Stay Hydrated to Keep Your Glucose Level in Check

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

stay hydrated to keep glucose levels in check

Story at-a-glance -

  • If you have diabetes, you may experience an increased risk of organ damage with dehydration, resulting from a cascade of events beginning with rising concentrations of blood glucose, leading to fat burning and increasing dehydration as your body produces more urine
  • In Type 2 diabetes your cells are resistant to insulin, which temporarily increases as your glucose levels rise during dehydration. Water loss may be the result of exposure to excess heat, insufficient fluid intake, strenuous exercise or illness resulting in diarrhea and vomiting
  • Dangerous levels of dehydration may only take hours if you have diabetes and may lead to kidney failure requiring dialysis, and potentially death. Scientists find staying well-hydrated may play a role in how your body regulates blood sugar and reduces your risk for insulin resistance
  • A key component to being well-hydrated is getting water into your cells. Water found in cells is called exclusionary zone water by Gerald Pollack, Ph.D. By maintaining optimal hydration, you can improve your health and longevity

For the first time in more than 20 years, data from the National Center for Health Statistics1 showed a drop in life expectancy in 2015. Life expectancy dropped again in 2017.2 Although the 10 leading causes of death remained the same in 2017 as 2016, they accounted for only 74% of all deaths.3

One of the primary perpetrators of this decline is believed to be drug overdoses, but another major factor pinpointed by a supporting study4 is Type 2 diabetes. An update by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded more than 114 million American adults live with diabetes or prediabetes.5

While conventional medicine still has diabetes pegged as a blood sugar disorder, in reality it's a disease rooted in insulin resistance6 and faulty leptin signaling. In other words, it's a diet-derived condition.

Living with diabetes is challenging as elevated blood sugar affects multiple systems in your body and creates daily demands on your time and efforts. With the aid of psychometric tools,7 researchers have begun to realize the devastating effects diabetes has on individuals and family lives. Many of the comorbidities occurring with diabetes further deteriorate quality of life.

As the heat of summer is fast approaching, it is wise to understand the unique effects dehydration has on the body of those experiencing diabetes, and the available preventive measures to avoid hospitalization and potentially even death.

How Type 2 Diabetes Affects Your Body

Diabetes may exert short- and long-term effects on your body.8 Understanding these changes can help prevent complications from developing, including those from dehydration. The medical community's treatment of diabetes frequently includes the administration of insulin9 to treat the symptom of high blood sugar, and not the underlying insulin resistance and problem with leptin signaling.

Type 2 diabetes may be called noninsulin-dependent diabetes10 since your pancreas continues to produce insulin but the cells are unable to use it properly. In fact, it's an advanced stage of insulin resistance typically triggered by a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates.

Your body uses the hormone insulin to usher glucose into the cells for use as fuel. In the early to midstages of Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas secretes insulin, but the cells become resistant to the effect. Glucose is not able to enter the cells and therefore builds up in your bloodstream, triggering potentially serious health complications.11

While anyone may develop Type 2 diabetes, you are at higher risk if you are overweight, sedentary, have family members with Type 2 diabetes, have a history of metabolic syndrome or are a woman who has had gestational diabetes.12 Although millions suffer from the condition, it must not be considered an inevitable risk in life.

Those who have diabetes may be at higher risk for blindness, peripheral vascular disease, depression, kidney failure and heart disease.13 Some of the symptoms of uncontrolled high blood sugar include increased thirst and frequent urination.

You may find ketones in the urine, a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat, or you may experience increased fatigue and irritability or blurred vision.14 When you are dehydrated, it may affect your blood glucose measurements and produce a vicious cycle that can end in kidney failure and even death.

Click here to find out why 5G wireless is NOT harmlessClick here to find out why 5G wireless is NOT harmless

Causes and Symptoms of Dehydration

There are several factors that may trigger dehydration, especially during the summer months. Insufficient fluid intake, hot weather and strenuous exercise all contribute to a loss of fluid in your body. Dehydration may also occur with diarrhea, vomiting or alcohol intake.15

Your body is made up of 60% to 70% water, which is used in all cells, organs and tissues to help regulate temperature and maintain function.16 You normally will lose water through breathing, digestion and sweating. With adequate water intake, your body is able to remove waste products through perspiration and urination.

Your kidneys and liver use water to flush out waste products, and sufficient water intake helps you from becoming constipated by softening your stools. Anytime you're losing larger amounts of fluid from high heat and sweating, whether due to physical exertion or a fever, or if you experience vomiting or diarrhea, it is vital to increase your fluid intake to protect your body and your kidneys.

Although there is no hard-and-fast rule for how to ascertain your hydration needs, one of the best indicators of your hydration level is the color of your urine. Seek to achieve a light-yellow straw color. As it becomes darker, you are likely becoming dehydrated.17

Symptoms of dehydration include thirst, dry mouth and dry eyes, dizziness, fatigue and headache. As discussed, your urine will also be a darker yellow color. As dehydration becomes more severe, you'll experience low blood pressure, a weakened pulse, confusion and lack of energy.18

Without the added challenge of high blood glucose levels, or diabetes, rehydration is a simpler process. However, those who have diabetes experience unique cellular challenges, which may make it impossible to reverse the cascade of events happening as you become dehydrated without immediate medical help.19

The Vicious Circle of Dehydration in Those With Diabetes

Your kidneys are the primary organ managing the maintenance of your hydration status. When blood glucose levels go higher than they should be, your kidneys will attempt to remove the excess glucose by excreting it in your urine.20 To do this, the kidneys remove water from your blood. This triggers an increase in your level of thirst.

