There is no life without water. You might not even realise it, but water is actually much more essential to your body than food. You can typically only survive without water for three to four days, while you could potentially go without food for about three weeks.
Despite that, many people are still chronically dehydrated as we often do not drink enough throughout the day. If you do your best to keep your body well-hydrated (and well-nourished), it can give you much more in return.
Keep on reading to find out about the benefits of drinking water, as well as what happens with water once you drink it: where it goes, how your body deals with it to feed vital functions, how long it takes for water to digest, etc.
Why is Drinking Water Important?
As mentioned above, you cannot survive without water. It literally supports all your vital functions and makes sure you are able to think clearly and operate normally.
There are also some more specific advantages of drinking water related to the digestive process, as water plays an important role in that as well.
So what does water do for healthy digestion?
1. Creating saliva
Water represents the main component of saliva. Digestion already starts in your mouth when saliva starts breaking down the food, which is why water plays an important role in the first step of this process.
2. Getting rid of body waste
Water is crucial for sweating, urinating, and normal bowel movements through which your body disposes of different sorts of waste.
Sweat helps your body regulate temperature and can lead to dehydration if you do not replenish the lost fluid.
Enough water is also needed for excretion of stool, otherwise you can end up constipated. Another organ involved in the disposal of waste are kidneys that filter it out before urination. If your body is low on water, the kidneys cannot function properly and can start forming kidney stones.
3. Preventing constipation
As mentioned above, not drinking enough water can result in constipation which can lead to adverse consequences. When you are dehydrated, your intestines cannot add water to the stools and they have to take it directly from the food you consume. This leads to slow digestion, i.e dry and hard stools that are difficult to pass.
4. Speeding up transit time
Wait, does drinking water speed up digestion? Many people believe that drinking while eating can cause digestive problems. However, drinking water before, during and even after eating can actually help your body to break down consumed food more quickly and easily.
5. Improving nutrient absorption
If you drink water before, during, or after a meal, it helps to break down your meal. This way your body can absorb nutrients found in food more easily.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
Many people have problems drinking enough water because they simply forget. Your body’s natural reaction to such neglect is called being thirsty. But when your body tries to get your attention and force you to finally have that glass of water, it is already dehydrated.
You have probably heard of the “8 glasses of water per day rule”, however, is this really the optimal amount for you?
Ideally, men should drink around 3 litres of water while women should get about 2 litres exclusively from beverages. If you live in a hotter environment or are frequently active, this amount should be increased to prevent dehydration.
If you are not sure you are drinking enough, pay attention to your body letting you know by feeling thirsty. Additionally, check the colour of your urine is darker urine indicates water deficiency. The reason for this is that when you are dehydrated, your kidneys order your body to retain water. This results in less water being present in your urine, which is why it is not diluted and therefore appears darker.
Make sure you drink enough water by placing glasses or bottles of water around your house or setting alarms on your phone. If you do this long enough, drinking water will become your new habit and you will not even have to think about it anymore. Your body will be beyond grateful!
Tap or mineral water?
Drinking tap water instead of fizzy drinks packed with sugar is a great idea for your health, but we have an even better one – drinking Donat Mg! Why? Because it is water bursting with vital minerals, such as magnesium, which will give your digestion a well-deserved boost and contribute to your wellbeing. And these are not just empty words, Donat is a clinically proven remedy for slow digestion as its effects were confirmed by a German study.
How Do We Digest Water?
Now that we have discussed all the benefits related to your digestive system, let us talk about how you digest water, or more accurately, how you absorb it. You are probably wondering where water is absorbed in the digestive system and what organ in the digestive system absorbs water. There are many questions, so let us get down to them.
To clarify: unlike food, which is digested, water is actually absorbed into your system, which is why it takes less time for your body to deal with it upon consumption. So we are actually not talking about water digestion here but rather about water absorption.
Water is quite a wondrous liquid, as it can enter your body so quickly. Its journey begins in the mouth from where it travels through your esophagus to your stomach. This is when the absorption of water starts and water is absorbed into your bloodstream.
How much water gets absorbed in your stomach depends on how much you have eaten.
If you drink water on an empty stomach, water can get absorbed in less than 5 minutes after drinking it. On the other hand, if you have eaten a lot before drinking, the absorption of water could take a couple of hours.
