Staying hydrated and cardiovascular health are closely linked, but how much water is enough for your heart health?
Think eight glasses of water is enough to keep you hydrated? It might not be enough.
A recent study showed 75% of 3,000 participants were chronically dehydrated, despite drinking 8 servings of water a day.
Whether you’re about to go on a run or simply sitting at your desk, drinking enough water is vital for staying hydrated and keeping your heart healthy.
How Does Staying Hydrated and Cardiovascular Health Relate?
Our bodies are made of about 60% water and our muscles contain 80% water. And without a healthy amount of water, the body can’t be at its healthiest.
Your cardiovascular system is heavily impacted by the amount of water you drink.
As you stay hydrated, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood, your muscles have more energy, and your blood pressure stays lower (than without adequate water).
Without sufficient hydration, your blood volume decreases and retains more sodium in the blood.
High sodium content in the blood stream is detrimental to blood flow since it thickens the blood and makes it harder for it to flow through the veins.
Difficulty moving blood through blood cells results in higher blood pressure and could cause heart problems such as heart disease.
Additionally, a new study found that dehydration can reduce flexibility in blood vessels and harden the arteries. This also occurs when poor dieting, lack of exercise, or smoking is a person’s lifestyle choice.
The combination of hardened and narrowed blood vessels and higher sodium levels makes dehydration even more dangerous for your heart.
What Does it Mean to Be Dehydrated?
Dehydration is when your body is expending more water than the amount it is taking in.
Every part of your body requires water to function and without it, it slows down and can even cause problems like kidney stones and fatigue.
Think of your body as a car and water as oil. Generally, your car will indicate that your oil needs changes, but it’s not immediate–there’s usually some leeway time.
Your car will still function the same but it may start having problems the longer you don’t change the oil until the engine stops and you’re done for.
Your body is the same in the sense that you get a warning sign of dehydration–thirst. By the time you’re thirsty, you’re actually about 1-2% dehydrated already.
If you don’t drink water at those warning signs, you have some time before your body starts slowing down and your brain stops working as well.
If you wait too long and push your body too hard without water, you can pass out, your organs start failing, and your heart rate and blood pressure rises.
Who Needs to Drink Water?
Everyone! The amount of water needed will vary depending on exercise, weight, and the amount a person sweats.
Drinking beverages with caffeine, alcohol, or tons of sugar will undo the effects of water and dehydrate you. Caffeine, for instance, acts as a diuretic and will drain you of your fluids faster on top of not giving your body what it needs.
If you exercise, make sure to not only drink water after your workout, but long before it and during it as well. Water is key for staying hydrated and cardiovascular health.
How Much Water Should I Drink?
As a baseline, everyone can do this equation to figure out how much water they need:
Body weight x .5 = Water needed in ounces
So if you weigh 150 pounds, your body needs 75 ounces of water a day.
Also, you can weigh yourself after you exercise to see how much weight you lost due to sweat.
Each pound of sweat lost take a pint of water to replace it. Keep this in mind and remember to drink up throughout the day!
Quick Tips to Stay Hydrated
- Keep a water bottle with you at all times
- Set a goal of how much water you’ll drink in a certain amount of time
- Flavor your water with fruit to make it more appealing
- Keep track of how much water you drink
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