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If you’re reading this, chances are you're not drinking enough water.
In the United States, 3 out of 4 adults suffer from chronic dehydration; on average, Americans drink just 3.9 cups a day. That dehydration (even if we’re completely unaware of it) causes fatigue, memory fog, irritability, weight gain, and more unwanted side effects.
We are better off both physically and mentally when hydrated. The human body is composed of about 70% water; we need it to keep our bodies functioning properly.
Water contains more health benefits than perhaps any other mineral on earth. When you’re well hydrated, it allows for your body to operate at full capacity. Water helps our circulation, makes us feel better, rids our bodies of toxins, replenishes cells, organs, and blood flow, and helps us maintain a healthy weight. Among other things.
Water and Diabetes
Perhaps most importantly for those of us with diabetes, water has a major influence on maintaining a healthy blood sugar. While many people use physical activity (brisk walking, for example) as a means to lowering blood sugar, drinking water (3700mL for males and 2700mL for females daily, according to the Institute of Medicine’s Water Intake Recommendations) has a similar effect. Along with taking proper medications and exercising, water can also serve to reduce blood sugar by diluting the amount of sugar circulating in the blood.
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It also prevents us from ever going high in the first place. When we are properly hydrated (and -- if on insulin -- have the proper insulin dosage), our bloodstream is in a perfect balance of just the right amount of glucose. Without proper hydration, though, those glucose levels become concentrated, quickly, resulting in high blood sugars.
Along with lifestyle modifications—such as incorporating a healthy way of eating, exercise, and medications if needed into one’s daily habits—one of the best and simplest ways to break down that excess glucose in the blood is to drink water.
Most importantly, water is vital for those of us with diabetes so that we don’t get dehydrated. While most in the US remain in constant dehydration, we (as people with diabetes) should aim for constant hydration.
When glucose in the blood becomes hyper-concentrated (this can occur anywhere from about 170mg/dL -- 200mg/dL, though the number varies from person to person), our kidneys lose the ability to take out the excess glucose.
When our bodies are in this state, the kidneys are forced to work extra hard to filter out the excess sugar. If they can’t keep up, that sugar is flushed out through urine. At this point, the body (which is still in desperate need of hydration) starts to pull fluids from other important tissues, like the lenses of your eye, muscle tissue, and brain tissue in an attempt to preserve its water reserves.
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Over time, lack of water in the system forces the kidneys to retain as much fluid as possible. By keeping in those liquids, your kidneys are also hoarding unwanted glucose. This prolonged strain on the kidneys can wreak long-term havoc on the body.
An important note for those on fluid restrictions: be sure to speak with your doctor about how much water you should be consuming, as it can be possible to drink too much water in certain circumstances.
How to Avoid a Lack of Water
If we stay properly hydrated, we’ll see better blood sugars and, overall, better health. But drinking enough water is definitely a challenge. To make adequate water consumption doable, try these tips:
- Get a reusable water bottle you really like. Create a positive, beautiful, inspiring experience around your water bottle! It will encourage you to drink more. Plus, having a dedicated water bottle to drink from means you’ll know how many ounces you're drinking.
- Drink out of a straw. When you drink out of a straw, you’re more likely to take down more water than you would if you were just sipping. Buy a reusable straw or get a water bottle with a straw attachment to help it go down faster.
- Use an app. There are tons of free apps out there meant solely for tracking water. You can even set up reminders for yourself. Download them all to see which one works best for you!
- Drink water with other daily routines. Every time you get up to go to the bathroom, drink water. Every time you get that hunger feeling, drink water. Every time you check your blood sugar, drink water. Find things that you do often, everyday, and tie them to drinking water.
- Infuse your water. Simply dropping some fruits and/or herbs into your glass, pitcher, or bottle easily and quickly makes it much more appealing. Add slices of lemon and lime, or cucumbers and strawberries. Try adding frozen fruits, like berries, sliced grapes, or even watermelon cubes; place sprigs of mint or basil into your water bottle and let it sit overnight.
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Rose Petal Lavender Water
That last one is my favorite and my go-to. I find drinking water incredibly difficult (and boring!), but using fresh fruits and herbs to add zest and flavor has changed everything. Rose and lavender-infused water is one of my absolute favorites.
Here’s how it’s done.
Use 10 rose petals and a spoon of lavender buds in 1 liter of water. Let it sit and infuse for an hour. The combination of the rose petals and lavender will provide a unique, calming aroma and slightly delicate, floral flavor.
Drink it hot at night or drink it cold in the morning with some zested lemon slices; simply store your infusion in the fridge overnight!
This article has been clinically reviewed by Lisa Graham, RN, CDCES, health coach and director of clinical operations at One Drop.