People with diabetes are especially prone to fluid loss and dehydration. Many of us are aware of the dangers of severe dehydration, but did you know that many people, including people with diabetes, spend most of their days mildly under-hydrated? People who are not fully hydrated may experience symptoms like fatigue, low mood, poor concentration, and low exercise stamina. In addition, researchers have found that mild dehydration, when chronic, can contribute to health problems like urinary tract infections, kidney stones, constipation, and even high blood pressure and heart disease.
As the hot summer months approach, it's a good time to examine your water drinking habits and consider improving them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published an educational guide to increase awareness surrounding the importance of hydration and to help us prepare for summer by offering the following tips:
- Eat your water. Experts estimate that food provides about 20% of our daily water needs. In general, fruits and vegetables are the best food sources of water. Fruits and vegetables have the added benefit of being packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that help prevent health problems in people with diabetes.
- Carry a water bottle. Having diabetes means you may lose more fluids and have a higher risk of dehydration. If you have water with you all the time, you'll be able to take a drink even before your mouth gets dry. On hot days, try putting a freezer-safe water bottle in the freezer overnight so it stays cold all day.
- Choose water. Even though sugar-sweetened soft drinks do provide water, they also have lots of sugar that can make diabetes more difficult to control and provide calories your body doesn't need; so, stick to water and other unsweetened beverages as much as possible.
- Add pizazz. Squeeze a little lemon or lime into your water bottle, add a few mint leaves, or consider getting a home carbonator to make your water more interesting.
Listen to your doctor
Some people need to restrict their water intake due to special health problems. If your healthcare provider tells you to limit your water consumption because of a condition such as kidney disease, the CDC reminds you to follow their instructions.
("Nutrition for everyone: Water: Meeting your daily fluid needs," CDC (updated Oct 10, 2012), accessed Apr 26, 2015, www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/water.html.)