Good morning, good afternoon, good evening or good night, depending on when you’re reading this week’s blog entry. I thought we would talk about the Importance of Drinking Water and staying hydrated.
The Importance of Drinking Water:
Poor nutrition and hydration can sometimes make bladder and bowel symptoms worse. Today we will look at all the reasons why drinking water and having good hydration is so important to the bladder and bowel.
What Happens If I Don’t Drink Enough?
Between 60-70% of your body is made up of water and every part of your body needs water to function well. Having an insufficient level of fluid in your body can really impact your bowel and bladder health.
What Happens to My Bowel?
Becoming dehydrated can lead to:
Constipation – You are likely to be experiencing constipation if you are having fewer bowel movements than normal or opening your bowels less than three times a week, passing stools that are hard and dry. Having constipation can reduce your appetite and leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable, along with stomach pain and feeling fatigued. Increasing your water intake can help you have more regular bowel movements and reduce your symptoms.
Bowel incontinence – Constipation can lead to overflow incontinence as liquid stool can leak through the impacted hard stool and can lead to an ability to hold on to your bowel movements. Keeping your fluid intake up will keep your movements regular and soft.
What Happens to My Bladder?
Becoming dehydrated can lead to:
Bladder irritation and concentrated urine – Not having enough fluid in your body will lead to concentrated urine, which can irritate the bladder and make you feel the urge to pass urine with urgency, or more frequently or suffer from incontinence. Drinking more fluids will help to flush any irritants through your bladder and out of your body.
Increased risk of UTI – Concentrated urine can also lead to a risk of a urinary tract infection. Symptoms of a UTI include a burning sensation when urinating, the feeling of being unable to empty your bladder, pain in your lower abdomen or pelvis and feeling generally under the weather.
How Much Should I Be Drinking?
A healthy adult needs around 1.5 – 2 litres (6-8 glasses a day) of water to maintain good bladder and bowel health, although, this will vary from person to person and will depend on age, weight, how much exercise you’ve performed and the general state of your health.
The Benefits of drinking water:
Helps maintain the balance of body fluids - It can be hard to believe that your body is composed of roughly 60% water! These bodily fluids are responsible for facilitating digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, maintenance of body temperature and transportation of nutrients. With all the work that water is doing in your body, it’s clear how thirst can be such an uncontrollable urge.
Energizes Muscles - Ever notice how your muscles cramp up when you’re dehydrated? When muscles lose their balance of fluids and electrolytes, they shrivel, which can result in muscle fatigue. It’s recommended that you drink about 17 ounces of fluid about 2 hours before you exercise in order to ensure your muscles stay hydrated and function properly.
Controls calories - Although water isn’t directly responsible for weight loss, it is a non-caloric fluid that should replace high calorie drinks such as soda and sugary juices. As water is a healthier, more filling option, it can trim your calorie intake and in turn assist in weight loss. So, next time you’re out for a meal, go for water instead of cola. Your body will thank you.
Keeps skin looking healthy - As your skin contains a high concentration of water, it’s important to keep hydrated to avoid it becoming dry and wrinkled. So rather than spending a pretty penny on anti-aging creams, simply drink plenty of fluids in combination with using your favorite moisturizer.
Regulating Your Fluid Intake:
If you suffer from bladder or bowel incontinence it can be helpful to regulate your fluid intake and drink at certain times of the day, with increased intake at the beginning of the day and drinking less towards bedtime to reduce the need of using the toilet at night. A bladder/bowel diary can be helpful in timing your intake.
If you find that your bladder or bowel symptoms don’t improve after adjusting your fluid intake, then it is important to seek advice from your GP or a medical professional.
Avoid or minimize intake of the following:
The Effects of Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol both act as a diuretic so will force fluids out of the body, which can lead to dehydration and exacerbate any existing symptoms of frequency and urgency. Caffeine and alcohol can also stimulate the bowel and can have a laxative effect.
The Effects of Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated drinks can over stimulate the bladder and contribute to stress incontinence. They can also leave you feeling bloated, cause excess wind and stomach pain.
Should I Be Drinking Cranberry Juice?
Cranberry juice has long been associated with the prevention of bacterial cystitis and UTI’s, however medical evidence is inconclusive. If you suffer from interstitial cystitis you should avoid acidic fruit juices including cranberry as this can exacerbate your symptoms.