Does drinking water lower blood pressure? The link between water and blood pressure is a rather common one. For instance, water is known to play a key part in preventing dehydration and maintaining normal blood pressure levels.
The body cries for water, and without it, dehydration can lead to low blood pressure—also called hypotension. This is due to a reduced blood volume that lowers pressure against the artery walls. At the same time, can dehydration cause blood pressure to rise?
This article will explore the link between drinking water and blood pressure in greater detail, including how drinking water lowers blood pressure, the link between dehydration and blood pressure, the effect drinking too much water has on blood pressure, and the do’s and don’ts when it comes to drinking water and blood pressure.
In This Article:
How Drinking Water Lowers Blood Pressure
How does drinking water lower blood pressure? Normal blood pressure is the main benefit of drinking water. Although drinking water lowers blood pressure, it can also increase blood pressure to help maintain proper levels.
In a study published in the journal Circulation in 2000, researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Autonomic Dysfunction Center would report on water’s potent blood pressure-raising effect in patients with autonomic nervous system failure.
Keep in mind that low blood pressure is among the symptoms associated with autonomic dysfunction.
On average, 16 ounces of tap water had increased blood pressure by 40 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) in autonomic failure patients. Blood pressure had started to increase within two to three minutes of water consumption.
There would then be a rapid increase over the next 15 minutes, before a blood pressure reduction after about an hour. Drinking water at the 60-minute mark led to blood pressure being sustained for another hour.
Dehydration and Blood Pressure
Can dehydration cause blood pressure to rise? It absolutely can.
Basically, when you fail to drink enough water, the body will compensate through sodium retention, which can lead to high blood pressure.
In other words, sodium is like the body’s water insurance policy. It helps regulate the amount of water that is around and in your cells.
Dehydration forces the body to slowly shut down some of its capillary beds throughout your entire system. When some of these capillary beds shut down, this puts greater pressure on both your capillaries and arteries, and in turn raises your blood pressure.
Not drinking enough water also causes the blood to thicken. The heart then squeezes and pushes the thick blood to the aorta. The blood then must fall out from the bend of the aorta.
When blood is too thick, this can reduce blood flow, and therefore gravity is not strong enough to pull it down toward your feet. As a result, the muscles must squeeze and work harder.
When these muscles squeeze, they increase the pressure inside your blood vessels, and this leads to hypertension.
How Water Thins the Blood
Drinking greater amounts of water is one of the better ways of thinning thickened blood.
It makes you wonder why doctors prescribe drugs rather than just drinking water. It makes sense when you think about it. Patients with hypertension are often prescribed diuretics for urination, blood thinners to thin the blood, and calcium channel blockers to prevent the muscles from squeezing blood vessels.
But, drinking water will also make you urinate and thin the blood, which also prevents the need for the muscles to squeeze the blood vessels.
Other Benefits of Water and Blood Pressure
Drinking water is also able to detoxify the blood of wastes and toxins better than other drinks. With this detoxification, water is able to remove excess sodium, and this is a great way to reduce blood pressure. This also takes pressure off the kidneys.
Water Content in the Diet
Although drinking water can lower blood pressure, so can a diet high in fruit and vegetables. That is because many vegetables and fruit are mostly made of water.
A diet high in processed foods full of salt and sugar will increase your blood pressure. However, a diet rich in vegetables and fruit will lower your blood pressure. You will want to get organic fruit and vegetables when available, which are free from pesticides.
Effect of Drinking Excess Water on Blood Pressure
Drinking water is great for lowering blood pressure; however, can you drink too much water? It is possible that drinking excessive amounts can also increase blood pressure.
Drinking adequate amounts of water helps regulate body temperature, prevent constipation, flush waste products, and lower blood pressure. That being said, drinking too much can also be a problem.
Drinking more water may even cause the body to hold on to more water. This makes it difficult for the body to flush out sodium, which worsens high blood pressure, especially in those already with hypertension. If you are sensitive to sodium, you are also more likely to develop high blood pressure.
Water intoxication can result from overhydration when the sodium (salt) and other electrolytes in the body become too diluted. Hyponatremia is a condition that can form when sodium levels become very low.
It can lead to confusion, dizziness, and put you at risk of a falling into a coma or resulting in death if not treated quickly.
Increased water intake can occur when you consume more water than your kidneys are able to remove from urination. This can lead to too much water being collected in the blood.
Overhydration also occurs when the body cannot properly eliminate water due to conditions such as kidney problems, liver disease, congestive heart failure, uncontrolled diabetes, and schizophrenia.
Overhydration is a problem among endurance athletes that drink a lot of water before and during exercise. For example, it is common in Ironman triathletes, marathon runners, endurance cyclists, elite rowers, hikers, and members of the military with intense training.
Lowering Blood Pressure Naturally with Water: Do’s and Don’ts
It is true that you can lower your blood pressure naturally with pure, filtered water. The following are a few tips to help you reduce blood pressure naturally with water.
Here are the do’s and don’ts of drinking water for lower blood pressure:
1. Drink the Right Amount of Water
When it comes to drinking water, the most common suggestion is eight 8-oz. glasses per day. However, as a more personal approach, divide your body weight by two, and aim to drink that amount in ounces daily.
For instance, a 200-pound person should consume about 100 ounces of water daily. Drinking a glass of water before taking a bath can also help flush toxins from the body and reduce blood pressure.
2. Avoid Drinking Too Much Water
Remember, drinking too much water can be a problem, and lead to over hydration that can overwork the kidneys and digestive system.
Stress and hypertension can lead to weakened kidneys. That is why it is important not to drink copious amounts of water every minute of the day.
3. Drink Water during Exercise
Since you lose water through sweating, drinking water before, during, and after exercise can help you stay hydrated. However, overhydration may still be an issue in certain endurance athletes like marathon runners.
Final Thoughts on Drinking Water and Blood Pressure
How does drinking water lower blood pressure? Here are a few key takeaways from this article on drinking water and blood pressure:
- Dehydration is a key result when you fail to drink enough water, and this can lead to high blood pressure.
- Not drinking enough water also leads the blood to thicken. In turn, drinking more water can help thin thickened blood.
- Avoid drinking too much water. This can lead to overhydration and a condition known as hyponatremia.
- To maintain healthy blood pressure levels, drink a glass of water every two hours and follow a plant-based diet with lots of water-rich vegetables and fruit.
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Article Sources (+)
Case-Lo, C., “What is the autonomic nervous system?” healthline, May 13, 2016; https://www.healthline.com/health/autonomic-dysfunction, last accessed Jan. 10, 2018.
“Dehydration and High Blood Pressure,” Optimum Health; http://optimum-health.org/Dehydration_High_Blood_Pressure/, last accessed Jan. 10, 2018.
Radcliffe, S., et al., “Overhydration,” healthline, June 28, 2017; https://www.healthline.com/health/overhydration, last accessed Jan. 10, 2018.
Mangano, F., The Blood Pressure Miracle (New York: Strategic Book Publishing, 2009) 62, 64.