Why water is essential for a strong immune system

December 6, 2022

We know that water is essential in the body, and the desire to be healthy is something we all have in common. Thankfully, there are measures we can take to increase the likelihood of us being well and aid us in fighting off infections. Most notably, staying hydrated can help your immune system, allowing you to stay healthy.

Why is water essential for life?

  • Water supports immunity, mood, digestion and more
  • Your body loses water through breathing, sweat and other everyday activities
  • Anyone can become dehydrated without drinking enough water
  • Water has no calories or artificial sweeteners, making it a healthy choice for your diet.

Man drinking water

Does drinking water help fight infections?

“Water is vital for the functioning of all of your organs, and it’s a huge part of keeping your immune system functioning at an optimal level,” says Dr. Jyothi Tirumalasetty, assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Health in the department of clinical immunology and allergy. “We are made of 60% water. If we are dehydrated, the whole system of immunity could start breaking down.”
Proper hydration, in combination with adequate nutrition and sleep, is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system. It’s important to understand our immune system and how it works.

Our immune system comprises a group of organs and blood cells that fight infection, allergies, disease, and autoimmune conditions. The organs in the immune system are responsible for making and releasing “lymphocytes”, which are white blood cells that identify and fight foreign invaders. These organs include:

  • Tonsils
  • Spleen
  • Thymus gland
  • Lymph nodes
  • Bone marrow

Woman grabbing glass of water

What we need to know about Hydration and our Immune System

Dehydration Makes us More Susceptible to Germs

Our immune system, as described by Dr. Tirumalasetty, is “our own private bodyguard”, defending us against infections and other harmful contaminants. One of the key components to our immune system and a barrier against infection is our skin. When our skin is broken, it is an open door to pathogens.
T cells can also be found in our immune system. They fight infection whilst working with B cells, which produce antibodies that use our blood to travel around our body. The antibodies work to recognise the pathogens and change to defend against them. Dr. Tirumalasetty describes water as “a solvent” that is essential to our immune system functioning as it should. Water carries the crucial components of our immune system, including the nutrients, around our bodies to where they need to go, whilst also removing waste. The waste has the potential to become toxic and can weaken the immune system if not removed.

Make Hydration a Priority

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine outlined recommendations for our daily intake of water, which is about 2.7 litres for women and 3.7 for men. Their research showed that, on average, 80% of water people consume comes from drinking water and other beverages, with 20% coming from food.
Dr. Tirumalasetty makes it clear that it’s better to switch to water, rather than relying on more unhealthy options like sugary, fizzy drinks for water. She also states that the amount of fluids an individual needs is dependent on a variety of factors, such as how much they exercise, what temperature climate they are in or if they have any medical issues.
She does, however, say that one universal rule is that if you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Employing some tricks to stay hydrated is advised, check out our 6 tips to beat dehydration.
“It’s just like getting eight hours of sleep and eating properly,” Dr. Tirumalasetty says. “Getting enough water is a huge component of wellness in my mind.”
For more information on the importance of hydration, see our blog.

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