Diabetics who drink enough water can help regulate their blood sugar and may lower their risk of additional health problems such as obesity.
Just over 9 percent of the U.S. population, or 29.1 million people, are living with diabetes, reports the American Diabetes Association. To stay healthy, people with diabetes must make significant changes to their diet and lifestyle. However, much of the nutrition advice diabetics receive focuses on their need to regulate blood sugar. While appropriate blood sugar regulation is an essential part of healthy diabetes management, the role of hydration is often overlooked. Proper hydration is critical to living a healthy life with diabetes.
Blood Sugar Regulation and Diabetes
The quintessential feature of diabetes is an inability for the body to properly regulate blood sugar. This is because your body cannot produce insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or has become resistant to insulin (Type 2 diabetes). Insulin is the hormone that stimulates your cells to use extra glucose from the blood. When your body does not respond properly to insulin, you are more susceptible to sudden spikes and drops in blood sugar.
The Link Between Hydration and Blood Sugar
Scientific research suggests that staying hydrated is essential for regulation of blood sugar. For example, a 2011 study from researchers in France found that people who failed to get enough water each day were significantly more likely to develop hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. These effects remained even after controlling dietary and lifestyle factors that may affect blood sugar regulation.
What is the link between hydration and high blood sugar? When you are thirsty, your body releases a hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin acts to increase blood pressure by causing your kidneys to retain water. It also signals your liver to release blood sugar that is stored there. This causes your blood sugar to surge, while excess sugar is not excreted because the kidneys are not producing urine. The cumulative effects of vasopressin may increase your susceptibility to high blood sugar.
How Much Water Is Enough?
In the French study, the greatest benefits were observed for participants who drank at least 34 ounces of water each day. This translates to a little over four cups. Thus, try to drink at least four to six cups of water per day as a starting goal toward better hydration.
Ways to Increase Your Water Consumption Every Day
The scientific evidence clearly indicates that drinking enough water can help you regulate blood sugar and may lower your risk of additional health problems such as obesity. How do you translate that into getting enough water every day?
Consider some of these tips:
Carry a re-usable water bottle. Not only are disposable plastic water bottles bad for the environment, but they are relatively small. Instead, carry a re-usable water bottle that is 24 ounces or larger. This will encourage you to take swigs of water throughout the day.
Flavor your water. Sometimes, drinking water is boring. Add some pizazz by flavoring your water. Add slices of lemon, lime, cucumber or melon to your water for extra flavor. However, it is smart to avoid commercial flavored water products. A container of vitamin water may pack a whopping 31 grams of sugar or more, far more than you should drink as a diabetic.
Enjoy spicy foods. Adding some spice to your diet will naturally cause you to turn to water to soothe the heat. If you enjoy a bit of heat, eat red peppers to encourage yourself to drink more water.
Set a phone reminder. A quick buzz during the day can serve as the perfect reminder to drink some water. If you tend to work hard without taking a water break, set a few phone reminders throughout the day.
Avoid restaurant drinks. If you’re eating out, ask for plain water rather than a soda or alcoholic beverage. If you do decide to indulge in an alcoholic drink, make sure to have a glass of water between every drink to stay hydrated.
Getting enough water may seem like a pain at first, but you will soon get into a good hydration routine. Setting your water bottle in a prominent place serves as an excellent visual cue to take a sip.
About the Author:
Thomas Boston founded Cash Now Offer as a way to help the diabetic community. Being a diabetic himself, Boston’s main goal is to make sure everyone who is in need of diabetic strips is able to get them.
Photo: Todd Morris