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The Vegan Menopause Podcast -- Ep. 9 -- Could Your Menopause Symptoms Be Dehydration?

Updated: Apr 5

Dehydration could certainly be making your experience of menopause worse and I have some ideas for you to help, beyond drinking water.

The Standard American Diet, consisting of high amounts of salty processed foods or fast foods, sugary drinks, and low amounts of fresh vegetables, is very dehydrating, and most North Americans are probably mildly dehydrated.

Our bodies, and our cells really depend on water.  We are made up of about 60% water on average, but as babies, that number is more like 75%, and as we get older the percentage is slowly decreasing.

We lose water through elimination of bodily waste, sweating, and breathing. and as we get older, we become less sensitive to thirst.  

We might not feel thirsty as frequently, and if you are drinking only when you are thirsty, that might no longer be sufficient for what your body actually needs. 

If we don’t replace the water that is lost through our skin, lungs, and urination, certain symptoms of menopause can become worse.  

During menopause, the loss of estrogen tends to make us dry out.  If we are not putting enough water into the equation, this can become even more of a problem.  Dryness can affect your skin, eyes, organs, oral health, and vaginal health.  Although water is not the only factor when you are dealing with these issues, hydration plumps everything up.  Have you ever seen a flower that is starting to wilt and then you give it water and it is reinvigorated?

Proper hydration can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and also help protect against skin damage.

Headaches are highly affected by hydration levels.  The brain doesn’t have pain receptors, but the lining of the brain, called the meninges, does.  Dehydration can put traction on the meninges and cause pain.  Dehydration can also make migraines last longer.

It also affects joint pain and risk of injury – hydration helps keep our joints lubricated.  

Also if your fascia, also known as your connective tissue, becomes dehydrated, this causes pain and loss of mobility, which becomes a vicious cycle. 

Pain leads to less movement, that leads to even more pain, which leads to even less movement, and so on.

Hydration levels also have a big impact on digestive issues - the digestion process begins in your mouth.

If you are dehydrated and have a dry mouth, you might not have sufficient saliva for healthy digestion.  Saliva moistens the food and gets the whole process moving.  

And drinking enough water can help with managing cravings – sometimes we are not actually hungry, but dehydrated.

Cognitive function is also affected - a study in 2019 found that hydration levels affected attention/processing speed among females

Fatigue can be directly linked to dehydration as well.

UTI issues – we are more susceptible to urinary tract infections during menopause.  

This is not only caused by dehydration, but flushing out the urinary system by drinking water helps

Hot flashes can be eased by staying hydrated and sipping ice water (and side note - reducing your stress).

If you are not sensitive to caffeine – and I say that because caffiene can trigger hot flashes – and if you like to drink coffee or tea, I recommend drinking a glass of water first.

Alcohol also can trigger hot flashes and if you are going to drink it, I’d suggest drinking a glass of water before any alcohol-containing drink, because it has a dehydrating effect.

Do you need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?  That depends. It depends on your size and weight, activity level, if you have eaten salty foods, performed strenuous exercise, or if you are located in a hot climate, which affects how much water you are losing due to sweat. 

You may have heard that it can be dangerous to consume too much water at once because you could dilute your electrolytes and salts.  You would have to drink quite a bit of water all at once for that to be a serious problem, but sipping water throughout the day is easier on the system than consuming it all at once.

A rule of thumb for how much water to drink is if you weigh yourself in pounds, drink half that amount in ounces. So if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water, which would be just over six 12-ounce glasses.

If you have a dry mouth or dark colored urine, that is definitely a sign that you should drink more water, but ideally you shouldn’t let it get to that point.

You also don’t need to get all of your hydration directly from water.  

An unprocessed vegan diet is incredible for hydration because there is a high water content in fruits and vegetables, for example, cucumber is over 96% water.  

Many fruits and vegetables, even lettuce, are very high in water.  And the fiber in plants holds in the moisture, so eating ample amounts of them helps with hydration.

Foods like smoothies, oatmeal, soup, and especially chia seed pudding are hydrating as well.

If you’ve read the book Born to Run, it talks about a tribe in Mexico who are known for their distance running in extreme heat and the people drink a chia fresca, which is a lemonade-like drink that contains soaked chia seeds.  The chia provides hydration and energy for endurance.  Chia is also high in omega 3s which are super important for brain health, and lots of fiber, which is great for balancing hormones and crucial for digestion.

So, consider adding more soaked chia to your diet, whether that is a chia pudding or a chia drink, and increase your fruit and veggie consumption to help with your hydration, in addition to the water you are drinking.

I hope these hydration tips are helpful in reducing your symptoms of menopause.

Ready to elevate your experience of menopause? Book a free 30-minute Menopause Empowerment Call.

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