How Long Does The Body Take to Digest Water?
It happens every day, often without you realizing it: You take a sip of water, and after that first swallow, the body begins the process of digestion almost immediately. Something you probably never wonder about? How quickly the water gets digested.
It’s easy to think the water’s journey through the body is always quick and straightforward, given that it’s just water, but the road has many twists and turns. Also, the liquid’s transit time from the mouth and out largely depends on a few conditions (explained later in this article).
If you’re curious about how the body digests water and how long the process takes, we explain everything ahead. We also explore the benefits of drinking water, how much you need to consume every day, a few healthy hydration practices, and how to ensure your water is clean and safe to drink. Let’s go!
Understanding Water’s Journey Through the Body
“Where does water go when you drink it?” It’s one of the most asked questions mainly among water lovers, but one that rarely gets answered in adequate detail. So, let’s trace water’s journey through the human body and discuss why water is vital to life.
How Does Water Travel Through the Body?
When you take water into the mouth and swallow it, the liquid travels from the mouth through the esophagus, an eight-inch-long tube connecting the throat to the stomach. After passing through the esophagus, the water arrives in the stomach. There, the water begins to absorb into the bloodstream.
The water then moves into the small intestine, where nearly all the water is absorbed into cell membranes and the bloodstream. The remaining water is absorbed through the large intestines, which squeeze out as much water as possible from the ingested food substances ready to be excreted from the body.
How Fast is the Water Digested?
According to a study by researchers at the University of Montreal, the amount of water absorbed in the stomach and how quickly the water is absorbed depend, in part, on whether the person is drinking on a full or empty stomach.
The study recruited volunteers to drink ordinary water that included deuterium, a hydrogen isotope, that enabled researchers to track each gulp throughout the body. The water started showing up in the bloodstream within five minutes; half was absorbed in 11 to 13 minutes, and the remainder was absorbed entirely within 75 to 120 minutes.
The researchers found that someone drinking water on an empty stomach is more likely to experience a faster water absorption rate, as quick as five minutes after taking a drink. After all, water has a simple molecular structure. Therefore, our bodies don’t have to break it down – unlike food and complex liquids like iced tea, smoothies, and sweetened coffee with carbohydrate content (such as sugar), dyes, fats, or proteins. Furthermore, there’s nothing to extract or derive from the water (besides the water itself, which your body needs for various processes).
In contrast, the study discovered that if a person has eaten a lot of food before they drink water, the speed of absorption will reduce accordingly, and absorption could take up to a few hours. That’s because the body does not prioritize digesting water over ingested food. Only after digesting the food will the body allow the water to pass into the intestines.
What Does Water Do for the Body?
As the water digests, it performs crucial tasks throughout the body to improve our physical and mental well being.
One of the most critical roles water plays in the body is purging toxins and waste. Toxins are unused, unwanted junk leftover in our bodies. However, the kidneys need plenty of clean, filtered water to eliminate these toxins. Otherwise, these vital organs will have to work overtime to filter out the toxins, increasing the stress on the kidneys and possibly leading to health concerns, including kidney stones and other kidney-related diseases. Drinking filtered water is one of the best ways to support your kidneys because it can remove some toxins, reducing the strain on your body.
Water can also help improve your skin by cleansing and hydrating it. Drinking ample water makes your skin appear brighter, healthier, and more youthful. When you don’t drink enough water, the collagen protein in the skin can crack and bind together, causing wrinkles and fine lines to become visible. And when you choose not to drink enough water? You can expect your skin to look duller, drier, and less youthful.
Another vital function of water in the body is preventing and relieving constipation. Constipation is typically described as having fewer than three bowel movements a week due to difficulty passing stool or infrequent bowel movements. Staying hydrated can be a crucial part of your plan to cure or prevent constipation as drinking adequate water increases the water content inside the intestines so they can soften the stool and stimulate bowel movements.
Water is also an essential part of the digestion process. Drinking water before or after meals can help your body break down consumed food faster. That way, your body can absorb the nutrients quicker. Better digestion means you can avoid belly-bloating after meals.
In addition to speeding up your food’s transit time through the body, drinking water can also help you get the most out of your meals. The water helps dissolve vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients and delivers them to different organs in your body. Furthermore, water helps circulation by increasing blood flow and keeping oxygen and nutrients flowing through the body. Better circulation in the body can positively impact your overall health.
How is the Water Removed from the Body?
Once the body finishes using all the water it needs to function efficiently, it begins removing excess water. There are four main ways water leaves the body: urination, sweating, exhaling, and stool.
1. Through urination
The body’s primary exit strategy for water is through the kidneys via urine. The kidneys use water to filter salts, toxins, and extra water out of the body. However, when the kidney has used enough water, it gets rid of the rest through urine.
Once the kidneys finish processing the urine, it flows from the kidneys to the bladder through two thin tubes of muscle called ureters, one on each side of your bladder. If you’re very hydrated, your body will quickly send the excess water into the kidneys because it’s not needed elsewhere. If you’re dehydrated, the water will be absorbed and sent to maintain vital functions before it eventually reaches the kidneys to remove toxins. It generally takes your body nine to 10 hours to produce two cups of urine.
