High blood glucose levels can lead to decreased hydration in the body which explains why people with diabetes are at greater risk of dehydration. Becoming dehydrated can cause a host of health problems but it is particularly dangerous for diabetics as it can raise blood sugar levels, harm your kidneys and increase the risk of nerve damage.
Diabetes insipidus (a less common form of diabetes that does not cause blood sugar levels to spike) also carries a risk of dehydration as it leads to frequent urination which creates increased thirst. Alas, drinking plenty of water is imperative to managing the condition.
We’ve written about how to spot the signs of dehydration but the obvious symptoms to look out for are thirst, a dry mouth and dark coloured urine. There are many reasons why it’s essential to practice good hydration when you have diabetes, including the following:-
- Drinking water helps to rehydrate the blood
- It promotes good kidney function by eliminating excess glucose and other unwanted products
- Higher-than-normal blood sugars make blood thicker which can increase insulin resistance by making it hard for glucose to move through the blood vessels to the cells. Drinking water can help glucose get into cells by making the blood less sticky
- Water helps to maintain hydration as well as being good for general wellbeing and health
- It flushes toxins out of the body which consequently helps to fight inflammation
How much should I be drinking?
As a general rule of thumb, the higher your blood glucose, the more fluids you should drink. Other factors such as age, body size and amount of exercise also play a role in how much water you should consume, but the key really is your blood sugar. If your blood sugars are elevated, drinking a large glass of water will help normalise your levels, while helping your blood vessels recover.
How important is healthy hydration in preventing diabetes?
The jury’s still out on whether or not healthy hydration habits can prevent the onset of diabetes. But there is growing evidence to suggest that the amount of water you drink can play a role in how your body regulates blood sugar.
The main reason for this is a handy little hormone called ‘vasopressin’ – a naturally occurring hormone which helps to prevent the loss of water from the body by reducing urine output and helping the kidneys reabsorb water. When dehydration sets in, vasopressin levels rise which triggers the kidneys to hold onto more water. Simultaneously the liver produces more blood sugar, affecting the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin.
The body is a wonderfully complex piece of machinery which makes all of this sound pretty technical, but the over-riding message is that a healthy hydrated body can support the prevention of diabetes, as well as help manage it if you’ve been diagnosed.
Healthy hydration habits for diabetes management
- Always have a glass of water to hand and drink fluids little and often – don’t wait until you’re thirsty!
- Make drinking water a priority and have a glass with every meal, with a transportable bottle that you can carry with you
- Monitor your urine colour – if it’s dark with a strong smell you need to increase your water intake
- Be selective about your drinks – sugary fruit juice, squash and dairy based drinks have a higher calorie and carb content. Good old fashioned water is best.
- Eat unprocessed, fresh foods with a high water content like fruits and salad/vegetables (cucumber, lettuce and tomatoes)
- Check the nutrition labelsand be vigilant with branded drinks that contain sweeteners like agave or honey. These are often labelled as ‘natural’ but any sugar-sweetened drinks can raise diabetes risk.
How can Droplet help?
Sometimes people don’t have a sense of how much they are drinking therefore Droplet can help the person identify when it’s time to take a drink and ensure they are practicing good hydration habits. This is especially helpful for people with diabetes who have got used to feeling thirsty and struggle to identify when they need to hydrate.
Droplet identifies when the user has not drunk for some time and uses flashing lights and recorded audio messages to remind the person to take a drink. Entirely customisable, it is designed in the familiar shape of the mugs and cups we use at home and is a helpful resource for anybody wanting to monitor their fluid intake.
The general information provided above is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. If you have any concerns regarding your health, please consult your GP.