Dehydration : Back & Joint Pain, & Depression
About 60 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. 40 million suffer from low back pain. One-half of all Americans endure at least one day of back pain each year, which interferes with their daily routine. It's quite likely that you know at least a half-dozen people who suffer from back or joint pain, every hour of the day or night. If so, I hope some of what I'm about to say will resonate with you; and through you, with them.
The Earth's surface is 70 percent water. Your body is about 67 percent water. And like the oceans, the salinity of your blood and lymph is approximately the same as sea water.
The average human body contains 10 to 13 gallons of water. Your blood is 83 percent water, muscles, brain, and heart 75 percent water, lungs 86 percent. kidneys 83 percent, eyes 95 percent, and bones just 22 percent.
If your body's water content drops by as little as 2 percent, you will feel fatigued. If it drops by 10 percent, you will experience significant health problems, such as arthritis and back pain.
Let's talk about back pain first. I want you to stand up now -- keep reading -- and put the fingers of your right hand on the ridge of bone in the back of your neck, just below your head. You with me? Now place the fingers of your left hand on the small of your back, about two inches up from your tailbone.
Your spinal column -- consisting of 24 vertebrae and 23 soft discs -- is found in the space between your fingers. Now you can sit back down again!
You've heard the word "vertebrae," and you've heard the word "discs," but you may not have a clear picture of what they look like.
Here's how I describe them. Open your mouth about an inch, and extend your tongue out so that the end of it sits just between your lips. Your slightly open jaw is the "Vertebra," and your soft tongue is the "disc."In that position, your tongue (disc) will prevent your teeth and jaw (vertebra) from coming in contact with each other.
Your spinal column has 24 of these mouth-like vertebrae facing away from your body, and 23 tongue-like discs between them.
AND HERE IS THE HEART OF THE DEHYDRATION PROBLEM THAT CAUSES BACK AND JOINT PAIN:
The discs are the shock-absorbers that keep your bones (vertebrae) from rubbing together. But the discs are UNABLE to do their job unless they are fully hydrated! The cushioning abilty of your discs is based on their water content. Imagine for a moment what you tongue might look like if it were completely dehydrated. It might feel like a piece of melba toast; thin, dry, and brittle.
That's EXACTLY what happens to the discs in your back when you don't drink enough water. And that's EXACTLY what happens to the cartilage in your joints, whose function -- shock absorption -- is virtually identical to that of the discs.
Let's say you lift your child up on your shoulders. Pressure is put upon the vertebrae, which move toward one another. But if your discs are fully hydrated, they absorb the pressure by squeezing out a little of their water. When you put the child down, a vacuum around the disc pulls water back into it.
If your discs are NOT fully hydrated, they are no longer soft and spongy. They shrink, become hard, and may even slip out of the "mouth" of the vertebra. Then your bones grind together, and the nerves at the back of the vertebra become pinched and painful. If you NEVER drink enough water, that nerve-and-bone pain becomes a chronic condition. Tens of millions of Americans are in exactly that position.
One more analogy: The oil in your car keeps metals in your engine from rubbing against one another. In your body, water keeps your cartilage strong, discs hydrated, and joints floating. If your car runs out of oil, it stops. When your body runs short of water, important parts of it come to a stop. That may sound overly simple, but it's a deep truth.
How much water do you need? Most of the experts recommend you drink at least one-half ounce of pure water for every pound you weigh. If you weigh 140 lbs, your minimum intake should be 70 oz of pure water a day. If you weigh 200 lbs, then your minimum is 100 oz, a bit over 3 qts.
I weigh 140 lbs, and I drink about a gallon of liquids a day: pure water and fresh juices. My body is well-hydrated, and I have no pains in my back or connective tissue.
You'll know your body is well-hydrated if the color and odor of your urine are neutral.
If it's summer, or you live in a warm climate, like I do, then you need to drink MORE than the minimum recommended amount of water.
Don't expect to fully rehydrate your body in a day or two. It will take weeks, perhaps months. And the older you are, the longer it takes.
You may say to me, "Owen, I never feel thirsty." My response is that chronically dehydrated people USUALLY feel no thirst. The long-time dehydration has deleted their thirst instinct. However, true thirst will return during the days and weeks that you rehydrate yourself.
WARNING: Alcohol, coffee, and most soft-drinks are DEHYDRATING liquids! If you feel hungover after a night of boozing, it's because your poor brain is severely dehydrated. The next time you pick up a can of beer or diet-soda, consider this: After you drink that liquid, your body will need the equivalent of THREE cans of water, to overcome the dehydration caused by the beer or soda-pop. You don't have to be a math major to see that's a losing proposition. People who suffer from arthritis, back, or joint pain should drink pure water and fresh juices ONLY -- at least until the pains and aches are gone.
A good night's sleep is very important for disc maintenance. At night, the soft inner pulp of the disc, absorbs water. You will be taller, first thing in the morning, because your discs are fully hydrated. By 10 p.m. even healthy discs are a tad thinner and less flexible.
One final thought: The five lowest vertebrae and discs -- a hand's width above the small of your back -- are slightly bigger than the vertebrae and discs above them. Why? Because 75 percent of your body's weight is supported by those lumbar vertebrae. When the discs in those five vertebrae become thin, brittle, and
hard, you're in for BIG trouble -- especially if you're overweight. Dehydrated discs also force your body to put extra pressure on your back muscles, and that causes more problems.
So if you don't want to be one of the 200,000 Americans who undergo disc surgery every year, start drinking LOTS of pure water. Try it for 3 months. At the end of that time, your bones and joints will probably feel much better than they do today. And you may find that other health problems, also caused by chronic
dehydration, have all but disappeared.
If you ARE successful at eliminating your aches and pains by rehydrating your body, spread the word amongst your friends and relatives.