Why dehydration impacts the menopause
Now, we’re made up of 75% water. But if we don’t drink enough, then we can become dehydrated very, very quickly. Most of us don’t actually drink enough or else we end up drinking too much tea and coffee or juices, and I will talk about those later on this article.
The interesting thing is that so many symptoms of dehydration look exactly like menopause symptoms, so I’ll try and remember them all. Dehydration can cause joint aches and pains. It can cause dry and itchy skin. It can cause low mood and mood swings. It can cause memory loss and that kind of fuzzy headedness. It can also cause headaches.
It can cause constipation and bloating. It can cause fatigue. It can irritate your bladder, giving you cystitis-like symptoms. It can also cause night-time palpitations which can wake you up. Possibly, the most important thing in menopause is if you’re getting hot flashes and night sweats, these can dehydrate you really quickly. Dehydration will then stress the nervous system which will then trigger more hot flashes or night sweats. So, this particular scenario can become a vicious circle very, very quickly.
As you can see, all these symptoms of dehydration can actually look exactly like menopause ones as well. Getting that water into your daily diet is very, very important.
A simple way to drink more water
But how do you do it? You know, I’m probably like everybody else. I don’t like water particularly. I’d far rather have a really nice cup of tea or a nice glass of juice. It’s not an awful lot of fun.
Now just one very important thing: your caffeine and your teas and your other drinks don’t count as part of your daily intake. So you’re actually looking to be drinking one and a half to two litres of plain water every day.
Now this is my plan. This is what I do to actually help myself on a daily basis to make sure I get enough water into my diet. Most important thing is don’t have cold water. If you drink a lot of cold water, it can stress your digestive system, which may already be struggling with menopause symptoms as well.
So what I do is first thing in the morning, small glass of warm water. You can add a little bit of lemon juice to it if you wish. I know some people actually like doing it that way. When I’m in work, I have my lovely bottle which is a big reminder. It’s sitting in front of me all during the day. It’s a litre bottle, and I get that finished before I actually go home at 5 o’clock. And then I have another glass of warm water early evening or sometimes just before I go to bed and that’s me. I’ve actually got the one and a half litres into my day.
Why you should start off slowly
It’s really important if you don’t drink a lot of water to start introducing it slowly. If you drink a lot of water quickly, you’ll be running to the toilet all day. So you need to give your kidneys time to adapt to this extra water. Start off with one glass extra a day for a week, and then the next week, take two and so on and just do it that way. I prefer to drink water little and often rather than taking big glass fulls but some people prefer it the other way. So you’ll find what suits you best.
The problem with other drinks…
Now as for the other drinks: tea, coffee, fizzy juices, and alcohol. Tea and coffee contain caffeine, and caffeine will stir up your nervous system and can give you palpitations, dizziness, headaches, hot flushes, etc…
Now people do say to me,”Can I take caffeine-free tea and coffee?” You can, but the problem there is that there are other chemicals in these drinks that can affect you during the menopause. A lot of chemicals in tea will wash calcium and magnesium out of your body which is not what you want to happen at this particular time both for bone health and mood health as well. And especially with decaffeinated coffee; sometimes they actually use chemicals to decaffeinate it so you end up with coffee that has no caffeine in it but has added extra chemicals in it as well.
Herbal Teas & Coffee Substitutes
But what you can do is there’s nothing to stop you from drinking herb teas and coffee substitute, like A.Vogel’s Bambu®. You can add these into the diet. And the lovely thing about this one is that you can actually take it before you go to bed. You can have a nice warming drink before you actually retire.
The one thing to watch with herb teas is that a lot of herb teas now that you get have lots of flavorings in them which doesn’t really help. So you want to look for pure herb teas if you can.
Why fizzy drinks & artificial sweeteners should be avoided
Fizzy drinks, they really need to be avoided. And I’m sure that everybody’s seen all these articles on the TV about how many teaspoons of sugar is in one can of a fizzy drink.
Sometimes people then go on to artificial sweeteners. Now from the naturopathic point of view in the menopause, we really don’t recommend that you take artificial sweeteners at all. They can stress the liver and you don’t want that because the liver can be already stressed during the menopause. Artificial sweeteners can also interfere with your insulin control, and that can already be under a bit of pressure as well because of falling estrogen.
Fizzy drinks and fizzy water also tend to contain high levels of a mineral called phosphorous. Phosphorous will wash calcium from your bones which is not what you want because we already have the worry about osteoporosis in the menopause as well.
Give it a try!
So hopefully that’s given you a few tips about how to take water and also just how so important it is in the menopause. The great thing is it’s free, and drinking water can sometimes ease symptoms really, really quickly. So I just urge all of you: have a try. You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.