Staying hydrated with diabetes is particularly important, and even though this is common sense really, I do want to devote a post to this to make sure that this very important matter is in the forefront of our minds at all times.
Staying hydrated is important to everyone, but with diabetes, provided that our blood sugar is higher than normal that is, our bodies will be looking to flush out more of that excess blood sugar.
This is why excess urination is a symptom of high blood sugar, or even higher than normal blood sugar. This is really the case when we go over the renal threshold, when the body will actively remove excess sugar from the urine, but still can be an issue even though we may be below this threshold and not have sugar in our urine.
Sugar in the urine is actually a symptom of very high blood sugar, and this isn't the level we really want, as the body will not regulate our blood sugar very well this way, and it's more of an attempt to keep things from getting way out of hand. Blood sugar levels at the renal threshold are damaging long term for sure, as we're not just talking about a little high here.With higher blood sugar period though, our kidneys will be more active in filtering our blood generally, and this will mean higher than normal amounts of urination, everything else being equal.
Now if you drink a lot of fluids, this in itself will produce more urine of course, so I'm talking about the amount that one would urinate with higher blood sugar as opposed to without it given a certain intake of fluids.
So you can see that higher blood sugar in itself produces the tendency toward less hydration, and we therefore need to account for it. So we need to ensure that we are getting plenty of fluids, just like we would if we had a virus, for instance.
So this is why the old adage exists that when you are sick, you should drink plenty of fluids, as when we are sick we will also have a greater tendency toward being less hydrated, from the excess urination that the viral infection or whatever will produce. The body is looking to increase the ridding of the pathogens here and therefore your battery can run lower faster so to speak, and you need to replenish it.
So anything that will tend to increase urination needs to be compensated for by drinking more fluid, or actually, anything that increases fluid loss, excessive sweating for instance. So if you have diabetes and tend to sweat more as well, or if you are engaged in a lot of physical activity, then you need to account for this as well.
So we do want to work on maintaining our fluid balance, but one of the big reasons why we want to do this with diabetes is that we don't want the concentration of glucose in our blood to become elevated due to dehydration.
If there is less fluid in your blood, you then have less blood, and a given amount of glucose in it will go up with less blood to hold it in solution. So this means not only higher blood sugar but a higher concentration of glucose as our blood flows through us.
So you can reduce your blood sugar in a meaningful way by just staying hydrated, in addition to the other health benefits this brings, and especially in avoiding the negative health consequences of not drinking enough.
So how much fluid should we consume? Well this of course depends, but it is wise to err on the consumption side here, to drink a little more rather than a little less in other words. You hear things like 8 glasses of water or more, I do think that this is a minimum here, although you will notice that I am using fluids and not water, as I don't think that you just have to drink water.
There is no doubt that water is the most effective thing to drink, and if you drink something else you will really have to drink more of it. A good example here is coffee, and because the caffeine in it is a diuretic, more of the fluid you drink of it will be eliminated, so this will increase the overall fluid need.
A lot of people would take this to mean that coffee doesn't count here, and that only water counts, but that's nonsense actually, and I drink a lot of coffee and I stay pretty hydrated. Not everyone wants to choke down glass after glass of water, I don't care for it myself, but the most important thing is that you do get plenty of fluids period.
So I do drink more fluids than most people do on account of this but I do account for it and I'm able to stay on top of things.
There is an easy way to measure your hydration levels though and that's to use the color of your urine as a guide. To really test this you need to pee in a cup, if you are yellowing the bowl that's actually real bad, it can look very pale though and might not be so pale if you look at it in its pure form.
So we want to shoot for pale yellow here, you do want some yellow but not too much, pale is the right word. If your urine is clear you are overdoing it, and if it's darker you are underdoing it.
I think it's very counterproductive to just tell people to drink a certain amount of water, because if you make the recommendations such that people will either have difficulty complying or simply would not want to, this isn't good at all. So we need to account for the practical side more, and I always look to do this, and the guideline is to find a way for you to stay hydrated however you do it.
Being hydrated is one of the most important things we need to strive for as diabetics, and it's not that hard to do, it's just a matter of coming up with a way we can do it and enjoy doing it, then it gets real easy.