By drinking water, you help to rehydrate your blood and give your kidneys the available fluid to excrete excess glucose. However, as you become dehydrated, your body will attempt to pull water from other sources, such as your saliva, tears and water stored within your cells.21

When blood glucose levels are high, you'll experience a dry mouth and dry eyes as your body attempts to remove glucose by using water from other areas. These are some of the same symptoms you may experience when you're dehydrated from excess sweating, heat or illness.

This begins a vicious cycle that may ultimately end in organ damage. As your body loses fluid through heat, sweating or illness, glucose is left behind in the blood and your blood sugar concentration rises. In the second step of events, your blood vessels are unable to supply organs with nutrients as they normally would.22

Reaching a Dangerous Level of Dehydration May Only Take Hours

Inside your body, blood vessels start out large and gradually get narrower as they travel from the center to the inside of your organs and to your skin. At any given time, a good deal of your blood is located in these peripheral vessels.23

When you lose a significant amount of fluid, insulin and glucose cannot adequately reach these smaller vessels. This triggers your blood sugar concentration to climb higher still.

The higher your blood sugar goes, the higher the insulin resistance you experience. The more insulin resistant your cells are, the higher your blood sugars will rise. It creates a vicious circle, which is exacerbated as you become more dehydrated. At some point, the peripheral cells start metabolizing fat which creates ketones.24

In order to excrete the ketones, your kidneys must create more urine, and the more you urinate, the more severe your dehydration becomes. This sequence may occur in a matter of hours with illness or excessive sweating.

It's crucial you pay attention to your level of hydration to prevent this cascade of events triggering transitory insulin resistance, leading to a rise in blood sugar, development of ketones and increasing dehydration as your body attempts to excrete excess glucose and ketones.25

Dehydration May Lead to Kidney Failure

The result of extreme dehydration may lead to kidney failure, the need for dialysis and the potential for death.26 The association of dehydration with acute renal dysfunction is well-known and has largely been considered reversible when immediate medical care is available.

However, an epidemic of chronic kidney disease in Central America prompted a study27 to evaluate if mechanisms leading to kidney failure from recurrent dehydration may also lead to permanent kidney damage.

The researchers discovered three such pathways, leading to the conclusion that mild dehydration may be a risk factor in the progression of all types of chronic kidney disease and hydration may prevent chronic kidney disease.

According to the National Kidney Foundation,28 as you become dehydrated, it's more difficult for blood to deliver important nutrients and waste products to your kidneys. Mild dehydration may make you feel tired and impair normal body functions, but severe dehydration may lead to kidney damage.

Dehydration also causes a buildup of waste material in your body, which clogs your kidneys with muscle protein. This also works to damage kidney function. Maintaining adequate hydration reduces the risk kidney stones will form and helps dissolve antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections, thus making them more effective.29

Diabetes Insipidus Triggers Unique Issues

Diabetes insipidus is a special form of diabetes unrelated to blood sugar. In this condition, the body is unable to properly regulate the amount of water released through the kidneys. The condition leaves you extremely thirsty and producing large amounts of urine.30

In serious cases, urine output can be as much as 20 quarts a day. By comparison, a healthy adult will typically urinate an average of 1 to 2 quarts per day. Fluid regulation is managed by antidiuretic hormone (ADH), also called vasopressin. ADH is made in your hypothalamus and stored in the pituitary gland in your brain.31

Diabetes insipidus may be triggered in the brain after surgery, tumor or head injury. Nephrogenic diabetes insipidus occurs when there is a defect in the kidney tubules. Gestational diabetes insipidus is rare and occurs only during pregnancy when an enzyme made in the placenta destroys ADH in the mother.32

If you've been diagnosed with diabetes insipidus, your physician has likely advised you to drink a specific amount of water every day and may advise you to take specific fluids containing electrolytes should you be in a situation where dehydration is a potential risk.33

Optimal Hydration May Involve More Than Drinking Water

There are many reasons to maintain proper hydration. Recently, scientists have considered how the water you drink plays a role in how your body regulates blood sugar. Vasopressin, a hormone regulating water retention, is also involved in pushing the liver to produce blood sugar, which over time may trigger insulin resistance.34

In one of the largest studies35 to look at the consequences of dehydration, researchers evaluated 3,615 middle-aged men and women with normal baseline fasting blood glucose. They were recruited for a nine-year follow-up study and asked to calculate daily water intake based on self-administered questionnaires.

The researchers found 565 cases of hyperglycemia in the following nine years and concluded self-reported water intake was inversely and independently associated with the risk of hyperglycemia. The researchers found those who consumed the most water, 17 to 34 ounces per day, had a 30% lower risk than those who drank the least.36

One of the key components of proper hydration is getting the water into your cells. The type of water found inside the cell is known as exclusionary zone (EZ) water. This is also the type of water found in plants and in nature according to Gerald Pollack, Ph.D., author of “The Fourth Phase of Water.”37

This “fourth phase water,” EZ water, holds energy like a battery. One of the simplest ways is to incorporate this water into your cells is to eat more leafy green plant foods and structure the water already inside the body by exposing your bare skin to sunlight on a regular basis.

This type of hydration may help prevent early dehydration and may help improve health and longevity. To read more and discover effective strategies, see my previous articles, “Hydration Is About More Than Just Drinking Water — How to Hydrate at the Cellular Level to Improve Health and Longevity” and “Beat Fatigue and Heal Your Body Through the New Science of Optimum Hydration.”