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The Importance Of Drinking Water For Your Lungs And Kidneys’ Health

Proper hydration is undoubtedly a very important factor for maintaining overall health and well-being. Almost 2.5-3 litres of water is lost by your body daily during normal bodily functions. Therefore, your body needs to replace water to remain healthy. Whenever you feel thirsty, it means your body is dehydrated.

 

Water as An Essential Nutrient

Water constitutes 75% to 80% of the total body weight. Your body depends on water to keep your brain working, making up blood, and keep your heart pumping. From removing waste products by urination to maintaining a normal body temperature, water forms the basis of every bodily function. As water is lost during many functions like sweating and urination, your body needs fresh supplies. (1)

You need water depending on your body’s metabolism, the food you eat, weather, and your activity levels. Water is essential for performing the following functions:

  • Regulation of normal body temperature through sweating.
  • Retains the appearance and texture of skin by moisturising it.
  • Protects the body by acting as an amniotic sac during pregnancy and as a shock absorber inside the spinal cord and eyes.
  • Helps indigestion
  • Eliminates by-products, waste products like urea and electrolytes from the body. 
  • Lubricates and cushions joints.
  • Prevents the bladder from any bacteria and reduces the risk of cystitis. 
  • Moistens the mucous membranes.
  • Transports oxygen and nutrients to cells. (2)

 

Why Water Is Important for Your Lungs?

 

We do not know the importance of lungs unless we experience breathing problems. Like the rest of your body, your lungs also demand to be taken care of. The main role of the lungs is to help the body breathe in and breathe out in the presence of water. Water keeps the lungs moist. About half to one litre of water is lost during breathing. Inadequate water intake causes the histamines to prevent respiratory water loss. (3) 

All of your body cells receive oxygen when you breathe. Your lungs provide you with oxygen-rich air by removing carbon dioxide (waste gases) out of the body. Insufficient oxygen supply causes many health complications like heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and respiratory illnesses. Therefore, it is important to keep your lungs as healthy as possible. 

Your lungs are at 50% of their capacity while at rest. They gain more progress when you’re engaged in intense exercises. (4)

 

Water and Respiratory System

Like other systems of your body, dehydration also affects your respiratory system. Your lungs and airways contain a mucous lining, which becomes thick when you do not drink enough water. This mucus lining becomes thin and easier to clear out of the lungs in the presence of water. The process of overall respiration is slowed down when mucus gets sticky and thick because of dehydration. You’re more susceptible to respiratory problems, allergies, and other illnesses when dehydrated. 

Proper respiration is associated with clear secretions of the lungs and airways. Your airways and the lining of sinuses become dry when you do not drink enough water, resulting in irritation. Dryness of the airways causes many breathing problems. 

 

Dehydration Causes Breathing Problems

Adequate water intake makes your lungs, bronchial tubes, and nasal passages moist. The moisture from these tissues is thrown out when you breathe out, thereby bringing in dry air. Sufficient water consumption keeps this water replacing from time to time. 

Many breathing problems are associated with poor water consumption, among which is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). COPD is very challenging to manage because of increased mucus production. Dehydration makes mucus difficult to cough up because it becomes sticky and thicker. Therefore, increased water consumption is suggested to COPD patients because water clears out mucus and makes it thin. (5)

 

Dehydration Triggers Allergies 

Your body’s water supply is maintained by histamines. If any histamine reaction occurs in your body, it is because of allergies. If you’re allergic to flowers or pollen, your immune system treats it as a danger and overreacts. This overreaction of the immune system activates histamines to fight off the irritants. 

In a Dutch study, it was reported that histamine production is a defensive mechanism triggered by dehydration. Histamines prevent the body from future loss by preserving remaining water. Histamine production fights allergens due to which you experience symptoms of pollen allergy, such as itchy eyes, sneezing, and runny nose. So, dehydration and histamine production is compensated by drinking more water. (6) 

You now know why water is so important for your respiratory system. Therefore, breath + water equals healthy and balanced life. 

 

How Important Is Water for Your Kidneys’ Health?

 

Did you know your kidney health is optimised by water? Healthy kidneys let you live a comfortable and happy life by working day in and day out as an incredible biological machine. We only seem to realise the importance of kidneys until a urinary tract infection (UTI) or a kidney stone comes along. Your quality of life is highly influenced by UTIs and kidney stones. 

 

What Do Your Kidneys Do?

By working as your body’s water regulators, kidneys remove excess water through urine. When your body runs out of water, these little organs retain water content in your body, allowing it to function properly. Moreover, kidneys also transport urine to the bladder, filter out toxins, and eliminate them from your body. (7)

 

How Water Helps Your Kidneys?

Your kidneys function properly in the presence of water flowing through your body. Sufficient water intake helps your kidneys dissolve nutrients and minerals and dispel waste products from the body. Each day, 120-150 quarts of water are filtered through your kidneys. Out of 150 quarts, 1-2 quarts are removed from your body in the form of urine. 

Water also prevents kidney stones from crystallising because it increases the volume of urine in the bladder. 

