The human body uses water for many processes to maintain homeostasis. It is also used in the body’s efforts to regulate body temperature, deliver nutrients, maintain electrolyte balance, and keep organs working correctly.
As we’ve learned before, one of the primary roles of the lining of the gut is to transport nutrients from the gut into the body. This works optimally when well hydrated.
Current water consumption recommendations are calculated by taking half your body weight measured in pounds. It’s as simple as that. So, a 200-pound person should aim to consume 100 ounces of water a day. Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?
For many, drinking plain water can get a bit old. Even by making water more interesting by adding cucumber, berries, or lemon it can be difficult to get the full amount of water in a day. Lighten your water load knowing other beverages can contribute to your goals. Studies have shown that although caffeine is a mild diuretic, most people can tolerate up to 500 mg of caffeine a day without a dehydrating effect. For reference, an average 8-oz cup of drip coffee has about 165 mg. So that’s great news, your daily cup of coffee and/or tea can contribute to your total hydration goal!
In addition to coffee and tea, there are many other drinks that contribute to hydration. Milk, milk alternatives, low-calorie drinks, sports drinks, and sugar-sweetened drinks should be consumed in a limited to moderate capacity. These, like coffee and tea, should not be the primary source of water but can add to the hydration status. Adding artificial sweeteners and high sugar drinks can be detrimental to gut health. For optimal gut health, water and naturally flavored water is the best way to hydrate your body and gut.
Diuretic Effect of Alcohol
Alcohol has an effect on many parts of the body, including the pituitary gland. That’s the part of the brain that handles the amount of water the body holds onto through the hormone ADH. ADH works with the kidneys to either increase the amount of water secreted because there is sufficient or excessive amount of fluids. When consuming alcohol, it is important to up the hydration efforts even more. Strive for an extra 8 ounces of water for each drink consumed.
Spice Up Your Water
Looking for a new way to make that water more interesting? Give these options a try.
- Go bubbly – give a sparkling mineral water a try.
- Bone Broth – after a particularly long day, sip on some steamy, nutrient-dense bone broth.
- Choose your own adventure – add a combination of cucumber, berries, citrus, mint, or other herbs.
- Change the temp – alternate between icy cold and steamy hot.
- Drink through a straw – just a small change in the way you drink can make it easier.
- Make goals for yourself – use an app or a motivational bottle to keep track of your intake.
In the case of hydration, what’s good for you is good for your gut. Cheers!
Written by Lorilyn Van Dyke, Entegro Health
Popkin BM, Armstrong LE, Bray GM, Caballero B, Frei B, Willett WC. A new proposed guidance system for beverage consumption in the United States. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2006; 83:529-542.