There are many reasons to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily:
- Drinking a glass of water when you take your levodopa helps “flush” the medicine from your stomach to your small intestine, where it is absorbed. Drinking a glass of water and taking your levodopa on-time and on an otherwise empty stomach will ensure that more of the medication is absorbed, giving you the full benefit of the levodopa.
- Staying hydrated aids in digestion and prevents constipation. Just by drinking water, you can help alleviate one of the most common Parkinson’s symptoms – constipation. The bowel needs water to work properly, and dehydration can lead to constipation and other digestive problems including an overly acidic stomach. This increases the risk of heartburn and stomach ulcers.
- Drinking water helps to avoid urinary tract infections (UTIs). Infections, including chest or UTIs are leading causes of admission to hospital for people living with Parkinson’s. These infections also increase the risk of falls, confusion, delirium and hallucination. Some people with Parkinson’s do not hydrate properly because loss of bladder control is a symptom of Parkinson’s. This is because of the unusual messaging to the brain, however if you avoid water intake it will compound continence problems. Instead, see a urologist for some possible solutions.
- Drinking water helps to avoid high blood pressure. When the body’s cells lack water, the brain sends a signal to the pituitary gland to secrete vasopressin, a chemical that causes constriction of the blood vessels. This causes blood pressure to increase which leads to hypertension.
- Drinking water assists with the delivery of oxygen throughout the body. Blood is more than 90 percent water, and blood carries oxygen to different parts of the body.
- Drinking water boosts skin health and beauty. Dehydration causes the skin to become more vulnerable to skin disorders and premature wrinkling.
- Drinking water cushions the brain, spinal cord, and other sensitive tissues. Prolonged dehydration can lead to problems with thinking and reasoning. Dehydration can affect brain structure and function. It is also involved in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters.
Dehydration Health Risks
When an individual has long durations of dehydration, cells lose the ability to function properly and die, which can lead to degeneration and disease.
Dehydration can also lead to poor circulation and blood flow, potentially leading to organ failure, kidney failure, and high blood pressure.
Water also aids in digestion, and therefore dehydration can cause constipation and heartburn due to an overly acidic stomach.
Signs of Dehydration
Feeling thirsty is just one of the symptoms that you might have if you are dehydrated, but it is not the only one. Warning signs of dehydration also include:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Muscle cramps
- Dry mouth, nose or skin
- Lack of sweating or tears
- Upper abdominal pain or lower back pain
Tips for Staying Hydrated
There are a few precautions you can take to avoid dehydration. A recommended daily water intake is the well-known 6 to 8 glasses per day. This meets your body’s requirement of approximately 2 quarts or just under 2 litres of water per day. To make sure you hydrate properly, drink a glass of water with or before each meal or snack throughout the day. This will also help with any swallowing issues arising from Parkinson’s.
Not only is it important to increase fluids such as cold water, it’s also a good idea to limit alcohol, caffeine, high protein drinks, and hot liquids, which exacerbate dehydration because they have a diuretic effect.
Tips for incorporating more fluids into your diet:
- Consume foods with high water content, such as watermelon, oranges, cantaloupe, cucumber, celery, tomatoes, cabbage and spinach
- If you have trouble swallowing, try using a straw
- If you’re worried that drinking too many liquids may lead to incontinence, drink small amounts of water over the course of the day
- Set your YOP-X App to remind you to drink fluids throughout the day
- Limit alcohol, caffeine and hot liquids
- Drink water before, during and after exercise
- Add lemon, lime, orange or cucumber slices, a splash of juice for added enjoyment
- Line up cups on the counter to use throughout the day as a reminder
- Keep a log or checklist of the number of liquids consumed