Stress Less, Hydrate More
Did you know that stress can lead to dehydration and dehydration can lead to stress?
If a person is not adequately hydrated, they are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. In a 2018 study that compared 3,000 adults and their water intake, those who drank more water compared to those who drank less had a lower risk of anxiety and depression. On the other hand, certain stressors (such as a cancer diagnosis) can cause dehydration by elevating your heart rate, causing rapid or difficulty breathing and increased sweating.
Let talk about why this happens.
When you are dehydrated, your body works harder to run your organs and circulate blood. The more hydrated you are, the easier it is for your blood to flow. Dehydration, however, causes your blood to thicken, making it more difficult to pump. You may observe this when getting your blood drawn; if you are hydrated, your phlebotomist will have an easier time collecting your blood vs. when You are dehydrated your blood is thicker and harder to collect. Because your body is working harder, being somewhat dehydrated might raise the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol.
Any form of stress may cause you to have an elevated heart rate and lose fluids, as well as forget to drink water and eat meals due to a decreased appetite. These factors ultimately compile the stress onto your already overwhelmed body.
How do I know when I am dehydrated?
The first sign that you are dehydrated is simple: thirst. Another sign is feeling increased anxiety. Here are some other indicators that you are dehydrated:
- Dry mouth
- Skin changes: roughness or less elasticity
- Dark yellow or strong-smelling urine
- Higher blood pressure
- Fast heart rate
- Headache or nausea
- Light headedness, dizzy
If you have cancer and are going through treatment, hydration is even more critical because treatment side effects can induce life-threatening dehydration. Chemotherapy can harm your kidneys and liver if you do not drink enough water. Furthermore, treatment side effects such as diarrhea and vomiting cause fluid loss. In some cases, patients will need to be taken to the emergency room and placed on IV rehydration.
What are some tips to help me drink more water?
You should be drinking about half an ounce to an ounce of water based off every pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs. you should be drinking about 75-150 ounces (about 4.44 L) a day. This number would increase or decrease depending on the climate, how much you exercise and the amount of stress in your life.
Here are some additional tips on how to start consuming more water:
- Carry a refillable water bottle
- Always have a glass of water on your desk or when watching TV
- Have water next to your bed at night to sip on when you wake
- For every glass of soda or coffee, drink 1-2 glasses of water. Even better, try replacing those cups of coffee or soda with water.
- Drink water slowly throughout the day. Do not try to chug your body weight in water in once sitting because this can cause another issue called water intoxication.
What about an electrolyte-based drink?
Electrolyte-based hydration solutions can sometimes be more effective than water. Drinking too much water might produce an electrolyte imbalance by flushing away vital nutrients and, in extreme cases, cause water intoxication.
Try replacing one of your cups of water with a sports drink or oral rehydration solution. Both contain a healthy dose of electrolytes that replenish what the body loses when it is dehydrated. Electrolytes help to absorb water more efficiently into your cells than water alone.
A great option for replacing electrolytes is enterade. Enterade is a clinically proven, plant-based medical food that helps to manage the side effects from cancer treatment. Using Hydro Active Technology, enterade is formulated to hydrate better than leading sports drinks, oral rehydration solutions, and even water. Furthermore, enterade can help relieve discomfort from diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dehydration, and unwanted weight loss. Enterade’s unique blend of plant-based amino acids helps by rebuilding the cells that line your intestines, fortifying your gut against the damage caused by cancer treatments.