Water's Journey Through The Body

You've taken a sip of water - what happens next? Where does it go?

By: Aditi Pai

Water is the foundation that all known life is built upon. From the most basic cells to most complex animals, nothing that we know of can survive without it. Water serves a massive variety of essential functions, from helping us absorb nutrients to regulating body temperature. You can kind of think of it as the Swiss Army Knife of our bodies. So, what exactly happens when you drink water and why is water so crucial to our survival and health? 

In this article, we will follow water’s journey through the human body and discover why water is so important to life.

Why water is so important to the body?

The best way to learn about the myriad of roles water plays in our daily functions and health is to learn about where it goes when you drink it and track the journey from beginning to end.

One of the most common questions about the journey of water is “how long does it take for water to reach the bladder?” The average person can process about 33.8 ounces of fluid per hour, but only 20% of the water that you drink actually makes it through the entire process to the bladder. Along the journey, water will stop to perform many other necessary errands like lubricating organs, removing waste, regulating body temperature, and aiding nutrient absorption. 

The better the water that we drink, the less work our bodies have to do toxins and contaminants.

Because water affects so many parts of our bodies and health, it is crucial to drink healthier, filtered water that’s free of harmful toxins and contaminants. The better the water we drink, the less work our bodies have to do filtering toxins and contaminants. Modern water filters are one of the best ways to ensure that the water we drink is safe, healthy, and tastes great.


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Where does water go when you drink it?

One of the most common questions about drinking water is “what happens to water when you drink it?” Water’s journey generally begins when it’s ingested through the mouth. The first big step in the process is the body registering hydration. After a few gulps of water, the brain will generally convince the body — prematurely – that the body has had enough to drink.

This is an important hydration mechanism because it takes a long time for the water consumed to reach cells and provide them with sufficient hydration. If the brain registered hydration only after cells received water, people would be drinking way more than the body really needs. The communication between the brain and mouth directs people to stop drinking, even if the water hasn’t fully hydrated the system yet.

How does water travel through the body?

Water travels through the esophagus, which is a small pipe connected to the mouth, and eventually lands in the stomach. A lot of people wonder “how long does it take for water to digest?”or “how is water digested?”. One of the main differences between eating food and drinking water is that water is absorbed rather than digested. The process of water absorption into the bloodstream begins in the stomach.

The amount of water absorbed in the stomach and how quickly water is absorbed depends, in part, on how much has been eaten. If someone is drinking water on an empty stomach, they are more likely to experience a faster rate of water absorption – as quick as 5 minutes after taking a drink. Whereas, if a person has eaten a lot of food before they drink water, the speed of absorption will slow down accordingly and absorption could take up to a few hours.

What does water do for the body?

Though water isn’t technically digested, it’s a crucial element for digestion, especially when digesting protein. Water should always be consumed with meals so that your body can properly digest and absorb the nutrients from food. Properly filtered water is ideal because it does not contain harmful chemicals and contaminants that can upset the digestive process.

The majority of water’s absorption into the bloodstream occurs after water passes through the stomach and into the small intestine. The small intestine, at around 20 feet long, is the organ primarily responsible for water absorption through its walls and into the bloodstream. From here, water will travel to cells across the body, providing them with the hydration to perform daily functions efficiently.

One of the most important functions of water in the body is filtering toxins. This is primarily the job of the kidneys, but to filter toxins efficiently, kidneys require a large amount of fresh water. If the kidney does not receive enough water, it could lead to health concerns including kidney stones and other kidney-related diseases. Fortunately, one way the kidneys inform someone of whether they’re providing their body with enough water is by concentrating the amount of water expelled through urine – thus changing the color of urine to bright yellow. Drinking filtered water is one of the best ways to support your kidneys because they can remove some of the toxins, reducing the strain on your body.

Water doesn’t just keep you physically healthy. Another vital function of water is keeping brain cells hydrated to maintain cerebral functions. Without the appropriate level of hydration, studies have shown that people experience impaired short-term memory function and visual motor skills. Drinking generous amounts of filtered water is a great way to bolster cognitive functions and mental health.

Water can also help to improve skin health by keeping it hydrated and healthy. Drinking at least 8 glasses a day will help to remove toxins from the skin and maintain proper hydration. For those that are seeking to maintain healthy, glowing skin, proper hydration can help to improve skin elasticity and mitigate wrinkles. Skin disorders such as eczema, dandruff, and psoriasis can be heavily affected by the moisture of your skin. By drinking and showering with healthy, filtered water, we can protect our skin and keep it looking good.

How is water removed from the body?

Once the body utilizes all of the water it needs to function efficiently, it then begins the process of removing excess water.

The most high-profile exit strategy of water is through the kidneys via urine. Kidneys use water to filter toxins out of the body, but when the kidney has used as much as it needs; it gets rid of the rest through urine. This method of releasing water is incredibly useful to learn about levels of hydration, which can be discerned from the color of the urine.  

Water waste removed through urination

This also ties back to the question “how long does it take water to reach the bladder?” or “how long does it take to pee after drinking water?” Your hydration level determines how quickly your body will send water to your kidneys, which then goes to the bladder once it gets processed as urine. If you’re very hydrated, your body will send the excess water into the kidneys quickly because it’s not needed elsewhere. If you’re dehydrated, the water will be absorbed and sent to maintain vital functions before it eventually reaches the kidneys to remove toxins. It generally takes your body 9 to 10 hours to produce 2 cups of urine.

Water leaves the body in four main ways: through the kidneys, skin, large intestine, and mouth

Water waste removed in stools

Another exit point for water is through stools. Healthy fecal matter consists of 75% water and 25% solid matter. Once the small intestine has absorbed enough water to send throughout the body, it will pass the water along to the large intestine. When water reaches the large intestine, it will combine with solid matter to soften stool and aid digestion.

Body temperature regulation through sweating

When someone exercises or heats up, small droplets of water, also known as sweat, will appear on the skin to cool the body. Sweat is a natural way the body regulates its temperature. It’s estimated that most individuals sweat at a rate of 500 to 700 mL per day, but people can sweat at a rate of up to one liter per hour during high-intensity exercise in a hot environment. While drinking water during exercise will help replace these fluids, the best strategy is to continuously drink water throughout the day to ensure adequate hydration.

Small droplets of water also exit the body via the breath. This is most evident on a cold day when a person can clearly see their breath. Nonetheless, it occurs with every breath we take and is one of the main reasons someone may feel slightly dehydrated in the morning after a full night of restful sleep.

Now that you know what happens to water in your body, learn about different types of water and find out how much water you should consume daily.

The best water for a journey through the body

Now that we better understand how water moves through the body and why water is so crucial to our physical and mental wellbeing, we need to find ways to get the best water possible. Water filters are one of the easiest ways to consistently drink pure, healthy water that doesn’t contain dangerous toxins or contaminants. Whether you want to invest in a whole house water filtration system, which filters all of the water in your house, an affordable countertop water filter, or a simple filtered water bottle for hydration on the go, look for an NSF Certified Product to ensure that you are getting some of the best water filters on the market.

Water filters are one of the easiest ways to consistently drink pure, healthy water that doesn’t contain dangerous toxins or contaminants.