Water – Essential for Your Health

Water – Essential for Your Health

pouring water

Spring is right around the corner. As the weather gets warmer we begin increasing our activity levels by jogging, golfing, gardening, and long walks. During these activities and day to day, I can say that drinking water is extremely important to be healthy. As a chiropractor, I’m always shocked to hear how much water the average person drinks. It’s usually not much. Some of the excuses I hear include, “It’s too cold out”, “I don’t like the taste”, or “I’m too busy”. I can’t stress enough the importance of water to live a healthy lifestyle.

Your body is estimated to be about 60 to 70 percent water. Blood is mostly water, and your muscles, lungs, and brain all contain significant amounts of water. Your body needs water to regulate body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to all of your organs. Water also transports oxygen to your cells, removes waste, and protects your joints and organs.

Over my years of practice I have heard this question from my patients many times: “Dr. Trevor, I used to be 6 feet tall and now I’m 5’10”. Why am I shrinking?” The first thing I ask is how much water is that person drinking daily. More often than not my patients tell me they only drink two or three 8 ounces glasses per day or they drink a lot of tea or other caffeinated beverages, juice, etc. One of the reasons they are shrinking is because of what is happening with their spine. In between each vertebrae of our spine is an intervertebral disc. Water is the main constituent in the disc, making up 65 to 90% of the tissue volume, depending on age and region of the disc. As we age the disc begins to dry up which can shorten the spine, and, hence inches are lost.

So, what is the proper amount of water intake per day? A good estimate is to take your body weight in pounds and divide that number in half. This gives you the number of ounces of water per day that you need to drink. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should drink at least 80 ounces of water per day. If you are exercising or drinking caffeine the intake needs to be more than just half your body weight as caffeine acts as a diuretic, increasing the amount of urine excreted by the body. In addition, if you are very active, you lose more water than if you are sedentary. If you exercise, you should drink another eight ounce glass of water for every 20 minutes you are active. If you drink alcohol or a caffeinated drink you should drink at least an equal amount of water.

Symptoms of mild dehydration include chronic pains in joints and muscles, lower back pain, headaches and constipation. Thirst is an obvious sign of dehydration, and in fact, you need water long before you feel thirsty.

Ensuring that our bodies get the necessary amount of water to function at its optimal level is vital to our health and well-being. It may be difficult to drink enough water on a busy day, but kick start your habit by making sure you have water handy at all times by keeping a bottle with you when you are working, traveling, or exercising. If you get bored with plain water, add a bit of lemon or lime for a touch of flavor. When you are properly hydrated, you will look, feel, and live the difference.