August 16, 2014

Hydration Myths – Part 1

Hydration myths are hydration myths. But when diabetes is in the picture, the solution is not always as easy as it is for healthy adults. Dehydration can occur in any season, but most only think about this during the summer. As the temperature rises, our bodies lose more water because of perspiration. For people with diabetes, we cannot just drink anything we can get our hands on. For us it must be unsweetened beverages, unsweetened lemonade, or water.

While there is low-calorie Gatorade, this may be needed by some people for obtaining electrolytes that are needed by our bodies. Make sure that you do not over do the number of carbohydrates. Staying hydrated also helps your system flush out waste and maintain proper blood pressure / heart rate. Water can even aid your body in keeping up a healthy metabolism. This need has generated some myths that need to by understood.

Myth #1: Drink Eight 12-Ounce Glasses, Every Day.
This is different than most of us are used to seeing. Where did the 12-ounce glass come to be the standard. The Institute of Medicine recommends about 91 ounces of water per day for women and 120 ounces for men. I even have a difficult time with this because everyone is different and need more or less water, sleep, and the number is only a variable. The amount of water you actually need per day depends on climatic conditions, what type of clothing you’re wearing (yes, really), and your exercise intensity and duration.

Myth #2: Just Drink When You’re Thirsty.
I know this is false especially during the other seasons. I was shoveling snow during the winter over 20 years ago and when I finished, my clothes next to my body were soaking wet. I thought nothing of it and took a shower and put on clean clothes. Next thing I knew, I was in the emergency room and had an IV feeding me saline solution. The doctor said I was severely dehydrated. Even he was surprised that this happened during the winter and asked me what I had been doing. After explaining everything, he admitted that it was possible to be dehydrated, but was surprised it had been that severe. This last winter, I asked him if he had more cases of winter dehydration. He laughed and said I was the first of many winter dehydration patients he has treated in the years since.

Sure, thirst can be a sign of dehydration, but I found out otherwise. Exercise can actually blunt your thirst mechanism, causing you to feel un-thirsty even when your body is screaming for water. So, stay on the safe side and drink up during physical exertion.

Myth #3: A Sports Drink Is Your Best Bet.

What to drink depends on what you’re doing. Sports drinks are not always the best. It can be healthier to drink water and then have a post exercise snack that is rich in sodium or potassium. With diabetes, this puts limits on our choices. Bananas as suggested, are out for most people because of the carbohydrates they contain.

While coffee can rehydrate you, if you have diabetes, be careful of the amount of caffeine that you consume. Too much can increase your blood glucose levels rather substantially. If you insist on having your caffeine, be sure you are not doing this following exercise or before you exercise if you want to manage you blood glucose levels. And yes, water can be your best drink when it comes to hydration. Plus, research shows that water can be digestion-boosting.

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