Once the process in the stomach is finished, water finds its way through the stomach into the small intestine, which absorbs water into cell membranes and bloodstream. This way, water will hydrate the cells in your body so they can carry out their daily tasks without problems.
Water then moves to your large intestine, where it gets reabsorbed. The remaining water and other nutrients get absorbed and are then used to form stool. If you drink a lot of water, there is enough of it left to moisten your stool and make it easier to pass. If you are dehydrated, your stool is dry and therefore much more difficult to excrete.
Does It Matter When You Drink Water?
As mentioned above, certain conditions can ease the absorption of water.
Firstly, drinking water on an empty stomach is the most efficient way to quickly hydrate your body as it will enter your bloodstream within 5 minutes.
The process will be even quicker if the water you drink is colder.
Secondly, if you drink water during a meal, it might take your body more than 45 minutes to move it all the way to the intestines because your stomach will be busy digesting the food.
Thirdly, if you only remember to drink a glass of water after you have finished eating, it can take 2 hours or more for it to get absorbed. This happens because your body will prioritise the process of food digestion and water will have to wait for its turn.
Use this information to your advantage in order to determine the best time for you to drink water, depending on how quickly you need or want it in your system.
How Can Your Body Absorb More Water?
Making sure your body is able to absorb as much water as possible is extremely important. If you are not properly hydrated, the body is not able to perform at its highest level, which can lead to various health problems. So how can you make sure your body gets enough water?
The first way to improve the absorption of water is to pay attention to levels of salt in your body, especially if you like to stay active and sweat a lot. The reason for this is that when we sweat, we lose a significant amount of water through salt in sweat, which needs to be regained.
Salt in your body is important because it helps your cells hold water and absorb nutrients from your intestines. If your body cannot provide enough salt, your cells cannot retain enough water and become dehydrated. However, keep in mind that too much salt is also not okay so do not overdo it.
Another thing you could do to make sure there is enough water in your body is to eat foods that are high in fibre. Fibre, like salt, helps your body retain water in the intestines instead of quickly passing it through. Thanks to this slow process, your body can use as much water as possible before letting it leave your body.
Healthy Drinking Practices
There are definitely some good and some poor ways of drinking water. If you do not follow the below-mentioned practices, your body will, of course, not be in grave danger. However, incorporating some healthy drinking habits into your daily routine will help your body absorb water in a healthier way.
1. Take it easy
If you want to properly hydrate your body, it is important not to do it all at once. Instead of gulping down a lot of water try drinking it slowly throughout the day. Your intestines cannot process and absorb limitless amounts of water, which is why drinking a lot in one go will result in wasted water.
2. Add lemon
Water is already amazing as it is, however, adding lemon juice to it will make it extra special. Adding lemon to water has various benefits such as improving your digestive system and containing nutrients like vitamin C.
If you would like to create a healthy new habit, try drinking a glass of warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. This will not only speed up your digestion but also support weight loss, improve your skin, prevent kidney stones, etc.
3. The right timing
As already discussed, water can take up to 2 hours or more to get absorbed if you drink it after a meal. So it is all about the right timing: if you are planning on exercising, start drinking at least 2 hours before you get moving. This way your body will be able to stay properly hydrated.
A great idea is also to drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up, as your body probably did not get a chance to receive it while you were sleeping. So instead of scrolling through social media first thing in the morning rather pick up a glass of water.
4. Get a water bottle
If you keep a water bottle with you at all times, especially when you leave the house, you will be inclined to take a few sips every now and then. This way, your water consumption is definitely going to increase.
If you notice you are still struggling to remember it is time to drink some water, there are numerous apps you can use as a friendly reminder.
5. Switch to mineral water
If you really dislike the taste of water and even adding lemon juice does not cut it for you as you are used to fizzy drinks, swap it out with mineral water.
This way, your body will not only get that much-needed water, but mineral water also boasts numerous other benefits. Natural mineral water can help you with weight loss, digestive problems and improve your quality of life in general.
Now you should have all the information related to the question of how long it takes to digest water. You now know that water is actually absorbed rather than digested, and that you can help the process of water absorption by adding salt and fibre to your diet.
Because of many benefits of drinking water, incorporating the above-mentioned good practices into your daily routine is definitely a good idea to make sure your body can function properly.