Remember when you didn’t go anywhere without a water bottle? Neither do I. If you are like me, and many women on the flip side of menopause, chances are you are not hydrated enough. Instead of drinking eight or nine glasses of water a day, you are probably knocking back endless cups of coffee, tea, diet soda or a fruit/veggie concoction the color of Astro Turf. Sure, some women drink two quarts of water per day, but I asked around. This is what I heard:
“I just drink when I’m thirsty.”
“I hate water.”
“Enough to brush my teeth & take my meds. I know I should drink more, but I never feel like it.”
“Do Martinis count?”
I also heard a lot of confusion. What’s wrong with coffee, tea, soda and juices? Um, plenty. Coffee, tea or soda have a diuretic effect … they flush water out of your system, the opposite of what you need. I also heard about common symptoms of dehydration from friends who prefer Coke Zero or a Mochaccino to a tall cool glass of H2O.
- Dry mouth
- Dry eyes
- Dry skin
- Headaches & Migraines
- Muscle cramps
- Kidney stones
- Impaired memory or concentration
- Mood swings
- Darker urine
- Brittle hair and nails
- Flatulence and digestive issues.
Do I hear a collective “Whaaaa”? If these symptoms sound all too familiar, it’s no coincidence. According to the FDA, 78% of women 50-59 suffer from dehydration. Medications for hypertension, diabetes and depression put you at greater risk because they are diuretics. Same goes for Premarin.
According to Dr. Mickey Harpaz, author of Menopause Reset and 50 Shades of Menopause, if your body isn’t getting enough water, your heart will have to work harder, putting you at risk for high blood pressure and coronary disease. Breathing problems such as allergies, asthma, and COPD are also a result of dehydration. Meanwhile, if dehydration reduces blood flow to your brain, it can cause memory loss or emotional instability. (Which may explain why people dying of thirst in the desert see mirages.)
And what about those “fine lines and wrinkles,” to say nothing of the dreaded crepey skin? Sure, you can slather $300 miracle creams on your face and decolltee , but if you’re not drinking enough water, you may as well apply those pricey lotions to kitchen floor.
But I don’t feel thirsty
After age 50, our ability to recognize thirst decreases says Lawrence Armstrong, a researcher with the University of Connecticut Human Performance Laboratory. So, unless you engage in aerobic activity or intensive exercise, your thirst may be easily quenched by that morning cup of coffee, lunchtime smoothie and Merlot with dinner. All the more reason to not let your thirst be your guide.
Being healthy means learning to make good choices over your basic instincts, like choosing quinoa over French fries and a juicy apple over key-lime pie. We all indulge from time to time. But when it comes to hydration, the risk factor isn’t just putting on five pounds. It’s the entire quality of your life, head to toe.
Thinking about increasing your daily water intake is easy. Doing it is harder. I know. I wake up craving coffee and orange juice. Not my body’s most important nutrient. (Contrary to rumor, it’s not chocolate!) Here are some tips to help increase your water intake:
- Set achievable goals. Start by drinking one glass of water before noon, one before dinner and one after.
- Build up to drinking two glasses of water before noon, two before dinner and two after. Then add the third glass when you’re ready.
- Keep a container of water with you wherever you are – at your desk, in the car, next to your bed, etc.
- Download a free drink tracker app such as Hydration Genius or Water Balance.
- Consider buying Hidrate Spark, a smart, 24 ounce, water bottle that uses Blue Tooth and glows to remind you it’s time to rehydrate. This device is currently used in medical research funded by NIH.