Having ileostomy surgery at 21-years-old, I did not take hydration very seriously. Many doctors and nurses told me that maintaining fluids was a lifelong commitment, but that advice unfortunately didn't sink in until my mid 30's. I've had many trips to the emergency room due to dehydration, and thankfully I started to feel better after an hour or so hooked up to an IV solution.
For many years sports drinks, soda and fancy coffee drinks were my main beverages of choice (no wonder I was dehydrated). I've learned that those beverages are filled with artificial ingredients, synthetic additives and food dyes — that's not good. These days I look for healthy alternatives that work for my body, not against it. Here are five beverages that help me stay hydrated with an ostomy.
1. Lemon Water
This one is really simple, but the effects are profound. Adding this powerful citrus fruit to water is a tasty way to stay hydrated and keep my digestion in motion.
What I do: start the day with a big glass of water and a few squeezes of lemon first thing in the morning to feel energized.
2. Natural Herbal Tea
Ginger root tea and peppermint tea have been known to improve digestion and there’s some evidence to back that they can have a powerful effect on headaches too. Herbal teas have distinct scents and taste, plus many are naturally caffeine-free. Chamomile is one of my favorites because it has a calming effect.
What I do: Boil water. Place mint leaves, peeled ginger root or tea sachets in a cup and cover with water, steep for about 5 minutes. Remove after steeping, or sometimes I just leave them in.
3. Golden Milk
Golden Milk (also called turmeric tea) is the ultimate bedtime concoction, it’s soothing and delicious. The combination of turmeric, coconut milk, sweeteners, and spices is warming and it’s something that helps me with sleep issues. And bonus — the recipe is easy!
What I do: Warm 2 cups of coconut milk and 1 teaspoon of turmeric in a pot, whisk until fully mixed. Then add a dash of cinnamon, honey or maple syrup to taste.
4. Infused Filtered Water
Water is the best thing I can put in my body, yet I snubbed it for years because it's sort of boring. I need to drink more water to stay hydrated and prevent headaches. There are simple, delicious recipes that can make drinking water interesting again! Fruit and herb infused water is so popular that you can even buy infuser water bottles and pitchers.
What I do: I drink at least half my body weight in ounces of water each day (ex. if you weight 120lbs, drink 60oz of water).
5. Green Drink
I never ate fruit or vegetables on a regular basis prior to my ostomy surgery, so I think that's why I had so much trouble digesting them with an ileostomy (that and dehydration). Eating fresh organic greens is important for good health, so I found an alternative in smoothies and green drinks. I've been making green juice for over five years, it's rare that I miss a day.
What I do: Juicers are great, but it's easy to use a blender and pour blended greens through a fine mesh strainer.
The big challenge for me is how to maintain drinking plenty of fluids every single day. I've learned to set out tea and water cups where I can see them. I fill up reusable water bottles the night before, so they’re easy to grab when I leave the house. But the real hydration happens when I drink fluids that my body embraces.