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Water for Joint Health

Water is critical to life and this includes the human body. There is no shortage of websites out there all sharing their opinions as to how much water we need every day to thwart off dehydration and to nourish all cells in our body. The reality is that there is no “one size fits all” answer for this. Drinking to avert thirst is not enough. Every cell in our body needs water and this includes the joints in our body.

How Much Water to Drink Daily?

The amount of fluid we need in order for all our cells to perform their best varies according to factors such as climate, physical activity levels, and physiology. As a rough guideline, the Dieticians of Canada suggest 2.2 litres (nine cups) per day for women and three litres (12 cups) for men. These totals include food moisture, which accounts for about one-fifth of the average person’s liquid intake and more for people who eat a lot of fruit and veggies. Keep in mind that you’ll need extra fluids if you’re exercising, if the weather is hot, if you are not feeling well, or if you’re somewhere with indoor heating (which can rob moisture from your skin).

As we age our bodies change and with that is the ability to detect the onset of dehydration. Adults from about 20 to 60 years of age generally know when they are thirsty, and this means dehydration has already started. Seniors must take extra care to get fluids on a regular basis every day because their bodies do not detect thirst as easy as they once did. Also, many older people tend to have modest appetites, so they receive less fluid from food. Ageing kidneys tend to function a little less in our elderly so they are sometimes not as good at conserving the water they do get.

It is possible to consume too much water. Those who have certain health conditions such as thyroid disease, kidney, liver, or heart problems may trigger other health issues. Also, individuals who take medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, opiate pain medications, and (some) antidepressants risk water retention.

As the body loses water without replacing it, the blood becomes more concentrated and, at a point, this triggers the kidneys to retain water. Also, dehydration means that blood becomes thicker and more concentrated. This creates difficulties. For example, the cardiovascular system compensates by increasing the heart rate to maintain blood pressure. In addition, when a dehydrated body is forced to keep going, such as during exercising or heat stress, the risk of exhaustion or collapse greatly increases. For example, this can cause a person to faint when standing up too quickly.

Thicker blood also means that it is not flowing as freely as it needs to in order to bring oxygen, nutrients and water to all parts of the body. Joints, therefore, become dehydrated.

Benefits of Drinking Water

Water keeps every system in the body functioning properly. The Harvard Medical School Special Health Report: “6-Week Plan for Health Eating” notes that water has many important jobs such as:

• carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells
• flushes bacteria from the bladder
• aids digestion
• prevents constipation
• normalizes blood pressure
• stabilizes heartbeat
• protects organs and tissues
• regulates body temperature
• maintains electrolyte (sodium) balance
• cushions joints

Our Joints and Water

Water is the most abundant component of the articular cartilage, contributing up to 80 percentage of its wet weight. Approximately 30 percent of this water is associated with the intrafibrillar space within the collagen, although a small percentage is contained in the intracellular space.

Generally, tendons and ligaments consist of about 20 percent cellular material and about 80 percent extracellular material. The extracellular material is further subdivided into about 30 percent solids and 70 percent water. These extracellular solids include collagen and a small amount of elastin. Around 65 to 80 percentage of cartilage is water.

What this means is that the lack of hydration is sometimes associated with joint pain. The water content in cartilage is regulated by proteins that become a gel-like consistency when they come into contact with water. This gel-like liquid provides cushioning, lubrication, shock absorption and nutrition to the cartilage in our joints. They are the framework, much like a sponge. For the sponge to be “full” and provide that “cushion” it needs to be filled with water. This is why, even if you take specific supplements for your joints, without enough water, they will not provide the best benefits. Worse, those taking some prescribed or over-the-counter medications such as NSAIDS may be at risk of chronic dehydration. Some medicines have an effect on the distribution of electrolytes and salts in the body therefore reducing swelling and inflammation associated with pain; however, this can further reduce water content in the body.

According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73 percent water, and the lungs are about 83 percent water. The skin contains 64 percent water, muscles and kidneys are 79 percent, and even the bones contain 31 percent water. Not only do these parts of the body require water, so does the articular cartilage, synovial fluid, ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

Without water in the joints, people become susceptible to joint damage and degeneration. It is of the utmost importance to make sure you get a sufficient amount of water to help protect your joints.

Established in 2007 by Dr. Behalf Sanjari, Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has a proven record of commitment providing quality health care services in the Greater Toronto Area. Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has qualified professionals who can provide the services you need. Chiro-Med has clinics located in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, visit Chiro-Med online or call 905-918-0419 or 905-235-2620 for more information.