Water for Osteoarthritis

Can water really help arthritis?
Can water really help arthritis?
I know what you’re probably thinking. You’re thinking that here’s someone else telling you to drink water. Even though some ‘experts’ have said you didn’t need to. And you’re right, that is what I’m saying. And maybe you shouldn’t listen to every ‘expert’ out there. After all, each study is just one research point. That’s why it drives me nuts to hear on the news about this or that study. One study does not mean anything. In fact, one flawed study is why we’ve been told for fifty plus years that we should not eat fat.

The reality is that most of us are likely dehydrated. I’ve even seen it suggested that high blood pressure is really a symptom of dehydration.

Here’s how water relates to arthritis: Cartilage is the cushioning your body provides between 2 bones. It keeps your parts moving smoothly without rubbing the bones together. You’ve likely seen cartilage if you’ve ever noticed the gristle on the end of a chicken drumstick. Cartilage is a gelatinous matrix of proteins and sugars. And get this – the principle role of cartilage is to hold water! Specifically synovial fluid which is made up of albumin, fat, mineral salts, hyaluronic acid, and water. In fact, if your cartilage is healthy, it is 65-85% water.

Not drinking enough water is one way to starve your cartilage. The other way is not exercising. With osteoarthritis, cartilage becomes dry and brittle. And the cause? There are many, including lack of nutrients and lack of exercise. And, of course, cartilage is dry because of lack of water.

People often don’t want to drink more water because of the need to urinate more frequently. I once worked with someone that went on a specific diet. She was told to drink 8 glasses of water a day. She chose to drink them all after work so she wouldn’t have to leave her desk during the day. Of course, she then had to get up several times in the night.

Suggestions for Water Consumption

  • How much? The usual recommendation is one-half your body weight, in ounces, per day. If you weight 120 pounds, then you should drink 60 ounces per day. Start slow and build up to drinking more.
  • How often? Spread it out throughout your day.
  • What kind? We have a Berkey filter for our drinking water. It removes many things including the chlorine and fluoride that the city adds to our water.
  • Can I add anything to my water? You can add lemon or lime to your water. Or even an herbal tea. As long as you’re not adding sweetener – whether real or not.
  • Does coffee (or tea or soda) count? The short answer is no. When you drink coffee (or tea or soda), your body has to use water to process the caffeine, etc. So it’s not the same as drinking water. I’ve heard some go so far as suggesting that you need to drink water along with your coffee to give your body the water it needs.
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