Heart Health

Hydration improves heart health: myth or truth?

Water is essential for the health of all your organs, including your heart. Being well-hydrated helps protect against several cardiovascular diseases and can even reduce your risk for heart failure. But how much water should you drink? And what role does dehydration play in heart health? Let's take a closer look at the importance of drinking enough fluids to keep your heart healthy. 

Water and Body Connection
Water is essential for a healthy life, functioning like oil in the engine of our bodies. It makes up 50-80% of the human body, so proper water intake can substantially impact overall health – including our all-important hearts. Your hard-working ticker pumps approximately 7,600 liters every day – an impressive feat! Research proves that with its ability to transport nutrients and other fluids to lubricate joints and organs, water also provides structure to cells and tissues and bolsters cardiovascular health. 

Dehydration, at the same time, is a serious issue when the body loses more fluid than it takes in. Severe diarrhea or vomiting, certain conditions, medications, hot weather, or intense exercise may cause it. Ensure your muscles work to their full potential by keeping yourself well-hydrated. 

Lack of Fluids Leads to the Development of Heart Failure 
When your body lacks water, it can take a toll on the most intricate organ - your heart. Repercussions of dehydration may cause an increase in heart rate as blood circulation decreases and puts extra strain on the cardiovascular system. 

European Heart Journal's September 2022 study concluded that proper hydration could help protect against heart failure, as demonstrated by its 25-year tracking of 12,000 middle-aged adults. Over the testing period, those who maintained an appropriate hydration level had significantly lower sodium levels - a key determinant in forecasting potential cardiovascular risks.
A recently published scientific article in Hospital Nutrition made a noteworthy discovery in September 2022; adequate hydration can improve overall health and lower the risk of several illnesses. According to their findings, satisfying daily hydration needs leads to a decreased incidence of fatal coronary heart disease, high blood sugar levels, and type 2 diabetes. Comparably, those who do not meet their required hydration intake are more likely to put on excessive weight or have an increased risk of obesity. Professional medical experts recommend increasing fluid consumption as an essential step toward personal wellness and health management.

Dehydration damages heart function, as highlighted by a study published in Nutrients in 2019. Under dehydration, your heart needs to expend more energy to pump blood, resulting in an increased heart rate which can cause irregular heartbeat or palpitations. The change in consistency of your blood causes it to thicken and your blood vessels to constrict, leading to additional stress on your heart that could contribute to high blood pressure. Seeking medical assistance is always advised when dehydration or any issues related to heart function arise. Taking preventive measures can help maintain your health and well-being in the long term.

The 2017 study revealed that drinking water not only reduces cardiac workload in healthy adults, and this function cuts across all genders. Furthermore, the data showed a decrease in heart rate and increased resistance and variability when consuming H2O - ultimately confirming it is an invaluable asset for long-term cardiovascular health.

Hydration and HRV 
Regular water intake before or post-exercise helps protect against severe cardiovascular events because the risk of such events usually increases after physical exertion. Numerous studies have confirmed that drinking water bolsters Heart Rate Variability (HRV) performance at any time of the day. Recent research has uncovered an exciting connection between dehydration and the body's autonomic nervous system - feeling thirsty could act as a signal to reduce heart rate variability. 
Another scientific study underscores just how important hydration is for maintaining healthy sleep and cognitive function. Its findings suggest that not hydrating before bedtime can harm our nocturnal heart rate variability, highlighting the significance of proper fluid intake in overall well-being.

How Much Water Should You Drink? 
While it may sound simple, getting your daily hydration is challenging. The adage that you need to drink eight glasses of water a day isn't entirely accurate—but it's not completely wrong either. The water you need depends on various factors, including age, activity level, health status, and environment. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine estimate suggests that a man should aim for approximately 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) while women should strive to consume 11.5 cups (2.7 liters). But your intake shouldn't come solely through fluid consumption - 20% can also be achieved with food!  

Tips for Increasing Your Water Intake
Staying hydrated can be challenging, especially if you do not enjoy the taste of plain water. To increase your water intake, start small by setting yourself realistic goals. 
  1. Start by aiming for 2 glasses of water at breakfast and lunch, followed by another 2 with dinner; add an extra glass before bedtime to reach the goal. As a successful habit forms, gradually increase your intake until you get the desired amount. 
  2. Mix it up by adding flavor variations, such as slices of fruits or vegetables - lemons and cucumber to make drinking more enjoyable. 
  3. Carrying a water bottle with you ensures that you're always hydrated, while a water bottle left at your desk helps you to take sips throughout the day. 
  4. Using an app to track your intake is also a great way to ensure you stay on top of your hydration goals. 
  5. Finally, try setting reminders on your phone to ensure that you take regular breaks from work and rehydrate with a glass of water throughout the day. 

Respectfully yours,