By Elisa Cottarelli | Team MM
Meg’s favourite bit of advice for handling the menopause is: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
We’ve always been told that we need to drink water (2L a day!) and it’s especially important now during the menopause. But why? The benefits of water are no secret, and can make all the difference.
Loss of estrogen
The menopause is caused by declining levels of hormones including estrogen. Since estrogen helps keep us hydrated, the menopause causes our bodies to lose the ability to retain water. So, even if growing up you did just fine without drinking a regular, healthy amount of water, your body now needs a little bit more help.
Drinking cool water at the onset of a hot flush can help regulate your body temperature. Cooling your body from the inside can help take care of the hot flush quickly and effectively. Likewise, if you suffer from night sweats, keeping a glass a water by your bed will make it easier to take care of the sweats if you suddenly wake up because of them. Finally, it’s important to rehydrate your body since you’re losing water when you sweat.
Your skin simply needs water to keep it plump and firm. In fact, your skin is usually the first place that shows signs of dehydration. Since the menopause naturally makes skin drier and itchier, drinking water can help reverse or lessen this effect!
Headaches are very directly associated with dehydration (which is why your head pounds with a hangover) and the menopause can cause headaches! A healthy amount of water a day can make your headaches disappear, or at the very least, not feel so horrible.
While it might not be the most obvious connection, joint pain can be caused by dehydration. This is because the cushioning around your joints need water to fill it up – like a sponge! It may take a while for this cushiony area to be refuelled, so don’t be discouraged if your joints don’t feel any better after a glass or two of water. It may take a few days or weeks to really start noticing the effects.
Digestion and bladder issues
Dehydration causes our digestive systems to slow down and our bladder to become irritated. So, the right amount of daily water can keep your digestion running smoothly and (very counterintuitively) help with incontinence. This will keep any bloating down too.
Fatigue, Anxiety, and Mood Swings
Water can keep our energy levels up, our anxiety low, and our moods in check. This is because dehydration directly affects your brain and your neural connections.
Memory loss, Concentration, and Foggy Brain
As above, dehydration affects brain functioning, making us feel foggier and more forgetful than normal!
If you’re not convinced, there’s more you need to know.
First, not all water is the same! Some studies suggest that sparkling water can stimulate the production of ghrelin, a hormone in your body that makes you hungrier. So, to avoid eating excessive food when you don’t need to, it’s best to stick to still water. Similarly, room temperature water is best for your metabolism, which will keep your digestion and weight in check.
Next, when should you drink water? Drinking water throughout the day is best! If you drink too much water at once, or drink your daily 2 litres in one go, this can put a lot of pressure on your stomach and kidneys and do more harm than good. Additionally, too much water can actually wash out essential minerals like magnesium and calcium, so a moderate amount is best.
Finally, teas, coffees, and juices aren’t a substitute for water just because they’re liquid. These drinks contain either caffeine (some teas and coffee) or sugar (juices), which can undo the great effects of drinking water. Even some herbal teas are made with flavourings, which might not be natural. If you think plain water is boring, try adding a bit of flavour with some grated ginger, lemon juice, or cucumber slices.
While it might seem like an unnecessary step to help your symptoms, drinking water can actually can work wonders! It’s such an easy and inexpensive way to help you through your symptoms that there’s no reason not to. Again, about 2 litres a day is typically recommended, though more may be needed if you’re losing water (from exercising or a particularly hot day, for example). It’s a simple step for a much healthier lifestyle, so get yourself a handy reusable bottle and start filling it up!