This is going to sound weird, but hydration is hip right now. Some popular trends include drinking a gallon of water each day, chugging water to “reduce cravings,” or having lemon water in the morning. You may be considering incorporating one of these into your daily routine, but first ask yourself, why? What is drinking all this water going to do for my gut health?
Why is hydration important?
Keeping your body hydrated by drinking the recommended amount of water each day is important for transporting and absorbing nutrients, energy metabolism, healthy skin, and repleting water losses. Up to 60% of the human adult body is water, and that water is depleted daily through sweating, sun exposure, breathing, and urinating. It’s important to make a conscious effort to drink water daily, but what are the risks of drinking too much or not enough?
Hydration & gut health
When you don’t drink enough water, you may experience symptoms like headaches, brain fog, dizziness, irritability, and fatigue, but what people aren’t talking about enough is dehydration’s impact on your gut health. Your water intake can play a huge role in constipation and regular bowel movements.
You might find that when you haven’t had enough water to drink, going to the bathroom can be difficult, painful, and might not even happen for a few days! This is because water is essential for digesting and absorbing the food you eat, and moving digested food through your intestines, also called gut motility.
Gut motility refers to how quickly food moves through your digestive tract and is excreted from the body. An ideal time frame is between 12-24 hours, so if you do not have a bowel movement at least once per day, this means that you are constipated and have slow motility. Slow motility can lead to improper digestion of foods and bacterial overgrowth in your gut which causes gas, bloating, and bacterial imbalances in your gut microbiome. An easy way to measure your gut motility time is by eating beets and paying attention to how long it takes before having a bright red colored bowel movement. One easy way to improve your gut motility and relieve constipation is to drink more water!
How much water is enough?
A good goal to shoot for is one-half of your body weight in pounds, in ounces of water.
Example: 150 pounds / 2 = 75 oz of water daily. Good hydration is absolutely essential for moving waste through your body and promoting easy elimination instead of hard, difficult-to-pass stools.
Do I need to start my morning with a glass of water?
Drinking a glass of water in the morning is marketed as a quick fix to detox your body, rev your metabolism, boost weight loss, and cleanse your GI tract, but it’s really nothing miraculous. The results you may feel – like less brain fog, better focus, improved digestion, and clearer skin – are likely just the result of increasing your water intake and properly hydrating your body. Making a routine of drinking a glass of water in the morning is a great way to kickstart both your thirst mechanism and the healthy habit of reaching for more water throughout the day.
Is there such a thing as too much water?
Before you start drinking a gallon of water a day because trainer Brad told you to, listen up!
It’s important to remember that your body also needs a good balance of minerals for the hydration from water to get into the cells of your organs. While filtered water is important for removing harmful heavy metals and microplastics from your drinking water, filtering also removes important trace minerals that your body needs to function properly.
Drinking a lot of water without replacing minerals can actually deplete the levels of minerals in your body. And mineral depletion is another major root cause of constipation and poor motility!
In addition to hydrating your body and improving constipation, minerals are also crucial for forming and releasing the digestive enzymes, stomach acid, and bile that your body needs to break down your food and absorb the nutrients.
Helpful tip: Upgrade your drinking water to ensure you’re getting minerals in your diet like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium by adding a pinch of sea salt, some fresh fruit juice, or coconut water, and trace mineral drops to your water daily!
About the Author
Amanda Brown, RDN is a Nutritionist, Gut Health Dietitian, and Coach. She specializes in nutrition and lifestyle strategies to help women get to the root cause of bloating and gut issues. Learn more at amandabrownnutrition.com or follow Amanda on Instagram.