Benefits of Staying Hydrated With IBS & IBD


Keys to Staying Hydrated All year 

Hydration has been on top of mind for a lot of us lately as temperatures soar during the summer months. The hot, humid weather should act as a reminder to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration – a potentially dangerous condition that can occur when we neglect to drink adequate amounts of liquid before, during, or after strenuous activity. Dehydration can lead to confusion, mood changes, constipation, kidney stones, changes in blood pressure, and higher body temperatures, not to mention digestive side effects. Though the body has an amazing system for signaling to our brains when we’re thirsty, we cannot rely solely on feelings of thirst. Being proactive and consistent with our fluid intake is key to preventing dehydration and its negative side effects, and this is compounded in irritable bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients with a symptom like diarrhea.

Water is critical to overall human well-being – we can survive much longer without food than we can without water. As an essential nutrient, water supports cell structure, helps regulate body temperature, lubricates joints and organs, transports nutrients throughout the body, and keeps digestive symptoms like constipation at bay. Daily fluid intake recommendations vary by age, gender, activity level, and presence of a chronic or an acute health condition. Under regular circumstances, daily water intake should be about 2.7 liters (91 ounces) for women and 3.7 liters (125 ounces) for men.



How do you stay Hydrated with IBS?

Adequate hydration is increasingly important for individuals with chronic conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). IBS patients are advised to drink up to 1.5-3 L (35 mL/kg) of fluid per day to replace fluid loss from diarrhea and/or to help manage constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, and other IBS symptoms. Patients with IBD and IBS also have an increased need for liquids when experiencing flares, as the fluid loss can be high from increased diarrhea and ostomy output. Individuals with Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis may also benefit from fluids with added electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride, to fight dehydration more effectively. However, beware of oral rehydration solutions or sports drinks on the market – these might not have the best ingredient profile to accomplish electrolyte replenishment for IBS and may be too high in sugar and too low in sodium. It is important to speak to your doctor and/or dietitian about safe fluid replacement during IBS-related flares.

Water alone is not the sole source of hydration. Many beverages containing water, such as juice, tea, coffee, and dairy/non-dairy substitute products also count towards your total fluid intake. Hydration can even be obtained via certain foods. For instance, cantaloupe, cucumbers, strawberries, and spinach have the highest water content, while a carbohydrate like bread or almonds has the lowest. Therefore, we do not need to rely solely on fluids to fight dehydration. Consuming more fruits and vegetables, which have added natural vitamins and fiber, is a great supplement to help us maintain adequate fluid levels, reduce IBS symptoms and boost bowel health.



Alcohol and Hydration

One type of fluid that may be counterproductive to hydration, particularly to those with IBS, is alcohol. Alcohol can act as a diuretic on the body, causing increased fluid losses as it signals the kidneys to excrete increased fluids instead of retaining a normal healthy level. Alcohol is also a bowel irritant if consumed in large quantities, especially if you react to the FODMAP content found in drinks like rum and very sweet wines.  People with IBS should also avoid alcoholic carbonated drinks, like champagne or prosecco, due to the propensity to cause bloating, leading to gas and abdominal pain. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, safe alcohol limits are described as no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men. A drink is defined as 12 oz of regular beer (5% alcohol), 5 oz of wine (12% alcohol), or 1.5 oz of 80-proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol). Drink in moderation and consider alternating with another beverage between cocktails at the next party or barbeque. Enjoy all of your summer activities, but in order to mitigate IBS symptoms and remain free of gastrointestinal distress, be sure to make an effort to hydrate properly, embrace lifestyle changes, and introduce dietary modifications – there are so many beverage and food items to choose from!


Resources that can help you:

Mount Sinai Make an appointment at the Feinstein IBD Clinical Center here or contact the office at 212.241.8100.

Epicured For exceptional low FODMAP, IBD-friendly prepared meals delivered right to your door, visit our menu.

PURCHASE Our Cold Brew with Almond Milk!


DISCLAIMER: Mount Sinai is an investor in Epicured. This material is for informational purposes only, and Mount Sinai makes no representation or guarantee as to any results or experience with Epicured. You should consult with your physician before using a dietary program such as Epicured. Mount Sinai employees do not receive material benefit from endorsing or recommending Epicured. 

Laura Manning is not employed by Epicured. Laura is a full-time employee of the Mount Sinai Health System and receives no compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Epicured. 


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