Dehydration

Do you believe in providence?  I do.  Too many times in my life a random search, an unexpected meeting, a chance conversation, turns out to be life changing.  I found the Blood Type Diet in a random search.  I believe that was the providence of God.  I may well be experiencing another blessing of providence in my current research related to my bad cholesterol report.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about menopause and exercise, because exercise is so critical to lowering cholesterol.  Dr. D writes about it – but of course he isn’t the only one.  Exercise is a part of everybody’s cholesterol program.  But post-menopausal women have some specific issues with exercise.  As I was verifying a statement I wanted to make in the blog, I came across one sentence on a website

“hormone changes can cause dehydration and brittleness in ligaments and tendons.”

That statement sparked a flood of memories from the past 15 years.

  • My eyes dried out.  In the winter they would stick together at night and scratch my cornea.  My eye doctor told me to use lubricating eyedrops.
  • I had a series of urinary tract infections.  My doctor said my mucus membranes were drying out.  He gave me a cream and antibiotics.  I also started taking cranberry capsules.
  • I got fluid in one ear.  My doctor told me to use saline nasal spray to keep my nasal passages moist.
  • I got a floater in my right eye.  My eye doctor told me that floaters are caused by the material inside my eyeball drying out and pulling away from the inside of my eyeball.  He said there was nothing to prevent it or make it go away.  A year later I got another floater in my left eye.
  • My skin especially on my face, my arms and my ankles appeared dry.  I noticed more lines and crepe skin.  I researched, but the websites I found focused on collagen and elasticity.  I tried a few of the products they were promoting, but didn’t see significant improvement.

In all of that time no one told me I might be dehydrated.

I decided to research menopause and dehydration.  I was shocked.  There were lots and lots of websites.  The most interesting statement I read was this:

“Our bodies are at least 75% water and if we neglect our water intake this can cause a whole raft of symptoms that can look suspiciously like menopausal ones.”

One article called “Three lifestyle tips for menopausal women” listed Keep Hydrated as their number one tip – ahead of Stay Active and Eat Healthy.

Another was called “Why Water Is Your Most Important Drink At Menopause?”

How did I not know this?  Why did none of the doctors I saw about various issues mention hydration?  And the most important question of all – – Have I been dehydrated for 15 years?

The standard recommendation for water intake seems to be 8 cups a day.  I have known that for years.  I was averaging 6-8 cups a day, and I thought I was doing pretty good.

My new research said you start with 8 cups a day, but if you are post-menopausal, you need more water, and if you live in a hot, dry climate you need still more water.  South Texas would certainly qualify as hot and dry.  I decided to go with 10 cups a day.

Ug.  At first I thought I was drowning.  It’s hard to schedule that much water.  I was spending way too much time in the bathroom.  But I was determined to give it a try.

About a week into my 10 cup a day experiment I was walking near the pharmacy in my grocery store.  I decided to check my blood pressure.  Dr. D’s Cholesterol Book had encouraged me to give up a food that is well known for lowering blood pressure.  I wanted to be sure that I was not helping my cholesterol at the expense of my blood pressure.  I sat down and put my arm in the cuff.  Then I noticed this was a new machine.  They had a lot of free tests.  My blood pressure was fine, so I looked at what other tests were available.

I checked my fat percentage – it was 26%.  It is supposed to be below 25%.  Not too bad – but I bet it was much lower before menopause.

Then I saw a hydration test.  I had been drinking so much fluid that I expected to pass with flying colors.  The test said I was very dehydrated.  On a scale of 1 -10, I was between  2 and 3.  I was shocked.  I was devastated.  Again I asked – Have I been dehydrated for 15 years?  I think the answer has to be yes.

I increased my fluids to 12 cups a day.

There are lots of opinions about what fluids to drink.  Most websites say don’t count sodas, because they are dehydrating.  I don’t drink soda, but I do drink unsweetened, flavored sparkling water.  Most people seem to agree that it’s not the carbonated water that has the diuretic effect, but the other ingredients in the sodas.  So I am continuing to enjoy one sparkling water a day.

Most websites say no coffee or tea because caffeine has a diuretic effect.  There was not agreement on green tea, because the health benefits are so great.  I finally settled on this statement. “While caffeine is dehydrating, the water in green tea more than makes up for the effects, ultimately leaving you more hydrated than you were.”  So I drink one 16 ounce glass of green tea every day and count that toward my 12 cups.

One of my favorites is a 16 ounce glass of water with a hint of fruit flavoring and a scoop of L-Carnitine.  It tastes good, and according to Dr. D’s Cholesterol Book, it promotes fat burning.  I drink this once a day.

I sip rather than gulp.  Gradually my body is getting used to the extra fluid, and I am not going to the bathroom all the time.  I am noticing little positive changes…but it’s too early to brag about most of them.  If the improvements continue and future tests show an improvement in my hydration status, I will look upon that one statement in the exercise blog as God answering my prayers for guidance in His providence.

One big change that I will mention is that I am not as hungry between meals.  I think I may have been mistaking thirst for hunger.  I have a good appetite at meal times, but I am satisfied with reasonable portions.  I had increased my fat intake a lot, because fat helped satisfy my hunger.  Now I am content with a Tablespoon of oil a day.  That should have a positive impact on my body fat and my cholesterol.

 

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