Water is essential to life! You may recall that, before you were first diagnosed with diabetes, you had frequent, intense thirst. And your body still does. Drinking enough water is probably right up there in difficulty with getting enough exercise. I’m still working on it. Dehydrated cells become more insulin resistant, so it’s important to keep hydrated.
How much water should I drink?
You may have grown up believing you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water. What do you think now? Is that too much? Is it enough? Or does it depend on something else—on your height and weight, your age, your gender, your level of activity?
Someone recently came up with the idea that you should take the number of your weight (in pounds) and divide in half, and that is the number of ounces of water you should drink. For example, if you are 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water. That’s over eight 8-ounce glasses! (Sorry, whoever thought of this did not give equivalent instructions for the metric system.)
Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Christine Moore, in her book Real Food Keto,1 says that not only can you not count caffeinated drinks in your water requirement, but since caffeine is a diuretic, add 1.5 times the number of ounces to your total in order to replace the water lost from a diuretic drink! So, in the above example, if you have a 12-ounce coffee (even if it’s black with no cream or sugar) or cola drink, you would have to add 18 ounces to the 75 ounces, making 87 ounces. Got it?
Christine Moore also says that in no case should you drink over 128 ounces (1 gallon or 3.79 liters) because you could die. She gave an account, though rare, of what can happen. “The hiker…died from drinking TOO MUCH water: Excess fluid and lack of food caused her brain to fatally swell.”2 When your kidneys cannot excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood becomes diluted, resulting in low sodium levels in the blood, a condition called hyponatremia.
Christine is so passionate about the importance of water drinking in your nutritional profile that she calls water “the honorary fourth macronutrient” besides proteins, fats, and carbohydrates (Real Food Keto, page 119).
Finally, brain-function specialist Dr. Arlene Taylor says, “Just a one percent level of dehydration (and at the point you probably are not even thirsty) results in a five percent reduction in cognition.” She further says to “just drink enough so you pee one or two pale urines per day. Personally, I find that a much easier way to track my level of hydration.”3
Your first instinct when you have a blood sugar spike may be to drink more water. Drink enough to satisfy your thirst, but don’t overdo it, because excess water flushes out the electrolytes your body needs.
Drinking water with meals
As a Seventh-day Adventist who grew up believing in what Ellen White said, you may have been told you should not drink water with your meals because it dilutes digestive juices. A 1974 Ministry Magazine article said, “Water is the medium required for the chemical reactions comprising our life processes to occur. Today’s science tells us that the enzymes involved in the digestive process function optimally at body temperature; any temperature above or below this would result in a reduced rate of digestion. We also know that excessive dilution of digestive juices will prolong the time required for digestion.”4
However, current science (2020) says that drinking water with meals does no harm to your body and aids in digestion. One author enumerates the many reasons people have given for not drinking water with meals and proceeds to de-bunk them all with references to current studies.5 Another writer from the Mayo Clinic says, “There’s no concern that water will dilute the digestive juices or interfere with digestion. In fact, drinking water during or after a meal actually aids digestion.”6
A closer look at what Ellen White actually said reveals that her emphasis is on not drinking cold drinks, like ice water, with meals because it will “arrest digestion until the system has imparted sufficient warmth to the stomach.”7
Sister Ellen also advises water to be drunk a half hour before and after meals. So, if we as diabetics are drinking water freely throughout the day, we probably will drink water a half hour before meals. And a half hour after meals, too!
What about unsweetened sparkling water?
Christine Moore, NTP, says, “It’s okay to drink sparkling water on occasion, but don’t make a habit of it. Carbonated water contains phosphoric acid, which can inhibit stomach acid production as well as interfere with your body’s ability to use calcium. The more plain water you drink, the better” (Real Food Keto, page 122). I would think this applies to any soda, even the stevia-sweetened Zevia sodas.
