Water, water everywhere….. but are you drinking enough?
All my clients know that I am passionate about drinking water. It usually comes up at least once during an appointment with me, poor things they probably feel like they are being battered over the head with a water hammer! And I’m sure most of them only drink the water I give them at the end of an appointment to keep me quiet.
There is a reason for my nagging though, many of my clients have muscle and joint pain. Many of those with muscle and joint pain are not keeping hydrated, they may only have a couple of drinks of tea or coffee a day. This is NOT enough fluid to maintain balance in your body, but there is an important caveat - if you have been told by a medical professional that you need to be careful with your fluid intake then you should stick with their guidelines.
It’s normal to feel extra thirsty after spicy food or exercising BUT if your thirst is stronger than usual or doesn’t go away when you’ve had your drinks, it can be a sign of an underlying health condition and you should speak to your GP. In fact, if you have any concerns about your health, if you have a symptom or symptoms that you are anxious about, get an appointment with your GP as soon as you can.
So why is drinking water good for you?
Over half of your body is made up of water, this varies with age, sex, health, and weight but the average adult female is approximately 52-55% water, the average male is 60-63% water. So, it makes sense to keep hydrated, especially when you consider that water is necessary to support your immune system, which in turn helps you fight off infection.
Water aids your digestion, keeping hydrated will help your bowels and is particularly important if you suffer from constipation.
Water is important for our heart and blood circulation. Just think, keeping hydrated will help the blood carry nutrients and oxygen around your body. Great for your joints and muscles and for your brain to work well. Have you ever had brain fog, or a headache and it has cleared after a non-alcoholic drink?
Brain-fog? Yes, you menopausal ladies, keeping hydrated can help. A lot of things change during menopause and you may need to reconsider your diet and fluid intake. Think about it, if like me you are warmer than normal and having hot flushes, your body is expelling more fluid, you need to keep it topped up. Another symptom of menopause can also be joint pain!
Why is water good for joint pain?
Well, between the bones that make up your joint is cartilage. Cartilage is a connective tissue; it lines the surface of the joints, reduces friction, and acts as a cushion between the bones. Cartilage is your shock absorber! Cartilage is kept lubricated by synovial fluid, which is a gel-like liquid secreted by the synovial membrane. Synovial fluid is the oil that keeps your pistons and levers moving freely.
Since approximately 60% of joint cartilage is made of water, it is particularly important that you keep hydrated, otherwise the production of synovial fluid will reduce and the risk of cartilage deterioration and joint pain increases.
Would you forget to put oil in your car engine or on your bike chain? No? Well, likewise you need to keep your own pistons and levers lubricated.
It’s ok if you don’t like water, in the UK it is suggested that you aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water and other liquids each day. This is about 1.2 to 1.5 litres of fluid on average and can include water, low fat milk and sugar-free drinks, including tea and coffee.
But bear in mind, whilst caffeinated tea and coffee do contribute to your fluid intake, they may also make you pee a bit more. And if it’s a warm day, you have been exercising or you’re sat inside with the central heating on, you may need to increase your fluid intake.
You can always add something tasty to your water, but you also need to keep in mind your sugar intake, which can contribute to weight gain. So try adding a herbal tea bag or slice of lemon (other fruits are available!)
I’ve got to be honest; I drink a lot of water and I rarely drink it with anything added, I prefer it either straight out of the tap or when it has been sat around in my glass and aired. My top tip is to keep a glass by the kitchen sink and every time you pass by have a drink and top it up. If you’re at work, keep a glass on your desk and have a drink every time you have a stretch break (which you should be doing regularly). There are some great water bottles with hourly markings on so you can keep a track on how you are doing.
So how will you know if you’re dehydrated? Well, probably the first sign you’ll be aware of is feeling thirsty, and when you go to the loo your urine might be a dark colour. You may also feel lethargic or dizzy.
Checking the colour of your urine is an easy way to assess if you are hydrated, the colour you are aiming for is yellowish to amber. If your pee is very clear you may be drinking too much which can rob your body of essential electrolytes. The colour of your urine can also differ depending on meds you’re taking or what food you eat. I always remember going into an absolute panic because my urine was red – I thought I was internally bleeding until I remembered I’d eaten quite a lot of beetroot at lunch!!
Some people hold off on drinking because it makes them go to the toilet more. Yup, this will happen but it’s generally a good thing. Your body will release the water it does not need to hold on to but if you are ever worried that you are going to the toilet too much please speak to a medical professional.
And if you suffer from water retention it really is important that you drink more. It’s a strange fact but the better hydrated you are, the happier your body is to let go of the fluid it’s holding on to.
So, there you have it, why keeping hydrated is good for you. I hope you’ve found this informative (not too dry) and it hasn’t made you want to rush off to the loo!
Until the next time - keep well, keep safe and keep hydrated. Cheers!
If you’re interested, my research took me to the following sites: