Proper hydration is one of the most essential aspects of maintaining good functionality of the joints and organs in the body. Many of the body’s essential nutrients are delivered through water. Some of our joints, such as the knees have no blood supply and rely solely on nutrients from water to maintain proper function. In the elderly, hydration is especially important because at their age their joints are already rather worn down.
The joints are supplied with nutrients through a substance called synovial fluid. This fluid fills the space between the bones and provides the cartilage tissue and joint with food. Synovial fluid is around 80% water which means that your joints do not receive a healthy flow of nutrients when you are dehydrated. Furthermore, this fluid enables cartilage to stay strong and healthy enough to provide smooth, strong cushioning between your bones and keep them from rubbing against one another. Overtime, the lack of hydration will lead to starving, unhealthy joints and ultimately lead to more rigid bones and/or afflictions like arthritis and osteoporosis.
Along with preserving your joints, water provides nutrients to your vital organs such as the brain. Dehydration by as little as 2-3% of your body weight can lead to serious light headedness, loss of balance, and fatigue. Many elderly experience troubles with balance or joints when they are older due to inadequate hydration over long-term periods in their life.
The amount of water one should intake varies from person to person and largely depends on your level of activity. Six to eight glasses a day has long been considered a good standard to shoot for but for those who are active it is recommended that you get substantially more. According to the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine, a healthy woman should get over 11 cups or 91 oz of water a day whereas a healthy man should get nearly 16 cups or 125 oz. of water a day, from all food and beverages. Certain foods carry more water than others. The best way to monitor your hydration is by paying attention to the color of your urine. Regardless of what you eat or how active you are, clear colored urine means you are properly hydrated whereas darker, gold urine means you are dehydrated.