Dehydration and Its Effect on Your Body
The human body is comprised of approximately 60% water; when you think about your body as a whole, you can appreciate the importance water has for every function. Water is responsible for keeping organs and body systems working efficiently; therefore, it is important to ensure you are drinking adequate amounts of water daily.
I know that, but why? That's a good question...
Your body loses water through day to day functioning, when you breathe, digest, sweat and menstruate. Physical activities, pregnancy or illness can also result in loss of water. Water maintains the health of cells, tissues and muscles and prevents things like dry eyes, nose and mouth. Numerous organs and their functions, which aren't necessarily obvious to you in regards to water levels, can be impacted significantly when water levels are insufficient.
The heart and brain reportedly have a water composition of approximately 73%, so these significant organs can suffer greatly when you are lacking water. For the brain, hydration is essential because it sends signals to the body for basic movements and processes. There are also studies that show pain levels may worsen when dehydrated. It is unclear why, but when the brain is dehydrated, your body may feel an increase of pain in the form of headaches, muscle pain and back pain to name a few. The skin is your largest organ and is made up of 64% water. Kidneys and muscles are approximately 79% water with bones having a water composition of approximately 31%.
Lower back pain and water:
Between each vertebra there are intervertebral discs; these discs can be described as soft jelly-like substances and they are composed of water. When you are dehydrated, these discs are not cushioning your movements as they should be and may cause, or contribute to pain in the lower, mid and upper back, as well as your neck.
Some common signs of dehydration:
- Darker coloured urine (medium yellow to brown)
- Little to no urine
- Muscle Cramps
- 'Brain Fog'
What can you do to stay hydrated?
It is all about lifestyle choices, foods we eat, particularly fruits and vegetables contain water and can aid in improving or maintaining hydration levels. Conversely, there are foods and drinks we consume that can contribute to dehydration such as, soft drinks, coffee, alcohol, fried foods, cured meats, salty and sugary snacks (including those food and drinks with artificial sweeteners).
- Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day
- If you don't like the taste of plain water, no worries! Try adding some lemon, lime or orange slices - one of my favourites is to add some fresh mint and a cinnamon stick
- Enjoy herbal teas
- Drink water before, during and after a workout
- When you feel hungry, drink water, often thirst is confused with hunger and true hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water
- Schedule your drinking - drink water upon waking, at meal times and when you go to bed. Perhaps drinking a small glass of water every waking hour could work for you
By Maharlia Kennedy
Remedial Massage Therapist
Dip Remedial Massage