How Hydration affects the Digestive System

Hydration is a key component in digestive health and it also affects almost all of the major systems in the body.

Drinking enough water can help to prevent kidney stones and hypertension, but few people are actually staying hydrated at the recommended levels. According to the CDC, adults in the United States drank approximately 39 oz. of water daily between 2005 & 2010. This is well below the daily recommendation of 64 oz, and the impact can be felt in various ways including headaches, fatigue, dry skin, or even a weakened immune system. If you are active, exercise frequently, or spend extra time outdoors, you may find that you need additional fluids aside from the recommended baseline amount.

Dehydration Symptoms & Causes

Urine is a great indicator of hydration level. Dark or saturated colors are easy to recognize indicators of dehydration, as well as only urinating a few times each day. Dehydration can also cause headaches that often result in dull pain in different areas of the forehead, temples, or back of the neck. These headaches are different from a sinus or congestion headache where you might experience facial pain or pressure. Even with efficient water intake, there are some foods that can derail your hydration goals. Caffeine and alcohol are two of these culprits that actually pull water from your body, especially when consumed outdoors or in the sun.

Hydration and the Digestive System

Taking in an adequate amount of fluid can help to regulate your bowel movements, prevent constipation, and break down foods in combination with stomach acids and enzymes. Your body will pull any available fluids to help food move through your system, and if there is not enough available, the result can be constipation or bloating with slow digestion. Stomach ulcers or acid reflux issues can also present themselves in more severe or prolonged periods of dehydration.

Adequate hydration can be challenging for patients with Celiac Disease or other diet-related illnesses, where vomiting and diarrhea are some of the most common symptoms and cause significant fluid loss. It is particularly important for these patients to monitor fluid intake to aid in symptom management and prevention.

Tips for Staying Hydrated

Water is the most common source of hydration; however, many people simply don’t like the taste. Consider water-based alternatives like decaffeinated tea or fruit infusions to find something more appealing. There are also a variety of flavor enhancers available in stores, packaged for easy consumption if plain water is not your go-to beverage. You can also try to incorporate foods with high water content into your diet as a hydration source, including watermelon, celery, cucumbers, and strawberries. For more tips to improve your gut health through nutrition, check out this article.

If you think hydration may be behind some of your digestive health issues, make an appointment with one of our physicians today! We’ll talk through your symptoms and put together a plan to get you feeling better quickly through an in-person visit at one of our 7 locations, or through a telemedicine visit in the comfort of your own home!

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