Hydration plays a critical role in health and is a key element in maintaining a healthy immune system
Studies show even mild dehydration may negatively impact cognitive performance, memory, and immune health
In addition to eating foods high in water content and drinking water regularly
You’re probably aware of the connection between hydration and overall health. But did you know hydrating is also important to maintain a healthy immune system? While you may understand the importance of drinking water, doing it is not always easy to put into practice.
But why is hydration important for immunity? Let’s dive into the health benefits of staying hydrated and share tips for staying hydrated throughout the day.
The Basics of Hydration
Drinking water does more than simply quench your thirst. Good hydration is a key to cellular function, maintaining body health, and supporting healthy immune cell function.
The human body needs adequate water daily to function properly and for overall health. For example, your body uses water to maintain a normal body temperature, remove waste, and lubricate your joints.
Water is also involved in carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, producing saliva to aid in digestion, and protecting and moisturizing tissues and organs.
According to the National Academy of Medicine, Men’s intake of daily fluids should be about 13 cups (104 oz), and women’s fluid intake should be about 9 cups (72 oz). However, this can vary further depending on your activity level and medical status. If you’re unsure, consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian.
If you don’t regularly drink water or other fluids, like sports drinks, you may be experiencing at least mild dehydration. There are several signs you may be dehydrated, such as:
Fatigue or weakness
Little or no urine, or very dark-colored urine
Lightheadedness or dizziness
All of these symptoms can serve as warning signs you may be dehydrated. And why is hydration important? For starters, research shows even mild dehydration of only 1-2% can impact aspects of health such as cognitive performance and memory.
It’s clear water is essential for health, but is water necessary for immune function? Yes, hydration is a component in maintaining a healthy immune system.
One 2013 study researched the effects of dehydration on the immune system. Results showed that both groups had some level of dehydration, which correlated with immunosuppression and a decreased neutrophil count. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell involved in immunity.
Another 2019 research review evaluated the effects of dehydration on endurance athletes. Exercise-induced dehydration was seen to reduce airway surface hydration, which results in more restrictive airways. This reaction may be heightened in those with asthma and exercise-induced asthma.
Furthermore, a recent research review echoed that the link between hydration and the immune system is an important future agenda item in hydration for health.
Ensuring proper hydration can support immune system function and overall health.
Here are 6 tips for staying hydrated in your daily life.
1. Drink plain water regularly
Starting your day by drinking water will make it easier to become ingrained as a habit later in the day. It also helps to replace dehydrating drinks like coffee that you may normally consume at that time.
2. Keep a water bottle in plain sight throughout the day
Keeping your water bottle front and center will keep your hydration goals top of mind. You’ll be much more likely to drink it if it’s in front of you. Set a goal for yourself and stay accountable.
3. Set an alarm or reminder to drink water
You can set one for every 30 minutes to keep you drinking water frequently. Doing this can help. There are also a variety of water tracker apps you can use that will help you keep track of your daily water intake, set goals and reminders.
4. Add flavor
If only drinking plain water starts to feel boring, add natural flavorings like lemon, lime, or cucumber to spice things up.
5. Eat plenty of foods with high water content
Many fresh fruits and vegetables contain amounts of water that can contribute to your total daily intake. High water content foods include cucumbers, celery, watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, and bell peppers.
6. Try an electrolyte hydration blend
If you tire of drinking plain water or naturally flavored water, enjoy an electrolyte hydration blend drink to help support the replenishment of water and nutrients. This can be especially helpful before or after long periods of physical activity when you are more likely to lose electrolytes through sweat.
In addition to hydrating, we need electrolytes to perform everyday activities that require muscle contractions and movement and to help replenish water and nutrients. Therefore, meeting your electrolyte needs should be a part of your overall hydration strategy.†
If you’re still asking yourself, “why is hydration important?” there are several benefits to health from staying hydrated.
While we know water is essential for overall health, is water necessary for immune function as well? Yes, the research does seem to support this, and the good news is your lifestyle choices can influence your hydration status. Support your hydration and immune health by prioritizing water intake and foods, such a fruits and vegetables, with high water content.†
Nature Made® is committed to supporting your health. Explore our products, including daily multivitamins to incorporate into your wellness routine.
Learn More About Hydration, Immunity, and Electrolytes:
Shaheen NA, Alqahtani AA, Assiri H, Alkhodair R, Hussein MA. Public knowledge of dehydration and fluid intake practices: variation by participants' characteristics. BMC Public Health. 2018 Dec 5;18(1):1346. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-6252-5. PMID: 30518346; PMCID: PMC6282244.
Chishaki T, Umeda T, Takahashi I, Matsuzaka M, Iwane K, Matsumoto H, Ishibashi G, Ueno Y, Kashiwa N, Nakaji S. Effects of dehydration on immune functions after a judo practice session. Luminescence. 2013 Mar-Apr;28(2):114-20. doi: 10.1002/bio.2349. Epub 2012 Feb 24. PMID: 22362640.
Kim KB, Kwak YS. Dehydration affects exercise-induced asthma and anaphylaxis. J Exerc Rehabil. 2019 Oct 28;15(5):647-650. doi: 10.12965/jer.1938470.235. PMID: 31723551; PMCID: PMC6834710.
Melissa Mitri, RD is a seasoned dietitian and health writer. She specializes in helping women move away from restrictive habits that lead to vicious yo-yo weight cycles. Melissa enjoys writing about health, nutrition, and fitness with the goal of simplifying complex health topics for the reader. Find out more about Melissa at www.melissamitri.com
Kalyn is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and a Science & Health Educator with the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. Her experience in the field of nutrition prior to joining Pharmavite has included community and public health education, media dietetics, and clinical practice in the areas of disordered eating, diabetes, women’s health, and general wellness. Kalyn received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona, and completed her dietetic supervised practice in Maricopa County, AZ, with an emphasis on public health. Kalyn is certified in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where she is an active member in addition to memberships in Dietitians in Functional Medicine, Women’s Health Dietitians, and the International Federation of Eating Disorder Dietitians.