When you do not drink enough water, excess fluid and waste products will not eliminate from the body, thus building up in the kidneys. These waste products clump together and form kidney stones which appear like stone deposits. Prolonged dehydration causes kidney stones to become larger and harder, making it extremely painful to pass through the urine. So, save yourself from the discomfort and pain of kidney stones by staying hydrated. (8)

 

What Is A Urinary Tract Infection?

Do you know water helps flush out harmful bacteria through urination? When you’re hydrated, bacteria do not build up in the urinary tract. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur because of these bacteria. Frequent urge to urinate and painful urination are the symptoms of UTIs, which can be reduced if you drink plenty of water. So, prevent urinary infections from recurring by staying hydrated. (9)

One study reported that women were less likely to have UTIs who consumed extra pints of water compared to those who didn’t. 

 

How Much Water to Drink Each Day? 

The colour of your urine is a way to monitor your hydration levels. Everyone needs different amounts of fluids depending on their age, physical activity, age, living conditions, and whether they’re pregnant and breastfeeding. According to the National Health Service (NHS), it is recommended to drink eight to ten glasses of fluids per day. 

The following are recommended intakes of water according to the British Diabetic Association (BDA):

 

 

Gender 

 

Age 

Recommended water intake from fluids in ml/day

Adults/Older adults

19-50 years 

Women: 1600 ml

Men:  2000 ml

Lactating women

Over 18 years

600-700 ml/day

Pregnant Women

Aged over 19 years

300 ml per day

Children 

1-2 years

800-900 ml

Children

3-4 years

1040 ml

Children 

4-8 years

1280 ml

Children

9-13 years

1500-1700 ml

Children

>18 years

As adults

Infants

0-6 months

Through milk (500 ml)

Infants 

7-12 months

800 ml


* One cup: ~ 200 ml

   One mug: ~250 ml

   One medium-size glass: ~200 ml

 

How to Add Enough Fluid in Your Diet?

 

The easiest way to have enough fluids is drinking water, but if this idea doesn’t sound appealing to you, you can incorporate fluids into your diet. Milk, fresh juices, tea, soft drinks, coffee, and soup include lots of water. But they are also associated with weight gain. So, if you want to hydrate your body without any energy, you can drink fresh water (Tap water is also safe in the UK). 

For infants and children, milk is the best way of fluid intake because it constitutes 90% water. Full-fat milk is ideal for infants, and low-fat milk is suitable for children and adults. 

Fluids in the form of fruit juices can also be consumed, but it is better to eat fresh fruits instead of drinking fruit juices.

Limit the use of mineral water because it contains high sodium content, which puts susceptible people at risk of high blood pressure. (10)

 

Conclusion

Lungs and kidneys are two biologically very important organs of your body, that always need adequate reserve of water to function optimally. Drinking water, either freshwater or fluids, will keep your body hydrated and protected from many diseases. When kidneys do not have enough water, it can lead to UTIs and kidney stones.

References:

  1. Water – a vital nutrient | betterhealth.vic.gov.au [Internet]. [cited 2021 Apr 11]. Available from: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/water-a-vital-nutrient
  2. Why Water is So Important to Maintaining Your Health [Internet]. [cited 2021 Apr 11]. Available from: https://www.uhhospitals.org/Healthy-at-UH/articles/2018/02/the-importance-of-water
  3. Why Water Is So Important? [Internet]. Eden Springs. 2014 [cited 2021 Apr 11]. Available from: https://www.edensprings.co.uk/blog/why-water-so-important
  4. Does drinking water help your lungs? [Internet]. https://heartspecialists.net.au/. [cited 2021 Apr 11]. Available from: https://heartspecialists.net.au/does-drinking-water-help-your-lungs/
  5. Shaw F. Drinking Water helps you Breathe Easier [Internet]. AquAid UK. 2018 [cited 2021 Apr 11]. Available from: https://www.aquaidwatercoolers.co.uk/drinking-water-helps-you-breathe-easier
  6. Drinking Clean Water Can Alleviate Allergies: The Truth Behind Dehydration and Allergies [Internet]. [cited 2021 Apr 11]. Available from: https://theberkey.com/blogs/water-filter/allergies
  7. Drinking More Water Improves Your Kidney Health [Internet]. South Texas Renal Care Group. 2020 [cited 2021 Apr 11]. Available from: https://www.texaskidneycare.com/why-drinking-water-is-so-good-for-kidney-health/
  8. Why drinking water is so important for your kidneys | BMI Healthcare UK [Internet]. [cited 2021 Apr 11]. Available from: https://www.bmihealthcare.co.uk/health-matters/health-and-wellbeing/why-drinking-water-is-so-important-for-your-kidneys#gdpr-out
  9. 6 Tips To Be “Water Wise” for Healthy Kidneys [Internet]. National Kidney Foundation. 2015 [cited 2021 Apr 11]. Available from: https://www.kidney.org/content/6-tips-be-water-wise-healthy-kidneys
  10. BDA. Fluid (water and drinks) [Internet]. [cited 2021 Apr 11]. Available from: https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/fluid-water-drinks.html