Water Helps Combat Pain.
Water is essential for life as dehydration is one of the greatest stresses to the body and a forerunner to many pain syndromes and acute and chronic illnesses. Metabolism which is the bio-chemical processes of the body requires a plentiful supply of water for optimal function. Without a plentiful supply of water, the body runs inefficiently and creates a toxic environment.
The composition of the body is approximately 75% water.
Percentage water composition by body parts:
• Brain 85%
• Lungs 80%
• Liver 73%
• Skin 71%
• Heart 77%
• Kidneys 80%
• Muscles 73%
• Blood 79%
• Bone 22%
• Teeth 10%
The body’s demand for water is determined by environmental temperature, humidity and the degree to which you lose water as a result of exercise. On average the body requires about six to eight glasses that is two to two and a half litre of water a day . Thirst is a late sign of dehydration and at this point the body is under stress and consequently is not able to function efficiently. The colour of ones urine should be clear or straw coloured. The intensity of the yellow is a good indicator of the level of dehydration. Best practice is to hydrate the body in measured amounts over the day and not to rely on thirst as an indicator. It is also important to note that whole foods which were designed for the human body; ripe fruits and fresh vegetables contain a high percentage of water, which helps hydrate the body. Processed foods are generally stripped of their water, along with their nutrients, and causes dehydration due to the high levels of processed salt, sugar and man-made carbohydrates that they contain.
When the body is dehydrated the brain can receive a hunger signal instead of one for thirst. This is because as the human brain, nervous system and body was evolving, the body would get a high percentage of it’s water from the foods we ate, since fresh water would at times be difficult to come by. Fast forward to present day living where the standard UK diet is highly processed and devoid of water, then these hunger signals contribute to even further dehydration and the added consequence of weight gain and obesity.
Increasing evidence indicates that even mild dehydration plays a role in the development of many diseases and pain syndromes. When you understand just how crucial water is to life this starts to make sense.
The body has a hierarchy of needs for water. The brain, and the vital organs get priority. This would make sense as these organ systems ensure survival of the organism. The bones, the muscles and connective tissue (comprising our joints) and the skin are lower in prority and dehydrate very quickly. The majority of our sensory receptors which include our pain receptors are located in all of these tissues. In a dehydrated state there is an increase in toxic substances which stimulate the pain receptors, and thus lead to acute and chronic pain states, particularly of the muscle and skeletal system.
The intervertebral discs are a major part of the muscle and skeletal system. They act as shock absorbers for the spine and are composed of a fibrous outer layer and a gel nucleus. They require an abundance of water as they support the weight of the body by hydraulic pressure. Approximately 75% of body weight is supported by the nucleus of the disc. If the body is dehydrated, and because the disc is low on the hierarchical scale for water, it quickly dries and fails to support body weight adequately. This leads to drying of the discs and the supporting muscles and connective tissue. If this drought state persists the movement pattern of the discs and other joints become faulty, leading to weakness, stiffness and hypersensitivity of the pain receptors. Persistent chronic dehydration leads to degenerative changes to the discs and joints and physiological changes occur to the muscles and connective tissue.
There is no substitute for water. Caffein drinks are diuretics and make us lose more water than we take in. Sugared drinks reduce the availability of the water between the cells, as when glucose (sugar) is taken up by the cells water follows. Artificially sweetened water poses a serious risk to the body’ as the artificial sweeteners metabolise into compounds that are known to be toxic and can cause neurological damage leading to chronic fatigue states, seizures and brain tumours, to mention but a few.
Water is essential in reducing risk of all illnesses including diabetes, allergies, pain syndromes, inflammatory and degenerative diseases. For a more comprehensive understanding of the therapeutic and physiological effects of water see Dr. F Batmanghelidj book Your Body’s Many Cries For Water.
As a footnote – be aware that too much water is also detrimental to health, as it can lead to hyponatremia (lowered sodium levels), a condition whereby your cells swell due to an increase in water. This is particularly dangerous if it affects the brain cells. It is therefore important to regulate your sodium intake and a dab of rock salt or sea salt on the tongue can be beneficial. It is important however if you are suffering with high blood pressure and on a low salt diet to discuss this with your medical doctor first.
The best way to monitor your level of hydration is to monitor the colour of your urine and then drink water accordingly.