A healthy bladder will usually hold about one to one and a half cups of urine before the urge to urinate is signaled. According to the National Institute on Aging, healthy adults pass about a quart and a half of urine through the bladder and out of the body every day.
2. Through sweating
The body also removes water from the body through the skin. When a person’s body temperature increases above a certain point, whether through physical activity, the environment, or sickness, tiny droplets of water, known as sweat, will form on the skin to keep the body cool. Depending on various factors, the individual can sweat at 500 to 700 mL per day, but people can sweat at a rate of up to one liter per hour during high-intensity exercise in a hot environment.
3. Through fecal matter
Another exit point for water is through stool. That’s right. Healthy fecal matter consists of 75 percent water and 25 percent solid matter. Once the small intestine has absorbed enough water to send throughout the body, it will pass the water along to the large intestine. When the water reaches the large intestine, it will combine with solid matter to soften stool and aid digestion.
4. Through exhalation
Small amounts of water can also leave the body when you exhale. This is most evident on a cold day when people can see their breath. However, it occurs with every breath we take. If you feel slightly dehydrated after a restful sleep, it might have to do with you losing water while breathing during that period.
Now that you know the different ways water leaves the body after being absorbed, let’s discuss how much you should consume every day to stay hydrated and the best water to drink for better hydration and health.
How Much Water Should You Drink Every Day to Stay Hydrated?
Your daily recommended water intake depends on various factors, such as your age, weight, sex, level of physical activity, and the climate in which you live. According to the Institute of Medicine, women should aim to consume 2.7 liters (or 91 ounces) of fluids daily, and men should drink 3.7 liters (or 125 ounces). But since about 80 percent of the water we drink comes from fluids and about 20 percent from foods, you should aim for about 9 cups (or 72 ounces) if you’re a female and 12½ cups (or 100 ounces) if you’re a female you’re a male.
As for kids, the same factors apply (age, sex, etc.), but their daily recommended intake differs. WebMD suggests that, as a rule, toddlers should drink 2 to 4 cups of H2O every day, children ages 4 – 8 years should drink 5 cups, and 8 to 11 cups for those 14 and over. But if your kids are actively involved in sports or take part in physical exercise, they’ll need more water. Before and after play or workout, give them about two or three more cups, and during breaks, get them to take six to eight big gulps.
Healthy Hydration Practices
1. Take it easy.
We know you’re probably eager to drink plenty of water and receive all the great benefits of proper hydration. However, it’s crucial not to do it all at once. Rather than gulping down a lot of water, try drinking it slowly throughout the day. Why? Because your intestines cannot process and absorb limitless amounts of water. That’s why drinking a lot in one go will result in wasted water.
2. Add a burst of flavor.
Water is excellent, but adding some flavor can make it extra special. So, add a few slices of lime, lemon, or orange to your filtered water for that taste bud exciting punch! Not only will you receive the benefits from the water, but the fruits are rich in antioxidants that may help flush toxins from your body. They may also aid in muscle fatigue, boost your metabolism, and fill your stomach, making you less likely to snack.
3. Get a reusable water bottle.
A reusable water bottle is an incredibly foolproof and environmentally friendly way to maintain good daily hydration. You can keep them anywhere – in the living room, at the bedside, in the gym bag, handbag – to act as a visual reminder to drink up. A nice-looking, extra-large vessel on your desk, filled up each morning and consumed throughout the workday, can be a practical way to maintain your water intake, especially when you’re out and about for the day. You’re likely to drink more water when it’s right next to you.
4. Hydrate at the right time.
As mentioned earlier, it can take up to a few hours for the water to absorb if you drink it after a meal. So, the timing is crucial. If you’re planning on exercising or engaging in some physical activity, start drinking about two hours before you get moving. This way, your body can stay hydrated throughout the activity. Another great idea is to drink a glass of water as soon as you wake each morning since your body probably did not get a chance to receive it while you were asleep.
5. Switch to filtered water.
To reap the full benefits from your plain drinking water or fruit-infused water, you need to drink it consistently. But even more importantly, you need to drink filtered water free of all kinds of harmful toxins and contaminants. The cleaner the water we drink, the less work our bodies have to do filtering toxins and impurities.
Clean, Filtered Water for a Smoother Trip Through the Body
Home water filters are one of the best ways to ensure you’re continuously drinking water that’s safe, healthy, and tastes great. These systems are designed to remove or reduce toxic water pollutants, such as lead, copper, iron, chlorine, PFAS, bacteria, arsenic, herbicides, mercury, chlorine byproducts, etc.
Whether you decide to invest in a whole-house water filtration system that filters all the water entering your house or an under-counter water filter that treats water at specific taps in your home, a reliable water filter system is crucial to your hydration and health.
After taking a sip or a big gulp of water, it doesn’t take long for your body to absorb it. Unlike food or some beverages, water can be “digested” in as little as five minutes or up to a few hours, depending on whether your stomach is full or empty. The excess water leaves the body through urine, feces, sweat, and when you exhale. It’s essential to stay hydrated because the body uses the water for many vital daily processes, like lubricating joints, absorbing nutrients, removing toxins, etc. But even more importantly, you must ensure your water is free of harmful toxins and contaminants.
To learn about Springwell’s affordable, reliable, and highly effective water filtration systems, don’t hesitate to contact us at 800-589-5592 or write us today.