user2766 Dec 16 '16 at 13:53
  • 4
    Watermelon is the ultimate hydration fruit. Haven't found any in the wild yet though... – ShemSeger Dec 16 '16 at 16:46
  • 1
    After doing some research based on a comment I discovered that some people get diarrhea due to a food allergy from eating blackberries. I agree with your core premise about digestion, but for some people there is a real risk via diarrhea. – Erik Dec 16 '16 at 19:52
  • @Erik Yes I agree food reactions could cause diarrhea and that would lead to dehydration. Reactions are not limited to blackberries. I am not interpreting reactions as the intent of the question. If that is the intent then it is covered reactions in your answer. – paparazzo Dec 16 '16 at 20:09
1

Plants can indirectly cause dehydration if you get diarrhea. The game mechanic can be an oversimplification of reality, or doesn't look at the big picture. Or this could be a detail that the game developers chose to gloss over :)

Regarding the tradeoff, the berries could occupy space in your stomach (filling up the hunger indicator) and provide some feeling of satiety, but is it worth it in the long run?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.