Staying healthy is a goal that we continue to work on, especially as we grow older. We need balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, and proper hydration for our immune system to function at optimal levels. A simple—but often overlooked—way to boost our immunity and fight off infection is to stay hydrated.
As our bodies are approximately 60 percent water, our organs and cells need water to function. Hydration plays a huge part in keeping our immune system at an optimal level. When we are dehydrated, our organs and cells might stop functioning, causing our immune system to start breaking down.1 Therefore, it is important to cultivate healthy drinking habits to make sure you stay hydrated at all times.
Water supports biochemical pathways, blood volume, and overall health
Water carries nutrients and oxygen that our bodies need to function. Optimal hydration ensures a healthy blood circulation which supports communication and biochemical pathways in the immune system.
For good blood circulation, our heart muscles also need to be properly hydrated to allow them to function smoothly when pumping blood and oxygen. Our immune system also relies heavily on blood to transport nutrients and communication signals to our organs. Dehydration can cause lower blood volume and retain more sodium that makes the blood thick and hard to flow.
Water supports the lymphatic system
A well-functioning lymphatic system is essential to a healthy immune system. It helps remove toxins, waste, abnormal cells and pathogens from our body while transporting white blood cells throughout the body. As the lymphatic system relies on lymph—a clear fluid made up of about 90% water—staying hydrated is key. Dehydration could lead to less lymph production.
Water flushes toxins
We sweat, urinate, and have bowel movements everyday—and water plays an important role in making sure these functions are working. As we sweat, our body is regulating its temperature especially when we exercise or when the weather is warm. It is important to replenish the water lost from sweating.
To get rid of waste fluids, our body urinates water, uric acid, urea, toxins, and waste filtered from within the body. Our kidneys play a key role in the process of removing waste and extra fluid from our bodies. The kidneys help balance water, sodium, and mineral levels in the blood so that our organs, nerves, muscles, and other tissues can work normally.
Any solid, semisolid, or liquid waste, including undigested food, in the digestive tract is expelled when we have healthy bowel movements. You’ll need to drink enough water to keep the stool in the intestines soft and easier to pass. Dehydration can cause constipation—which includes infrequent bowel movements, hard feces, and straining to poop.
Water protects us from pathogens
The largest organ in the human body is our skin. It is a barrier that protects us from harmful microbes. When skin becomes dry, sensitive and irritable, the protective barrier is compromised. This opens up opportunities for bad bacteria and viruses to enter our bodies. Hydration is key to making sure that our skin’s barrier is not compromised.
Water helps digest food for proper nutrition
Drinking water before, during, and after a meal can help our bodies break down the food we eat better in order for our bodies to absorb nutrients more efficiently. We need to make sure that the digestive system is functioning well. A major part of where water is absorbed into the bloodstream is when it passes through the stomach and into the intestine. Water will aid digestion and also improve bowel health in the large intestine.
We need to drink enough water to ensure constant regulation of our organs and blood. Dehydration could cause us to be susceptible to harmful bacteria and viruses, as well as diseases like hypertension, constipation, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Hence, the quality of drinking water we consume is important.
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