There’s no way around it: water is essential for life. While most people know that they should drink more water throughout the day to promote everything from glowing skin to increased energy, most of us aren’t aware that it’s your route to healthy digestion! It’s time to trade that glass of wine or beer for several glasses of water — for your body’s sake.
Importance of Water
Despite the constant reminders to drink more water throughout the day, up to 75% of the US population is still estimated to be dehydrated! With the coffee and soda obsession in America, it’s no surprise that this dehydration comes at a heavy cost to your health. Water is literally in our nature! 70% of your body is made up of water, and nearly every bodily function requires a certain amount including:
- Cellular hydration,
- Cell communication
- Nutrient assimilation
- Nutrient delivery
- Body temperature regulation
- Liver and kidney detoxification
- Immune system function
and many other important processes that keep you up and moving! A constant intake of water is necessary for replacing the fluids lost through the respiration, perspiration, and urination that our bodies perform to keep us healthy. Not getting enough of it can lead to dehydration and the symptoms that come with it such as brain fog, weight gain, high blood pressure, fatigue, indigestion, constipation, headaches, and even skin problems!
Side Effects of Poor Hydration On Digestion
Ineffective Absorption + Delivery
Proper hydration is critical for digestive health. Like we mentioned above, not getting enough water leads to a plethora of not-so-fun side effects including indigestion and constipation. Your digestive systems simply can’t function as they’re supposed to without the proper amount of water to break down and extract nutrients from food. Those nutrients then have to be absorbed into the bloodstream where they are converted to usable energy forms and transported to the cells that need it all over your body. If you’re dehydrated, then it’s more difficult for this process to occur which can lead to ineffective absorption and lack of energy.
Drinking a big glass of water before a meal a great way to improve the digestion of your food. It prepares your gastrointestinal tract for the meal to come and enhances gastric secretions for proper nutrient breakdown.
Slow Saliva Production
Good ol’ H20 is absolutely essential in producing the digestive juices that break down our food from the beginning to the end of the digestive process. These juices are present from the time food enters your mouth in the form of saliva. Saliva helps us to start digesting carbohydrates and allows our food to become smooth enough for the stomach to start breaking down. With dehydration, less saliva is able to be produced which effects digestion from the very first step.
Stomach Acid Production
Stomach acid is the next link in the digestive chain to be impacted. Stomach acid breaks down our foods and to signal rest of the digestive process to keep rolling, and it it’s made up of a significant amount of water. Since it’s such a critical signaler to the rest of the digestive system, this sets you up for digestive upset and irritations of all sorts.
Detox and Elimination
Further along in the digestive process comes the colon, the effects of dehydration can be even more unpleasant to deal with. In addition to fatigue, and headaches, lack of water can cause the colon to reabsorb what water is left in waste. Constipation sets in, and if you’ve ever experienced this kind of bloating and discomfort then you know it’s not something you want to keep around. Thankfully, you can ward off those uncomfortable effects by staying on top of your H2O!
How Much Water Do I Need?
While a good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight (lbs) in ounces of water, this varies from person to person. The Mayo Clinic recommends women drink 9 cups (2.2 liters) of water daily, while men should aim for 13 cups (3 liters). This amount changes from person to person based on lifestyle. Your body will let you know if it needs more water, but it’s up to you to pay attention to the warning signs!
You can get some water from foods as well with favorites such as:
- TLS Shakes, when mixed with water
But, keeping your shaker bottle or purified water bottle nearby is always a good idea! Always remember to speak with your medical provider if you have any questions about the amount that is right for you.
How do you stay on top if hydration for summer?
Tell us in the comments below!