Water for Diabetes

Water plays a significant role in the lives of people with diabetes. For starters, people with diabetes are at high risk of being dehydrated due to excessive urination (a hallmark symptom of the disease). Dehydration can lead to numerous health conditions, including high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Christine Zalnieraite

2022 Sep 30

8 min read

Water plays a significant role in the lives of people with diabetes. For starters, people with diabetes are at high risk of being dehydrated due to excessive urination (a hallmark symptom of the disease). Dehydration can lead to numerous health conditions, including high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

When it comes to benefits, drinking water can help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels by promoting lower blood sugar but also help you lose weight, which can help you cope with many symptoms of diabetes.

In this article, we’ll discuss the relationship between water and diabetes. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Importance of water intake for people with diabetes
  • How much water should you drink?
  • Can you drink other beverages?
  • Tips for drinking more water

Let’s get started.

Importance of Water Intake for Diabetes Patients

water for diabetes

Water is important for all individuals because it affects various general health areas. For people with diabetes, staying hydrated is even more important because it affects glucose levels and many other health factors associated with diabetes mellitus.

Hydration Is Essential for Numerous Body Functions

Overall, hydration is crucial for a well-functioning body and mind because water plays a role in nearly all body functions. 

On a micro level, water is responsible for dissolving minerals and nutrients so that they become available for the body and also aids in transporting nutrients and oxygen to the body cells. 

Additional water functions include body temperature regulation, protection of organs and tissues, and joint lubrication. 

People With Diabetes Are More Susceptible to Dehydration

A common symptom of diabetes is high blood sugar, which the body cannot regulate because insulin doesn’t work properly. When this happens, the kidney attempts to get rid of excess glucose by eliminating it through urine.

If the body isn’t properly hydrated, the kidneys rely on water from important tissues like brain tissue, potentially causing severe dehydration. 

Water Promotes Normal Blood Glucose Levels

Dehydration can increase blood sugar levels. This is because when there isn’t enough water in the body, it cannot dilute blood sugars, leading them to add up and concentrate in the blood. 

As such, drinking water can effectively lower your blood sugar levels. It can also prevent high blood sugar in the first place because blood sugars can be diluted immediately when the body is properly hydrated. 

Water Promotes a Healthy Weight

Proper hydration is crucial in a weight loss diet for multiple reasons. 

For starters, the body often confuses dehydration with hunger. As such, being dehydrated can lead to overeating. 

Moreover, water is an appetite suppressant because it passes through the body quickly and triggers a feeling of fullness. 

Water also plays an essential role in fat burning. When the body is dehydrated, it cannot metabolize stored fat properly. Lipolysis (the process of metabolizing fat) starts with the interaction between water and fats. If there isn’t enough water in the body, lipolysis cannot occur efficiently. 

Research also indicates that water can help you burn more calories. According to a study, participants who drank 500ML of water experienced increased energy expenditure. 

Last but not least, water can help you decrease the consumption of high-calorie drinks such as fruit juices, lowering your overall daily calorie intake. 

All of these factors ultimately result in more weight loss, and multiple studies have shown this to be true. 

According to one study, consuming water before a meal led to a 22% reduction in calorie intake. Unsurprisingly, another study showed that participants who drank water before meals lost 44% more weight than those who did not drink water before meals. 

Dehydration Leads to High Cortisol 

Research shows that chronic dehydration increases cortisol (the stress hormone), and cortisol has been linked to increased weight gain. 

Chronic high levels of cortisol can put you at risk of numerous health problems because it decreases the functioning of the immune system. 

Cortisol affects nearly all organs in the body and can lead to serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and hypertension. 

Moreover, if you’re under stress, you’re more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as unhealthy eating, alcohol consumption, and spending too much time in sedentary activities such as using smartphones. 

Short-Term Dehydration Has Unpleasant Side Effects

Even in the short term, dehydration can bring negative side effects such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, rapid heartbeats, confusion, and irritability. 

Water Is Essential for Brain Function

Nearly 85% of the human brain is made up of water. As such, it’s not surprising that dehydration can lead to numerous negative effects on the brain, including lack of focus, depression, brain fog, and reduced cognitive function. 

How Much Water Should You Drink?

water for diabetes

According to health experts, people should consume at least 2 liters of water per day. 

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Can You Drink Other Beverages?

You might wonder if replacing water with other beverages is okay. The answer is that it depends. Pure water is considered the best method of hydration because it is calorie-free and provides essential minerals. 

