Staying hydrated is vital for maintaining healthy skin, muscles and joints, heart, and brain – but what about the gut? Whether we realize it or not, water intake is just as important to the gut as food intake. It plays a significant role in ensuring that your gut is doing precisely what you need to stay healthy. There are many signs of an unhealthy gut, including bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. Recently, we’ve discovered that there is a prominent connection between the brain and our gut. Feelings of anxiety, emotional instability, depression, or even feelings of being overwhelmed could all be linked back to gut health (Harvard Health). We need to do everything we can to ensure we are feeding our gut with all of the nutrients it needs, including an abundance of water.
How much water do you need?
At one point or another, you’ve likely been told that you need to increase your water intake. Most people just aren’t consuming enough. So how much do you need, exactly? More than you think. According to Mayo Clinic, healthy adult women should be drinking 11.5 cups of water per day (that’s 2.7 liters), while men should consume 15.5 cups (3.7 liters)! That sounds like a lot, but not all of your water needs to come from the tap. About 20% of your water intake should be coming from water-rich foods, like cucumber, watermelon, celery or tomatoes – to name a few. (You can learn more about how food choices impact gut health here).
Also, many individual factors contribute to how much water you need during the day, such as:
- pregnancy and/or breastfeeding
- your environment including the temperature and/or altitude
- alcohol intake
How do you know if you’re hydrated?
There are a couple of simple ways to know if you’re well-hydrated:
- Your urine is colorless or very pale yellow. As you become dehydrated, your urine will turn a darker golden shade. If you’re experiencing this, you need to increase your water intake.
- You don’t feel thirsty. Your body is exceptionally good at telling you exactly what you need; we all need to learn to listen. If you’re feeling thirsty, it is a telltale sign that you are becoming dehydrated and need to drink more water.
The source matters
The type of water you drink, and its source, all have the potential to impact your overall health – specifically your gut. Recently, there has been a heavy focus on alkalinity, but does alkaline water help improve your gut health? The truth is, there isn’t enough research to support it. Instead, focus on the purity of your water using a clean filter, either at home or from a filtered, reusable water bottle. However, you consume your water, try to reduce your reliance on bottled water as much as possible. Not only is it bad for the environment, but the cost adds up exponentially over time. Invest in a quality, reusable water bottle (preferably glass or metal) instead.
Read more on how your food intake impacts your gut health here.