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The Digestive Health Benefits of Water

But getting enough water doesn’t just help you regulate how much you eat -- it helps you digest it properly, as well.

“Water allows your kidneys to function properly and filter everything they need to, and allows us to eliminate effectively and not be constipated,” Melton says. “People who don’t get enough fluids in their diet tend to be constipated.”

And that’s not all. The single biggest cause of painful kidney stones is chronic dehydration. When you don’t get enough water, calcium and other minerals build up in your urine and are harder for your body to filter out. They can form the crystals that make up kidney and urinary stones.

Doctors who specialize in pediatric kidney problems report seeing more kidney stones in children in recent years, and they believe it’s because of a combination of factors. Many kids aren’t drinking enough water. Also, many kids are overweight and eat a poor diet.

“I’ve been in this field for over 30 years, and I’d say that until about the last 10 to 15 years, you almost never saw stones in kids,” says Robert Weiss, MD, chief of pediatric nephrology at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital of the Westchester Medical Center in New York. “Lately, the frequency is increasing dramatically.”

How Much Water Do You Need?

How can you know if you’re getting enough water to keep your metabolism cranking at peak efficiency and your digestive system functioning? The formula used to be “one size fits all” -- eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. But that’s changed, experts say.

“It depends on your size and weight, and also on your activity level and where you live,” Nessler says. “In general, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day.” For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. If you’re living in a hot climate and exercising a lot, you’d be on the higher end of that range; if you’re in a cooler climate and mostly sedentary, you’d need less.

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