Thirsty? Grab some water. Not thirsty? You should probably grab some water anyway.
Staying hydrated helps combat some of the most frustrating complications of diabetes: heart complications, low energy, dry mouth and skin, and high blood sugar. The challenge is that the kidneys are constantly working to flush excess sugar from the bloodstream by creating more urine, robbing our body of fluids. People with diabetes have their work cut out for them when it comes to staying hydrated. But it’s worth it!
Here are 8 ways staying hydrated can help you combat diabetes complications and stay healthier:
8. Promotes lower blood sugar
The kidneys use water to flush out excess blood sugar, but if that water is not being replenished, the flushing can cause the blood to become more concentrated. That means the sugar in your blood will become more concentrated, and the kidneys will continue flushing. Staying hydrated can help break the cycle, restore the body’s proper balance, and help the kidneys maintain proper blood sugar levels.
7. Prevents Dry Mouth (and eyes!)
Both diabetes medications and high blood sugar can contribute to dry mouth (more information here). Dry mouth makes it difficult to chew and swallow and can cause bad breath and chapped lips. Taking small sips of water throughout the day can combat dry mouth and promote healthy saliva production. Saliva helps keep teeth healthy, fights bacteria growth, and washes away bits of food that get stuck to your teeth. Thanks, saliva!
Staying hydrated also helps keep your eyes moist—bonus!
6. Supports Weight Loss
Drinking water can fight weight gain in three ways: it helps you to feel more full, prevents you from mistaking thirst for hunger (a common occurrence), and increases metabolism.
If you replace sweetened beverages with water, then you’re doing double-duty to promote weight loss. Even beverages that use no-calorie sweetener can increase your desire for sweet things and cause you to eat more later on. If you can opt for water instead of the sweet stuff, you’ll be saving money and calories!
5. Helps Keep Up Your Energy Levels
Diabetes can wreak havoc on your energy levels. Add to that work stress, family stress, and the general energy required to stay alive, and you can easily find yourself desperate for anything promising an energy boost. Well then, grab your water bottle.
Even slight dehydration can have a major effect on energy levels, mood, and even brain function. A loss of just 1.5 percent of normal water volume counts as mild dehydration, which can cause fatigue, anxiety, and adverse mood changes. Greater dehydration will intensify these symptoms and can cause headache, dizziness, low blood pressure, and confusion.
Generally dehydration has already started when you feel thirsty, so be sure to be hydrating throughout the day regardless of how you are feeling.
4. Promotes Heart Health
When you’re properly hydrated, the heart has an easier time pumping blood throughout your body. This is especially important for people with diabetes since they can struggle with poor circulation and are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.
When you’re dehydrated your blood volume decreases, and with less available blood, your heart has to beat faster to compensate. This puts stress on the heart, and you may also feel heart palpitations.
3. Promotes Healthy Joint and Muscle Function
Since good hydration helps the heart pump more efficiently, blood can more easily reach the muscles, and the muscles will work more efficiently. Muscle cells use water to remove waste, and joints use water for lubrication. Both will work better when the body is not starved for water.
2. Promotes Healthy Skin
If your body is working overtime to clear excess blood sugar through urination, it has to take the water from somewhere. If water is not replaced, your skin can pay the price, and it often does as the skin is the last organ that water will reach. Because people with diabetes often deal with dry skin and related complications, staying hydrated is even more important.
Drinking the recommended 8 to 10 glasses of water a day (a 150-pound person should drink about 9 cups or 75 ounces a day, and more if they’re sweating a lot) will help keep skin moisturized. Dry skin is more prone to wrinkles, and some claim that drinking enough water can make the skin more radiant.
1. Helps Keep Your Insides Clean
The kidneys are responsible for flushing more than just excess sugar. They’re responsible for flushing other waste from the body and for regulating electrolytes and hormones. Helping the kidneys out by staying hydrated can prevent urinary tract infections and kidney stones. We can all drink to that!
Are you motivated yet? Remember that other liquids, and even high-water foods, can help you reach your hydration goals, but water is best. Start by increasing your water bit by bit throughout the day until your urine is consistently pale rather than dark and concentrated-looking.
It may take some time for your body to adjust to your improved hydration habits, but keep at it and your body will thank you for it!
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.