Why Drinking Water Is Important for Your Gut Health, Says Expert
Water is essential for a healthy life. Not only does it help with hydrating your skin, regulating your body temperature, maintaining blood pressure, detoxing your body, and other important bodily functions, but getting enough fluid intake is also connected to the makeup of your gut microbiome.
Your gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria found mostly within your small and large intestines. Keeping the gut flora healthy benefits digestion, decreasing the risk of many chronic diseases, and can even benefit one’s mental health.
While many would assume that consuming enough prebiotics and probiotics is essential for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome—which is still true, of course—many would be shocked to learn that drinking enough water is also linked to keeping your gut happy and healthy.
How much water is needed for the gut microbiome
“Recently, one study looked into how water might impact our gut microbes,” says Daina Trout, MS, MPH, co-founder and chief mission officer of Health-Ade. “According to this research, [drinking] eight or more cups of water per day was linked to having a healthy and abundant microbiome, which we know has a halo effect on many aspects of our overall health. The study didn’t finalize how or why this happens, but it hypothesized that hydration could support the integrity of our intestinal wall or support the ‘right’ pH for healthy flora. Even though this is just one study, it suggests good reason to add one more thing to the list for water’s beneficial impact on health: your gut!”
Unsurprisingly, drinking less water is linked to an unhealthy gut, proving the point that water intake and the gut microbiome have a connection.
“At the same time, four or fewer cups of water a day was linked to a significantly less healthy and abundant microbiome,” says Trout. “All this suggests that water intake could be a key differentiator to our gut health.”
Tips to increase your water intake
Trout shares a few of her go-to tips on how to increase your water intake throughout the day.
1. Shoot for more than 8 cups a day.
“Studies now show 11 to 12 cups per day is the right amount for most,” Trout says.
The National Academy of Medicine actually suggests that men drink 13 cups of fluids a day, and women drink 9 cups a day. However, “fluid intake” doesn’t just mean water—it can also mean other hydrating drinks and food that can help you reach your daily goals.
2. Think beyond water.
“There’s a whole world of delicious drinks that are just as hydrating, like Kombucha,” says Trout. “Eat hydrating foods for some bonus hydration. Uncooked cucumber, zucchini, watermelon, radishes, and broccoli are all ultra-hydrating.”
3. Track it.
“Studies show you’re more likely to hit any dietary goal when you track your intake day to day,” she shares.
4. Buy a water bottle that fits your daily goal in one fill.
“It takes a little getting used to, but carrying around a big bottle that you only fill once is helpful to track where you are in the day,” she says.