You probably know you should drink more water but maybe you don't remember exactly why.
Hearing that "your life depends on it" is just vague enough for most of us to be able to ignore it.
So allow me to remind you of some of the relevant ways in which water is the elixir of life and how it is relevant to having a better back:
KEY POINTS ABOUT SPINAL HYDRATION
- The center of your intevertebral discs (called the nucelus pulposus) are 88% type II collagen water
- Reduction in disc hydration results in disc degeneration (a.k.a. Degenerative Disc Disease)
- Spinal discs are avascular and the disc cells depend on diffusion from blood vessels at the disc's margins to supply the essential nutrients. This process requires adequate hydration for optimal hydrostatic pressure
- If the nucleus pulposis (center) of your disc isn't well hydrated, additional pressures are placed on the more fibrous ring, which can lead to disc bulges and herniations
- Spinal disc hydration is facilitated both by exercise and rest
- This hydration of your bones and discs is key for shock absorbtion
- Lack of water increases your body's inflammatory response
- Lack of water also increases pain sensitivity
BENEFITS OF KEEPING HYDRATED
- New (very exciting!) research demonstrates that water forms a "spine of hydration" around your DNA (1)
- Aids digestion, metabolism and cell transport of nutrition
- Regulates body temperature through perspiration and respiration
- Lubricates your joints (yes, spinal joints too)
- Flushes out waste and toxins through urination
- Increases energy
- Improves skin complexion
- Helps internal organ function
- Maintains soft tissue (muscle and fascia) hydration and elasticity
- Improves brain and heart function
- You'll breathe easier and recover faster from exercise
"According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%." (2)
HOW MUCH WATER
This means that if you are an adult female, you should consume approximately 8.8 cups of water, while adult males should consume 12 cups(3).
If you're obese, exercising, pregnant, breastfeeding or taking medications, your water needs are even higher. Hot or humid conditions and altitude also have an effect on the amount of water your require.
Note to the overachievers out there: Don't guzzle gallons of water all at once because you can suffer from water intoxication. I know this for a fact because I've done it.
FIVE WAYS TO UP YOUR HYDRATION GAME
1. Choose a favorite thermos or mug. Sometimes water just tastes better out of a particular vessel. No joke!
2. Herbal teas will not only hydrate you but many of them contain adaptogenic properties which will support your body to be better at doing what it needs to do.
3. Make flavored water by adding lemon/lime/mint/cucumber. Keep a pitcher in the fridge or load up your favorite thermos.
4. Eat water-ful foods such as melon, cucumber, tomatoes, celery.
5. Limit dehydrating foods such as coffee and alcohol