How can the Body Absorb More Water?

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Here’s a very popular question: So if we’re drinking enough, yet still feeling dehydrated, how can we ensure our bodies absorb more water?

We know that we have to drink enough watch each day (approx 1/2 your weight in ounces), but the amount of water you drink doesn’t matter as much as the amount of water you can absorb. You can drink lots of water, but if its mostly rushing though you body (besides the benefit of cleaning out your system), its not being used properly.

Body/Water Science

Water is absorbed into cells via minerals such as sodium and glucose. The basic process is: water is absorbed into the small intestine where it is pumped to the cells and, via active transport, to the extracellular space(this is simplified, but works for what we need to know right now). The water, containing traces of sodium that comes from the diet or created by the body, enters the cell and adds to the cell’s sodium levels. When the sodium enters the cell, it also brings in hundreds of water molecules(along with some glucose/sugar).

So what happens when we don’t have the right amounts of sodium and glucose in our bodies? Our cells don’t get enough water.

This is also the reason that people with diarrhea get dehydrated fast, since the body pumps out the intestines faster than the water/nutrients can be absorbed. In a healthy person, the majority of sodium found in the intestines is absorbed, keeping cells well hydrated. If the level of salt or glucose in your body is low, less water can be absorbed.

This being said, don’t start loading your food with table salt. Many foods come with natural salt in them, and many processed foods (even ‘fresh’ chicken breasts) come with added salt.

Beyond sickness, sodium is lost from the body via the skin and sweating. So the most important time to ensure your sodium levels are being increased is after a good workout or sports, which is why drinks like Gatorade contain sodium.

Drinking Water with Sodium

There is also a benefit from drinking water with some salt and sugar in it. Back in the 60s and 70s, a biochemist named Robert K. Crane discovered that the body’s cells used sodium and glucose for transporting water, and through that came the idea called “oral rehydration therapy”, which is a way to rehydrate severly dehydrated people without using an IV. Essentially medics can use water mixed with an appropriate amount of sodium(salt) and glucose(sugar) as a drink that will rehydrate a person faster than just water alone. This idea has supposedly saved millions over the further decades, in areas where medical equipment is less common.

Its almost impossible to measure the level of sodium in your body on a daily basis, so once you have a good balance (based on your personal observations of water retention and hydration), try to keep it maintained, especially if you’re an active person.

How to Absorb More Water?

So, back to the original question, there are two main groups of thoughts here.

First is to ensure you have enough salt in your body. Though over-consumption of salt isn’t good, not having enough is bad as well. People who play a lot of cardio-heavy sports, or do a lot of running, lose a lot of salt via sweat, and it needs to be gained back. Salt is used in the body to retain water in cells, along with helping get nutrients from the small intestine, and if we don’t have enough salt in the body, your cells can’t retain enough water. This causes the cells to dehydrate.
Drinks like Gatorade

help bring in lost sodium, as well as home made drinks like your own salt/sugar water: add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 6-8 teaspoons of sugar to 1 liter of water and mix.

The second idea to ensure we keep enough water in the body, is to eat fibrous foods. Fiber in foods will help your body retain water in the intestines, where it is slowly absorbed. This means that instead of just passing through fast, it’ll take its time and your body can use all the water it can.
Some good examples of fibrous foods are berries or legumes. There are a large number of Books on Cooking with More Fiber that you can try for ideas.

But just a note, when you increase the amount of fiber in your diet, you should increase the amount of water you drink as well, to avoid constipation. Though, this whole process will allow more water to be retained in the body, keeping you more hydrated.

Hopefully this helps!

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9 Replies to “How can the Body Absorb More Water?”

  1. What if the water you’re drinking is at an alkalinity of 9.5, ionized, and restructured? This makes the water fully absorbable via micro-clustering of molecules. As I understand, alkaline water hydrates better, so having these three qualities, are nutrients absolutely necessary for water to be absorbed into the cells? If it remains in the stomach for some time, will it prevent acidity given these qualities and conditions, or be neutralized quickly? It has been said that we should never drink alkaline water with a meal– as is the case with soda.

  2. When was healing from a critical illness (sepsis, on life support) I could not quench my thirst, having to have a bottle of water at my side for months. Even months later I couldn’t make it through the night without several liters of water. Adding fresh lemon juice to the water helped but it took years to fully resolve. I should mention my kidneys had shut down and took some time to work properly agaibt so even when I felt I was “thirsting to death” I was retaining massive fluids in my legs, feet, etc for several months. The thirst continued long after this resolved.

    When my aging father’s health was failing he too developed an increased need for liquids – always having at least 3 different cups of liquid on his hospital table.

    Is there a cellular reason that an unhealthy body might not process fluids properly, requiring an unusual amount of water to satiate?


  3. Me, too! Searching for answers like you are. So frustrating. I am staying home. Not in Hosp. My doctors nearly killed me. They don’t know what to do – except treat the symptoms. Family and friends and “Google search” know more about our conditions than the “AMA” claims to.
    Did you see the “recipe” to make your own saline/glucose water? If not, I will email to you. My “unofficial naturopath” kept herself alive and healthy for over 30 years with hep – C by drinking/eating one 8 oz. glass of Manichevitz beet borscht daily for a little over 30 years. She knew that it would keep her bile ducts open and healthy long enough for them to come up with a cure. She was right. They (finally) did. The very same “breakfast snack” applies to my conditions. I will get back to you in about a week and I will let you know how I am doing. I will write myself a note to remind me to email you on about the.7th or 8th of March. Wish me luck and “Godspeed”.

    1. Carol, what is the recipe you know of? -Thanks

      ~Cathy C.

    2. Hyaluronic Acid is the only solution i’ve ever found to answer this question…test your level then buy some supplement to up it…..stay hydrated

      1. How do you test for hyaluronic acid? Is it a blood test? I’ve never heard of that. All I know is that every time I get my blood work done the doctor says drink more water. I drink tons of water a day and I’m still dehydrated and he doesn’t know why.

    3. I’d like more on that breakfast recipe as well. I can’t stay hydrated it seems.

  4. I have haemachromatosis (not sure of the spelling which involves giving blood every three months to get rid of the iron
    the blood bank tells me to drink lots of water to fill my veins
    it does not seem to work as the water goes right thru not much seems to be retained
    any hints to increase this absorbion

  5. Looking too find out more info. I have problem me with my breathing, COPD. It becomes very bad if I’m not well hydrated, and it also causes constipation. When my bodies ready too eliminate bowels, that causes an increase in my heart rate, and my breathing is hard too maintain. Then I’m afraid and have an anxiety attack. I found some relief with clonadines for the anxiety, which helps with the breathing part some, but I cant rid myself of being dehydrated. So I have frequient attacks, do too the constipation. I guess I need a good balance of fiber, salt, sugar, and water. Im only 58. Feel unhealthy. My doctors dont help much. Anymore information would be great. I dont have teeth too chew with so the fiber part I have too fix I’m sure. I take a stool softener. I drink plenty of water. When im constipated i use a quick enema to help with the constipation part, only too have the ruins, then my breathings fine. Heart rate goes back too normal. I’m just needing more informationabout what other measures i might can try. Any help with this would be greatly appreciated. Im too young too feel this way, it’s only been happening for the past 5 months. Help if you can, thanks!

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