Stay Hydrated

How to Stay Hydrated

Most people don’t fully understand the importance of consuming the appropriate amount of water.  It’s one of the most essential nutrients human beings need to survive considering the human body is over 60% water.  This means that without adequate water consumption, many bodily processes won’t function properly, or at all.  Sufficient water levels are especially important for three main roles: brain function, waste elimination/blood filtration, and joint and disc function.

Our brain responds favorably when properly hydrated.  Because our brain tissue is around 73% water, when it is dehydrated it will actually shrink in size.  When brain tissue shrinks, it can result in strange symptoms such as headaches, brain fog, loss of mental acuity, and fatigue. 

How Water Effects the Body

Water also plays a vital role in waste removal and blood filtration.  Our body must maintain a very specific balance between sodium and water.  If the balance is too far off in in either direction, the body is not able to effectively eliminate waste.  This is most evident in the kidneys. Without adequate water levels, too little urine is produced and the body cannot rid itself of waste.  This, in turn, causes the blood to become thicker and more concentrated, triggering an increase in blood pressure and decrease in blood flow.  This results in more stress on the organs and tissues and more difficulty performing simple tasks.

A dehydrated individual may experience more back pain, decreased range of motion, and pain during movement.  This a common occurrence in cartilaginous (cartilage) joints.  Cartilage joints are 60% water, meaning when dehydrated, they shrink, almost like a sponge (just like the brain!).  Shrunken joints mean decreased joint space, increased friction, more degeneration, and more pain.  This is especially an issue when talking about the intervertebral discs.  These joints help space out the spine, provide space for nerves to leave the spine, and shock absorption. 

Tips to Help you Drink More Water 

So how can these troubles be avoided? The simple answer: drink water.  Here are some simple tips you can follow to avoid dehydration.

1.     Make extra efforts to drink water regularly. Plan on drinking close to half your body weight in ounces every day.  For example, if you weight 150 lbs, drink 75 oz of water a day.

2.     Drink extra water during times of heat or strenuous exercise. Significant amount of water is lost through sweat.  Replacing what is lost will help the body maintain function when under stress.

3.     Avoid drinking unnecessary diuretics like coffee and carbonated beverages.  Diuretics pull extra fluids from body tissues into the intestines (causing more frequent urination). If you do consume any diuretics, make sure you also drink extra water to replace what was lost.

4.     Keep your body moving.  Movement will pump the discs like a sponge which will continue to move nutrients and fluid into and out of the discs.

5. Invest in a water bottle. Having a reusable water bottle to take with you will help you remember to drink more water through out the day. Look for bottles that are BPA free to prevent adding toxins into your body. Some of our favorites are made of steel or glass.

Christopher Scrivner