Another study showed that “rats consuming gaseous beverages over a period of around 1 year gain weight at a faster rate than controls on regular degassed carbonated beverage or tap water. This is because of elevated levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and thus greater food intake in rats drinking carbonated drinks compared to control rats…. These results implicate a major role for carbon dioxide gas in soft drinks in inducing weight gain and the onset of obesity via ghrelin release and stimulation of the hunger response in male mammals.”8
More water tips
“Water suppresses the appetite naturally and helps the body metabolize fat. Studies have shown a decrease in water intake will cause fat deposits to increase, while an increase in water intake can actually reduce fat deposits. Water retention…is best combatted by drinking more water. This allows the body to release the water it had previously been holding on to in case of dehydration.”9 Weight Watchers advises drinking water may help you lose weight because “the body needs water to burn fat.”10
I recently posted in another group, “Pure water (unsweetened, unflavored, noncarbonated) is the best beverage for a diabetic!” One person commented, “It also gets boring!” Here was my response: “Beverages are not for entertaining us. They are for providing hydration so that our body parts work the way they should. I would venture to say that pure water is not boring to a person dying of thirst in the desert! Well, our diabetic bodies are dying of dehydration whether or not we are consciously aware of it. Our body cells and organs are screaming for pure water!” Marsha commented, “When I’m tempted to think it’s boring, my mind goes to the millions of people who don’t have the blessing of pure water. Then I can drink with thankfulness and enthusiasm.”
Finally, my personal opinion is that the reason any so-called “detox” or “cleanse” works is because it’s putting more liquid into your body. I’d just rather “detox” with plain water.
1Moore, Jimmy, and Christine Moore, NTP. Real Food Keto: Applying Nutritional Therapy to Your Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, 2018. https://www.amazon.com/Real-Food-Keto-Applying-Nutritional/dp/162860316X/
2Davies, Madlen. “The hiker who died from drinking TOO MUCH water: Excess fluid and lack of food caused her brain to fatally swell,” Daily Mail (October 5, 2015). https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3260684/The-hiker-died-drinking-water-Excess-fluid-lack-food-caused-brain-fatally-swell.html. (accessed on 7/26/2020).
3Taylor, Arlene R., PhD. “How Much Water to Drink,” Questions & Answers, n.d. https://arlenetaylor.org/q-a-brain-talk/brain-dysfunctions/8469-how-much-water-to-drink-2 (accessed on 7/26/2020).
4Dean of the college, Andrews University at the time this article was written. “Water . . . One of Heaven’s Choicest Blessings,” Ministry Magazine (April 1974).
https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1974/04/water-one-of-heavens-choicest-blessings (accessed on 7/26/2020).
5Petre, Alina, MS, RD (NL). “Drinking Liquids with Meals: Good or Bad?” Healthline (June 21, 2019). https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/drinking-with-meals (accessed on 7/26/2020).
6Picco, Michael F., MD “Does drinking water during or after a meal disturb digestion?” Mayo Clinic (April 18, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/digestion/faq-20058348 (accessed on 7/26/2020).
7White, Ellen G. Counsels on Health, compiled by Pacific Press Publishing Association (December 1, 1951), page 119.2.
8Samandar, Doreen, et. al. “Carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages induces ghrelin release and increased food consumption in male rats: Implications on the onset of obesity,” Science Direct, from Obesity Research & Clinical Practice (Volume 11, Issue 5, September–October 2017, Pages 534-543 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orcp.2017.02.001). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1871403X17300066 (accessed on 7/26/2020).
9“What should I be drinking and how much?” Keto: The Home for Ketogenic Diets, n.d. https://www.reddit.com/r/keto/wiki/faq#wiki_what_should_i_be_drinking_and_how_much.3F (accessed on 8/8/2020).
10Weight Watchers. “Yes, drinking more water may help you lose weight,” Hub, Johns Hopkins University (January 15, n.y.).
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What should I be drinking and how much?
Water suppresses the appetite naturally and helps the body metabolize fat. Studies have shown a decrease in water intake will cause fat deposits to increase, while an increase in water intake can actually reduce fat deposits. Water retention…is best combated by drinking more water. This allows the body to release the water it had previously been holding on to in case of dehydration. Water is a huge factor in weight loss and is often underestimated. Your progress will be slow if you don’t hydrate. The actual amount you need will depend on many factors, so try using a hydration calculator.
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