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Hydration and Joint Health

Updated: Apr 26

If you read my blog last week you learned that 75% of Canadians are chronically dehydrated, leading to a host of common issues like headaches, fatigue and brain fog. Did you also know that chronic dehydration affects your joint and spinal health-  leading to increased pain and inflammation in your hips, knees and back.

“As we age, we become chronically dehydrated. This dehydration causes a lot of pain and inflammation. The fluid in our knees, hips, and other joints goes in and out of somewhat spongy cartilages, acting as shock absorbers and lubricators and providing nutrients.

Seventy-five percent of the weight of the upper part of the body is supported by the water volume stored in the disc core, while 25 percent is supported by the fibrous materials around the disc.Dehydration affects especially the intervertebral discs and their joints. Dehydration affects the fifth lumbar disc (or L5) 95% of the time” 

Here’s how hydration plays a crucial role in joint health: 

  1. Lubrication: Joints are cushioned by synovial fluid, which acts as a lubricant, reducing friction between bones during movement. Proper hydration ensures an adequate production and maintenance of synovial fluid, keeping joints well-lubricated and facilitating smooth movement.

  2. Shock absorption: Cartilage, a connective tissue that covers the ends of bones, absorbs shock and provides a smooth surface for joint movement. Cartilage is made up of about 80% water, so adequate hydration is essential for maintaining its structure and function. Dehydration can compromise the integrity of cartilage, leading to increased friction and wear on joints.

  3. Nutrient transport: Hydration is necessary for the transportation of nutrients to the cartilage and other joint structures. Water helps deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to the cells within the joints, promoting their health and repair processes.

  4. Waste removal: Proper hydration supports the removal of metabolic waste products from joint tissues. This helps prevent the accumulation of toxins and ensures the overall health of the joint environment.

  5. Inflammation control: Dehydration can contribute to inflammation in the body, including in the joints. Chronic inflammation can damage joint tissues and exacerbate conditions like arthritis. Staying hydrated helps maintain a proper balance of bodily fluids and may help reduce inflammation.

Here are a few more interesting hydration facts:

The average Canadian drinks just 3.5 cups of water a day or less than 1 litre of water!

The top 3 beverages of choice of Canadians are:

Coffee – no surprise

Soda pop

Alcoholic beverages

All of these beverages are diuretics which means they increase urine output = more water loss.

So even if you’re drinking more than the average Canadian, consider your other beverages of choice throughout the day. If you consume coffee, pop or alcohol you actually  need to increase your average daily water requirements.

** Reminder your weight in pounds x 0.67 = # of ounces you need to drink a day just to maintain optimal hydration -- not taking in to account other beverages you drink a day, or your level of physical activity and sweat loss.

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