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Daily fluid requirements for people with IBS

We’ve all heard it before that we should drink plenty of water. So, what is the adequate daily requirement of water and why people with IBS should get enough fluid a day?

According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences men should drink approximately 3.7L (about 15.5 cups) and women 2.7L (about 11.5 cups) of water a day. All fluids count towards daily requirement whether they come from drinks or foods. This includes anything that is liquid at the room temperature: beverages, ice, soups, sauces, dressings, jello, ice cream, yogurt etc. Many fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of water, such as watermelon, cucumber or leafy greens. In fact, leafy greens get their crispiness from water content. Here is quick tip on how to keep your greens fresher for a longer period of time.  Dip the stems of the fresh herbs, spinach, lettuce and other greens in the water and store it in the fridge. If you store your greens without water, they will become soft and lose their crispiness quickly; this is because water content is lost.

Do all people need the same amount of fluid?

The amount of fluid you need depends on your age, sex, physical activity, geographical location, the diet or health condition. Older adults, pregnant and breastfeeding women, athletes and people who sweat heavily during exercise, people who live in hot and humid climate, as well as those who consume high sodium foods require more fluids. We also lose fluids daily as a part of normal human function through breathing, sweat, urine and stool, so we need to replenish it to avoid dehydration. So, drinking at least 2 liters of water a day will help you to stay hydrated and aid in prevention of adverse symptoms. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Water is considered an essential nutrient. Even though our body can produce water as a by-product of many chemical reactions, it is not enough to sustain life, besides, our bodies cannot store it. Thus, we need to consume fluids from foods and drinks. Without adequate water intake you may experience symptoms of dehydration, such as brain fog, headaches, loss of energy and muscle aches. Adequate fluid intake can help with constipation, kidney stones, dry skin and other conditions. Many chemical reactions in the body require water as a substrate, so I don’t have to tell you how important water is.

Numerous functions in the body depend on fluids:

  • Dissolution and transport of substances in the body⁠
  • Keeping a blood volume at certain level
  • Keeping a normal body temperature ⁠
  • Working together with electrolytes to keep them in balance⁠
  • Protection and lubrication of body tissues⁠

Many people in the US are not able to stick to general recommendations of fluid intake and drink much less. ⁠People with IBS may require more fluid than recommended and need to monitor their hydration behaviors. ⁠For example, people with IBS-D will need to drink extra fluids due to the loss with diarrhea to avoid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Extra hydration for people with IBS-C will help to soften the stool to prevent hard lumps and straining. In some cases, when people increase their fluids, they stop taking Miralax or other laxatives.

How do you know if you are hydrated?

Well, you should look at your urine color: if your urine looks pale, you are probably hydrated and if it has more like an amber color, you should evaluate your fluid intake. If your body tells you that you need extra fluids, you can drink plain water or low FODMAP drinks. Limit coffee and alcohol since these beverages are diuretics and may cause dehydration.

Here are some ways for people with IBS to sneak fluids in the body besides plain water:

1. Infused water.

Add different low FODMAP vegetables, fruits or herbs to plain water and keep it in the fridge overnight to enjoy the next morning. I like lime and peppermint water. It is so refreshing! Also, peppermint may help to reduce the bloating. ⁠

2. Plain or flavored ice.

Mash low FODMAP fruits, such as strawberries, mix in water and freeze in ice cube maker. You can add these ice cubes in water to give some flavor or simply suck on them. ⁠

3. Flavored shaved ice.

It can be made by blending ice cubes in a blender and adding your favorite low FODMAP fruit puree. Avoid adding sugary syrups because they may contain high fructose corn syrup. ⁠

4. Popsicles.

Popsicles can be made by pureeing low FODMAP fruits and combining them with lemon or lime to give a sweet and sour taste. Use popsicle molds to shape and freeze it. Mixing fruit juices with pureed fruits and water is another option. Bonus! Add pieces of fruits to your mixture, such as orange or kiwi, to give some flavor. ⁠⠀

Don’t wait till you get thirsty, because this is the sign of dehydration. Make it a habit and start drinking water daily. For example, you can drink a glass of water upon waking and before meals. You can also train yourself to drink after performing a certain task, such as checking your social media or email. Setting up an alarm on your phone and carrying a water bottle with you can also be a good reminder to drink your water.

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