What type of water is best for the menopause?


Eileen Durward
@EileenDurward


05 June 2017

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blogs, And today on A. Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about water.

Now, for those of you in the U.K., I'm sure you read just recently, there's been articles in the newspapers saying, that fizzy water can make you fat. Now I thought, this is really interesting. You know, I, like everybody else thought that water was calorie free. So how on earth can water make you fat?

How can water make you fat?

It turns out that fizzy water can stimulate the production of a hormone in the body called ghrelin. And ghrelin is what makes you hungry, it's what increases your appetite. So if you’re drinking a lot of fizzy water during the day, this could be contributing to you eating a bit more, or finding that you can't control your appetite quite so much. And we know that in the menopause that weight gain can be a bit of a problem anyway. So, if we're actually contributing it with fizzy water, then that's not a particularly good thing. 

Water, water, water

Now I get asked on a regular basis about water. Women listen to my blogs, and all of you that have been watching for a while will know that I talk constantly about how important water is for you during the menopause.

But women want to know what sort of water. Will this be okay? Will that be okay? So, I thought today I would use this opportunity to do a little bit of revision work, and I know there are an awful lot of you out there that have contacted me to say that adding more water into their daily diet has made a huge difference to their symptoms. But there'll be those of you who are may be watching for the first time and are probably wondering what all the fuss is about with plain water.

Why is water so important?

So, what we're going to look at first of all is, why drinking a lot of water is important for you during the menopause. Now, our hormone oestrogen does a huge number of things in the body, but one of the things that it can help with is water retention.

Now I don't mean it in a bad way, but if you think about it, our body is about 75% water, and there has to be some mechanism of keeping water in the body where it’s actually needed, and where it's going to be used, and when it's needed.

Oestrogen

So, oestrogen, our hormone oestrogen is part of the mechanism for keeping our body nicely hydrated. Unfortunately, when our oestrogen level starts to fall in the menopause, the body's ability to retain water decreases, and that can cause a huge raft of problems.

Skin & joint health 

Now, we know that water is very important for joint health, it's important for keeping our skin lovely and plump, and soft, and smooth, and wrinkle free.

Brain function

Water is really important for brain function. If we don't get enough of it, we get horrible and foggy feelings. We can have memory problems. We can just feel really not quite there.

Energy

Water is needed for energy production. And if we don't have enough water, we can feel fatigue and the changing hormones in the menopause causes fatigue as well. So we can end up with a double whammy of a huge number of menopause symptoms, just because we're not getting enough water. And that’s before the hot flushes or the night sweats that start, for those of you who get them. 

Nervous system

And we know too, that low water can have a big impact on our nervous system, and it can trigger a panic attack, it can trigger palpitations. And this scenario of the nervous system going into overdrive can trigger hot flushes as well.

So if you're getting hot flushes or night sweats, you can get dehydrated very quickly, and that dehydration will then trigger more hot flushes and night sweats. So it can become a real big vicious circle. 

What's the best water to have?

So, what's the best water to have? What are the best drinks to have in the menopause? Well, unfortunately, it’s just plain water.

Fizzy water, as I've said before, keep that as a little bit of a treat or if you need to flavor something that you're not particularly keen on the taste.

If you are living in an area where the tap water is okay to drink, then that's absolutely fine. You know, there's no reason why we can't enjoy some lovely tap water. If the water is not particularly good in your area, then we need to look at bottled water. 

Water storage

Plastic bottles

Now, unfortunately, there are quite a few issues with water stored in plastic bottles. So, there are different types of plastics. Some are safer than others, so maybe do a little bit of a Google or some research as to which plastic bottle would be the least harmful for us.

Glass bottles

Other than that, you can go for water in glass bottles, which would probably be best, but I know they’re a lot more expensive. The other thing you can do is invest in a good water filter and that can often pay for itself over quite a short period of time. 

When to drink water?

So, when do you drink water? This is another important thing. Your body needs water all the time, right from the minute you get up till you go to bed, and also while you're sleeping. So it's needed on a constant basis. So it's better if you can split the water up during the day.

We're looking at roughly a litre and a half to two litres a day. You don't want to drink too much. I mean, I've had people contacting me and they’ve been drinking, you know, three or four litres of water a day.

For the majority of people, that is going to be too much and that can stress your kidneys, and it can flush wonderful minerals like magnesium out of the body. So, one and a half to two litres for most people is absolutely fine. 
 
Now, what I do, I tend to have a nice glass of water when I get up in the morning. In the morning, first thing, it's nice to have it warm because it just sets the body up for the day.

If you drink water that is too cold, that can really shock your stomach and it can shock your digestive system. And I know in the summer, it's lovely to have a nice cool drink of water, but if you drink it too quickly, that could cause digestive problems.

So if you're already suffering a little bit with your digestion, then make sure that the water's at least at room temperature. What you can do during the day is then just sip it as and when you need it, or you can take the odd glass here and there.

If you have things like dehydration during the night, if you have hot flushes, night sweats, if you have joint pain, or if you are waking up with anxiety, if you're waking up with creaky sore joints, then taking a little shot glass of warm water just before you go to bed can often work wonders. 

How much should I drink?

