Menopause and Hydration
Are you drinking enough water? When hormones are transitioning during menopause, it is especially important to heed advice to stay well hydrated. General recommendations are to drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily. In other words, if you weight 120 pounds, you should aim for drinking 60 ounces of water every day, the equivalent of around 8 glasses. The Institute of Medicine keeps it simpler and recommends 2 liters (9 cups) of water daily for women living in a temperate climate, and more if living in a hot climate or exercising.
Hydration helps keep hormone levels balanced. Low water intake can raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol supports fat storage around the midsection and contributes to weight gain during menopause. Inadequate hydration also causes fatigue. Fluid imbalance occurs, blood volume lowers, and the body’s metabolism crashes. Keeping hydrated is also helpful in alleviating hot flashes triggered from changing hormones by helping to regulate body temperature. Research suggests that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Dehydration impacts how we feel. Even subtle dehydration of 2% can trigger fatigue, headaches, difficulty concentrating, and lightheadedness.
Start your day with a glass of water before enjoying your morning’s hot beverage. Keep a container of water handy throughout the day as an easy reminder to stay hydrated during activities. Aim to consistently hydrate during the morning and afternoon and reduce your intake in the evening to avoid the need for bathroom breaks during the night. Pay attention to your body’s signal for thirst because if you are thirsty, it means you aren’t keeping hydrated. If your urine is dark yellow, it may indicate you are dehydrated. Good hydration results in urine the color of butter or lemonade. Keep in mind that urine is darker first thing in the morning, and color can be affected by medications.
Do fluids other than water count? Several healthy foods contain water, so they count but don’t rely on this to for adequate hydration. Fluids other than water, such as coffee, tea, kombucha, and soda water often contain caffeine or additives that steal the hydrating quality of water. Carbonated beverages can cause bloating. Drink cool water to help alleviate hot flashes.
Great job if you are already mindful to keep hydrated throughout the day! If you are only drinking a couple of glasses of water daily, slowly build up your intake by adding another glass a day, and over time another glass. Try drinking a glass of water at the start of each day, before, during, and after exercise, and continually during the day to create good hydration habits. Drinking water is an inexpensive, easy way to take care of your body. Your skin, brain, heart, muscles, joints, and bowels depend on water in the same way a plant needs water to stay healthy. Providing your body with enough water every day will help you feel more energized and promote clearer thinking during menopause and beyond.