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The down & dirty on women's wellness
Why I Hate Liquid IV
& Other Issues with Hydration
Why I Hate Liquid IV
& Other Issues with Hydration
August 1, 2021
I am seeing more & more patients in the clinic who are gleefully sharing with me that they have adopted the regular consumption of Liquid I.V. as a health-promotion habit. I cringe every time I see someone who has determined that s/he is more hydrated as a result of this new, costly habit. Liquid I.V., for one thing, is filled with sugar. Sugar does not hydrate us. Rather, sugar robs us of our fluids as our bodies try to clear (or store) the excess. We consume enough sugar (or molecules that act like sugar) in our Western diet to keep our cells happily stuffed full of glucose, which means that adding more sugar to the mix just results in our bodies having to try to figure out what to do with the added sugar. There are two options: store it for later use or excrete the excess. The excretion process requires that the sugar be processed by our kidneys & liver, which rely on water to evacuate toxins. Our urine is the primary solvent for the excess sugar, & we have to lose water to lose that extra sugar. Therefore, that Liquid I.V. habit isn't just NOT helping you--it is likely actively harming you.
Just drink water instead. Yes, just water. Still, sparkling, whatever. Plain water is fine. Unless you are mineral-starved because you are not getting enough of the -ums (calcium, magnesium, selenium, sodium, potassium) in your diet. In that case, reach for the Evian, Gerolsteiner, or Topo Chico & get some electrolytic assistance with your hydration. Please note that Gatorade, Gatorade Zero, Powerade, & Propel are not on that list. All of those drink options do not serve to improve your hydration & actually do the opposite because of the ingredients they contain. Plain old water is all you need.
Many people will protest, telling me they can't stand the taste of water & that they need a little flavor. We have become so accustomed to sugar-sweetened (or sweetener-sweetened) drinks in America that many of us find something lacking when we drink plain old water. Although water is the quickest, easiest way to hydrate, there are many options for accentuating your water that will spice up the flavor without detracting from your hydration success. As the National Academies of Medicine now recommends that women consume 2.7L (about 11 8oz cups) of water each day, we may find that we need a little variety in what it is we are consuming. Here are a few of my favorite tricks for avoiding dehydration & meeting my own 2.7L daily quota:
1. Coffee counts. Yes, that's right. As long as you don't sweeten it, even the caffeinated beverages do not have an adverse effect on your hydration status--until you exceed 40 ounces of consumption, which is six 8 ounce cups of coffee or tea. I love my morning coffee, which I flavor with a splash of heavy cream, & I relish all 20 ounces of it throughout the morning, knowing that the fluid intake will help lubricate my joints, keep my mental faculties sharp, & prevent infections.
2. Mix it up. One of my favorite gadgets of all time is a borosilicate glass infuser with a small stainless steel strainer seated at the mouth of the vessel & a leak-proof lid. There are all varieties of this sort of vessel, & they are, by & large, inexpensive. A decent one can be purchased for under $5. What I love about these vessels is that you can add anything you like to water, hot or cold, which allows for novel experimentation & fun with what you might like to add to your water. From loose-leaf herbal tea blends to fruity or savory flavors from real fruit, vegetables, or herbs, I delight in what has become a ritual for me-- the art of adding variety & flavor to my water without adding such thinks as Mio drops (which are filled with chemical additives & those dehydrating sweeteners). Throughout the day, I will continue to add water to my glass until the flavor wanes. It is a fun way to benefit from the hydrating power of water & add an infusion of vitamin C or flavenoids, depending on where my whim takes me on any particular day.
3. Eat your water! Remember that a juicy peach is bursting with summery flavor but also with water. That broth from your soup? Yep, that counts, too. Cucumbers are almost entirely composed of water (& have additional health benefits). Choose fresh fruits & vegetables that will allow you to passively consume extra fluids--when you stay well-hydrated, your body more effectively & efficiently utilizes the nutrients you consume. And, adequate hydration goes a long way in helping you lose & maintain a healthy weight. When you choose a snack food, think about how it might help or harm your hydration status.
If you are wondering whether you are adequately hydrated or if you need to improve your hydration game, start with consuming 2.7L of fluid on a regular basis. You should watch your urine become colorless. This prevents kidney stones & other renal diseases but also optimizes your body's ability to flush toxins. You don't need an intensive, expensive detox regimen. You were born with the best detox system you can find--you just need to support your liver & kidneys in performing to the best of their ability, & that starts with adequate hydration. If you're in the area & wondering about your hydration status, we love body composition analysis for what it can tell us about the percentage of your body weight that is composed of water. We always encourage you to strive to have a minimum of 40% of your body be composed entirely of that gloriously helpful water.