The Benefits of Drinking Salt Water

businesswoman and a businessman talking near a water cooler
Drink your water plain or with a squeeze of lemon to get the most benefit. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Salt is an essential nutrient, but you're probably getting all you need in the food you eat. While drinking salt water does offer some benefits in some situations, claims that it helps with detox or digestion lack scientific backing. Consult your doctor before adding salt water to your diet.

Salt Water Claims

Saltwater flushes are used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine as a way to cleanse or detox the body. Proponents claim the salty drink helps clean your stomach, intestines and colon, while repairing the damage your diet has caused to the cells in your digestive tract. However, KidsHealth reports that there is no evidence to support claims that any drink or food helps cleanse or detox your body.

Salt Water Concerns

Drinking salt water may cause diarrhea, which may be what's meant when it's referred to as a colonic. However, the diarrhea is a physiological effect due to an overload of sodium in the intestines. The solutes in your digestive tract prevent your body from absorbing the water, which is what causes the diarrhea. In addition to being uncomfortable, diarrhea caused by the salt water may also lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Salt Water and Hydration

Salt water may be necessary for extreme athletes after a heavy workout in hot weather due to extremes in both fluid and sodium losses. Drinking plain water during these conditions may lead to hyponatremia, or too much sodium in the blood, due to a dilutional effect the water has on the body. Sports drinks help replenish both fluids and sodium; these drinks contain about 110 milligrams of sodium per 8-ounce serving, which is less than the amount of sodium found in a dash of salt.

Better Off With Plain Water

Unless you're an extreme athlete, you may be better off drinking plain water than salt water. Plain water not only helps keep you hydrated, but also improves digestion by helping to prevent constipation. Water is also necessary to help move nutrients and toxic substances out of your body by way of urine, stool and sweat. It also helps keep you feeling full and may prevent fluid retention.

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