Is water really THAT important?
I get this question more often than I would have ever believed. I didn’t realize just how many water-haters there are until I relocated down south. No offense folks, sweet tea is not water. I don’t blame you, its delicious! However, it is not a substitute. Nor is Coke, coffee, Gatorade or anything else that “has water in it.” Before you shun me and stop reading this article for my blasphemous claims against your sweet southern nectar, consider this: your health literally depends on it. Yes, you can live on sweet drinks or coffee. But you don’t understand the physical stress your body endures trying to function like this.
It’s really no secret that staying properly hydrated leads to optimal organ function, proper digestion, healthier skin and even helps maintain healthy weight, but you may not have been aware of what it does for your spine.
Spinal health isn’t on most people’s radar (unless they are in pain) but your spin is more than just the pillar that holds up your body, its also the foundation of your nervous system (your computer and circuit board). If your spine fails, your body crumbles both physically and physiologically. And it needs WATER!
Before you can have an understanding of why water and hydration play this vital role in the health of your spine, we must first understand its construction and how water is used.
Your spine is a column, made of block-like vertebra connected together with specific patterns of joints. Between these vertebrae is something called a “disc.” These hard, springy, pucks of connective tissue are designed to absorb the shock that your daily activities would have on the spine. If these discs weren’t there, your spine would calcify into a giant immobile rod.
The disc has two parts. The central part is called the nucleus (pulposis), is a jelly-like substance mainly comprised of, you guessed it, water! If you body is dehydrated, your body must pull water from certain tissues to use for other processes like detoxification (urination), and digestion. When this happens the discs can become deflated and cause improper cushioning or injury to the disc and the vertebrae. To further complicate this, as we age our discs don’t rehydrate as efficiently as when we were young. So the older we get the more water we need.
There are few constants in life. But one thing that is (nearly) unavoidable on this planet is gravity. From the moment we get out of bed gravity begins compressing our bodies. If you don’t believe me measure yourself the second you wake up and right before bed. You will lose some hydration from your discs anyway due to this process, but a sure-fire way to make it worse is not drink enough water throughout the day. Ultimately this will lead to acceleration of the degenerative process. Which, believe me, isn’t any fun.
Again, sodas, teas, and coffees are not water. Most of which actually are diuretic and steal water from the body. Plain, clear, water.
Absolutely hate the stuff? Try infusing it with citrus, or mint and cucumber, or any of your other favorite fruits. Avoid the artificial sweeteners and other syrupy junk. How much water? General rule of thumb is take your weight in pounds, divide it in half, and that’s how many ounces you should drink daily.
However you can get it down, drink up. Your body will thank you.
As always, be well
Dr. W.C. Verch runs Carolina West Clinic of Chiropractic, 1112 Calhoun Street, Newberry, you can reach him at 803-597-5099.