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Water and your Health by Deme Barlas
February 3, 2023

There are three areas to focus on with water and benefits to your body
1. Physical performance and mental health
2. Overall digestion and care
3. Pain management

As winter months are approaching and snow is accumulating, staying hydrated is particularly important. You do not need to be an athlete to reap the benefits of being hydrated. Staying hydrated can help your physical performance. Muscle tissue consists roughly about 75 percent water, which helps to form protein in the muscles, stabilizing and protecting joints. Dehydration can reduce muscle tone by preventing muscles from contracting. Neglecting water intake can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, and increased fatigue. It can also make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally.

Your brain is strongly influenced by your hydration status. Studies show that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 1–3% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function. Many other studies, with subjects ranging from children to older adults, have shown that mild dehydration can impair mood, memory, and brain performance.

Digestion is also important. Drinking water with your meal helps your body break down food and may help decrease constipation. Mineral water may be a particularly beneficial beverage for those with constipation. Mineral water that’s rich in magnesium and sodium improves bowel movement frequency and consistency in people with constipation. In general, for healthy, average people, 8 cups a day is a good goal. People with some medical conditions may need to drink less than that. Others may need more than 8 cups a day. Talk to your doctor about how much water is good for you.

The final if not the most important, at least by my standards being a massage therapist, is pain management. A lot of what I see on a daily basis can be prevented by regular movement, therapy, and hydration. Elimination of pain requires finding the underlying cause for the pain which takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.

Hydration is one aspect to look at. Our joints have cartilage which is made up of 60% water. This cartilage acts like a cushion or a shock absorber and reduces the friction between the bones in the joint. There is also a gel-like fluid called synovial fluid which keeps the cartilage lubricated. When there is scarcity of water in the body, cartilage loses its sponginess. Drinking more water may not treat the joint pain but it can keep your joints healthy.

Proper hydration can improve the production of synovial fluid, reduce the inflammation, and maintain the shock absorbing properties of cartilage. Health experts recommend that a diet rich in antioxidants as well as staying hydrated with enough water are great ways to reduce inflammation in the body. Water is specifically recommended because it can flush toxins and other irritants out of the body. This decreases the prostaglandin and histamine response, which is associated with an inflammatory reaction. Water helps build muscle to further protect the joints. While water intake can influence many areas of your health, if you are suffering from chronic pain, please reach out to a health care professional for specific advice as this article is for general information.

Deme Barlas RMT
Warren Massage Therapy

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