Now, a little shot glass is all you need. If you drink too much, you'll be up at the toilet in the middle of the night, which we don't want. And having it warm calms the system down. If you drink cold water just before you go to bed, it could keep you awake. So, just a little shot glass of warm water, maybe about half an hour before you go to bed can be absolutely wonderful for all sorts of things. 

What not to drink

Now, what not to drink apart from the fizzy water. We're looking at tea, that’s caffeine, we're looking at coffee, we're looking at fizzy drinks. The problem here with these drinks is they tend to be very dehydrating.

So, you can think to yourself, “Oh, I'm drinking three or four cups of tea a day, I'm drinking plenty of water.” But the chemicals in these drinks, the natural chemicals in these drinks can flush things like calcium and magnesium out of the body, which we need for our bones, and our mood, and for relaxation, and sleep.

So, if you drink tea and coffee, then it's really important to keep those to a minimum. And if you can go organic, because a lot of these drinks…the ordinary ones have lots of…have been used with pesticides and things like that.

So, try and go organic if you can. Fizzy drinks should be avoided absolutely non-stop, purely because there's lots of chemicals in them, there's lots of sugar in them, or there’s artificial sweetness. 

Don't forget herbal teas...

Herb teas are great as well but just make sure that they are pure herbs only.

Lots of ‘herb teas’ contain flavourings which may or may not be natural so best avoided!

And again, please, please, please, don't have any drinks with artificial sweeteners in them. These can cause havoc in the menopause. They can interfere with your insulin resistance, with your blood sugar control, and there’s thoughts that they might actually stress the liver. And all these things can be under pressure anyway because of the falling hormones.

So, please avoid artificial sweeteners. And don't have any of these flavored drinks that you get from the supermarket, because most of them…I mean, if you look at the ingredients, water's up there, but there's usually E numbers, there’s sucrose, or corn syrup, or sugar, or artificial sweeteners in them. And these are not going to help you at all. 

Just plain boring water

Water by itself, yes, you know, it can be really boring just looking at a glass of plain water and thinking, “Oh, I’d rather have a cup of coffee or a cup of tea.” But you can flavor them naturally. My favorite one is to put some grated ginger, some chopped cucumber, sometimes a little bit of mint, and maybe some lemon or lime juice. And I find that really nice to drink during the day.

Experiment with flavours

So, you've got a lot of choices. You know, have an experiment with flavoring your own water. And you can now get these great bottles that have a little portion in the middle so you can put all the flavored things in there, but they don't swirl about the rest of the water, so you’re not actually going to drink them, but they help to keep the water nicely flavored. 

Try adding water to your daily life

So, for those of you who thought that drinking fizzy water every day is as good as plain water, I'm really sorry to have to disappoint you on that. For those of you, who have just joined us, then try adding more water into your daily life, and I'm sure you'll be really surprised, and even possibly astonished by the results. 
 
So I hope this has given you a little bit of insight into how even the most common and mundane foods and drinks can have quite a big impact on us in the Menopause. So I will look forward to seeing you next week for some more of A. Vogel Talks Menopause.

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  • Sue Camp's photo avatar
    Sue Camp — 15.06.2017 07:15
    Hi Eileen Since my menopause started I'm drinking loads of tap water each day and only one coffee. Surprisingly I've lost a stone and a half. I've seen my GP but he didn't seemake too worried! Could there be a simple explanation? Sue

    Reply

    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 15.06.2017 13:46
      Hi Sue Great to hear that you are drinking lots of water, well done! If you had been drinking a lot of tea and coffee with milk and sugar the calories in this can add up quite quickly so this may be one reason. Have you changed your diet at all, even cutting down on carbs can cause a steady weight loss? The falling hormones can also affect thyroid function, most women tend to put weight on but for a few women the opposite happens. All I would suggest is that if you continue to lose weight and you haven't changed your diet or taken up a lot of exercise then it is best to go back to your doctor and ask them for a thyroid test.

      Reply

  • Chris constantinou's photo avatar
    Chris constantinou — 07.06.2017 17:00
    Dear (lifesaver) Eileen, I'm so grateful to you and your advice . You really do 'say it as it is'! You're my lifeline

    Reply

    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 08.06.2017 12:46
      Hi Chris Thank you so much for your lovely comments! :)

      Reply

  • E Austin's photo avatar
    E Austin — 07.06.2017 11:46
    I was a little disappointed by your article as I thought you really were going to give advice on the best water to drink. I try to keep a watchful eye on my water intake and I've noticed that I definitely respond to different types of bottled water. For example, some seem to have a very high sodium content etc which in me makes my face / body swollen. In fact, bottled water is a minefield. And my tap water, with its high chlorine content, is another ! I wonder if these extreme reactions are age-related ( never noticed when younger) and if so, why ? Thank you so much for your varied and helpful articles x

    Reply

    • eileen's photo avatar
      eileen — 07.06.2017 12:53
      Hi E Sorry, if I didn't cover this but water, as you have discovered, is really a personal taste and if I only recommended certain types of water there would be those ladies who didn't like it! I think we are in a difficult situation as most tap waters are full off chemicals and water in plastic bottles is often not good, I would prefer water in glass bottles but these are much more expensive especially if you drink a lot! I think we can get more sensitive as we get older but we are also exposed to so many more chemicals these days that sometimes our body gets an overload and responds with an allergic reaction.

      Reply

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