WATER :

Vital for life.

Prevents your trouser hem trailing in puddles.

Water for life

The female body is made up of approximately 55% water¹. Therefore, staying hydrated ensures all the systems of our body are functioning correctly making water absolutely vital for life. Every organ and every cell in your body contains water, meaning when we do not hydrate sufficiently our bodies do not function correctly. Hydration should feature high on your list of every day wellness goals.

All our organs contain varying percentages of water. Included in this are our muscular and skeletal systems where the health of our joints depends heavily on maintaining proper hydration levels.  The discs which sit between our spinal bones (intervertebral discs) work as shock absorbers allowing you to move dynamically and safely in varying directions and act as a buffer to stop the bones from rubbing together.  The disc is made up of a thick fibrous outer layer (annulus fibrosus) and a soft gel like centre (nucleus pulposus). When contained in the disc, the contents remains gel-like but require regular hydration to remain so.

Water for mobility

Day to day as we move, the discs are compressed by the spine – which is perfectly normal – but in doing so the water contained within is squeezed out. When the disc is deprived of water it can result in pain and lack of mobility. Aging and sedentary lifestyles can be precursors to dehydration in the discs meaning even simple movements can cause discomfort or range issues. If you do not hydrate sufficiently, the body is unable to replenish the water in the discs meaning they remain compressed causing the function of the spine to be compromised.

So, it is worthwhile considering that your back pain/restricted range of movement/mobility issues/uneven movement patterns may actually be a symptom of dehydration.

Water for function

If the body is dehydrated, in order to remain functioning it retrieves what water is present from other parts of the body starting with the extremities and the spine.  It then redirects the water to vital organs to ensure they are functioning and able to sustain life. When dishing out water in the body, the spine is generally the last place to receive it’s fair share if any at all, meaning you remain in an H2O deficit possibly perpetuating the pain and immobility. So, it is essential to be aware of your hydration levels throughout the day so that your body can tap (no pun intended!) into the fluids you are ingesting and not feverishly trying to suck out the last drops of water swimming around your body.

Whilst general movement and physical activity encourages lubrication and possible continued production of fluid⁴, the most significant rehydration occurs whilst you sleep. Lying down decreases the amount of pressure on the spine by 76% (Nachemson & Elfstrom) thus allowing the body to start the rehydration of your intervertebral discs via osmosis. This means sleep is essential to your structural health.

Water for the win

How much water you drink is a hot topic ranging from 8 glasses a day (roughy 2 litres)  to 4 litres, particularly if you are exercising or have an active job. The NHS³ suggests that the body can be properly hydrated with six to eight glasses of water a day (1.2 litres). So, no need to be excessive; overhydration (or Hyponatremia – excess fluid in the body relative to the amount of sodium) is dangerous as it results in low levels of sodium in the blood which may cause nausea, vomiting, confusion, loss of consciousness.

Water for height!

A study at Wroclaw University, Poland² (Zak M, Pezowicz C) shows evidence of an increase in the thickness and height of the intervertebral disc’s thick outer layer (annulus fibrosus)  following overnight rehydration, which makes you (marginally) taller in the morning than you were when you went to bed – which is why you always have to re-adjust your rear view mirror when you get in your car, and means your trouser hem won’t trail in puddles until approximately 4pm!

Water : essential for health and height!

References:

¹ https://water.usgs.gov/edu/propertyyou.html

² https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27412449

³ https://www.insidescience.org/news/how-does-physical-activity-preserve-lubricated-joints

https://www.nhs.uk/news/food-and-diet/six-to-eight-glasses-of-water-still-best/