If you’d like to drink other fluids instead, here are the safest fluids for people with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association: 

  • Unsweetened coffee 
  • Unsweetened teas such as green tea
  • Sugar-free soda 
  • Other store-bought low-calorie drinks

Milk and fruit juices can also be consumed, but with certain considerations to avoid blood sugar spikes.

How to Drink Milk

If you’d like to drink milk, it is recommended to do so in moderation because milk contains carbohydrates.

Additionally, try to opt for fat-free and low-fat milk options. Additionally, you can try dairy-free kinds of milk like almond milk and coconut milk. Some of these milk varieties are very nutritious and low in calories and carbohydrates. However, you need to ensure they’re unsweetened, as some of them have added sugars. 

How to Drink Fruit Juices

While fruit juices are generally not recommended because they contain natural sugars, you can drink them in moderation. 

Additionally, make sure that the juice you buy doesn’t contain added sugars, and try to opt for options that are the lowest in calories, such as grapefruit juice, watermelon juice, and strawberry juice. 

Drinks to Avoid

People with diabetes should avoid certain drinks because they’re high in calories and sugars:

  • Naturally high-sugar fruit juices like grape juice and pomegranate juice
  • Sweetened energy drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages, particularly cocktails
  • Soda (unless it’s diet soda)
  • Sugary drinks overall

How to Drink More Water

water for diabetes

If you struggle to incorporate a good amount of water into your daily routine, you’re not alone. Many people have a hard time committing to a specific amount of water per day. Luckily, there are ways to get around this problem. 

Acknowledge the Importance of Water

As we’ve discussed previously, water is tremendously important for your health, particularly if you have diabetes. 

The first step to ensuring you drink more water is acknowledging the benefits of doing so. This will boost your motivation and, in turn, make it easier for you to commit to a daily water intake routine.

Have a Daily Goal

Setting a daily water intake goal is a great way to hold yourself accountable and ensure you remember to hydrate yourself. 

Setting goals is also generally helpful because it gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivates you to keep going.

Try an App

There are many apps available specifically for tracking your water intake. These apps include reminders to drink water and tracking tools to ensure accountability. 

Create a Routine

Having a specific routine for drinking water – for example, before every meal and every morning when you wake up – can turn water drinking into a habit. Over time, your body will get used to this routine, and abide by it naturally, ensuring you always reach your daily water goal. 

Carry a Water Bottle With You

If you spend most of your time outside your house, it may be easy to forget to drink water. To solve this issue, always carry a water bottle with you.

Eat Foods That Are High in Water

Foods like cucumbers, grapefruits, and zucchini are made up mostly of water. Adding these foods to your diet can help you consume more water naturally.

Try Sparkling Water or Flavored Water

If you find plain water boring, you may be tempted to have drinks with excess sugar.

Instead of that, you can try to drink sparkling water instead. Additionally, you can try to flavor your water to taste better.

Here are some flavored water ideas you can try:

  • Lemon and basil water
  • Cucumber and mint water
  • Strawberry water
  • Grapefruit and pomegranate water
  • Ginger water
  • Sugar-free lemonade

The great thing about flavored water is that it is easy to make and comes with minimal calories because there’s no extra sugar.

Mix around half a cup of fruits with 5 cups of water to make flavored water and leave them refrigerated for up to 24 hours. 

Infused waters can be consumed safely for up to 3 days after they’re made, as long as they’re refrigerated. 

Reward Yourself

Setting weekly rewards for achieving your water goals is a great way to boost motivation. As you feel the pleasure of getting a certain reward, you’ll be more motivated the following week to commit to your water drinking routine.


water for diabetes

Water consumption affects various areas of your overall health and diabetic-specific issues such as blood sugar levels.

If you need help in tracking your water intake, make sure to try the Klinio app. It allows you to track your water intake and various other health-related aspects such as your diet and physical activity.

Written by

Christine Zalnieraite

Christine is a registered and licensed dietitian (RD, LD) with more than eight years of professional experience. Christine is an expert in dietetics that includes human nutrition and the regulation of the proper individual diet. She alters patient's nutrition based on their medical condition and individual needs. Education: Master’s degree in Human Nutrition and Food Safety and two Bachelors of Science - Bachelor in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, and Human Nutrition and Food Safety. Also, she continues to deepen her knowledge in Ph.D. studies of Medical Science and Dietetics.

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