Water is perhaps the single most important compound for the human body — and for the body of every living creature. The many systems that keep us alive and thriving require adequate hydration, and those include our bones.
Today we'll look at the importance of hydration for bone health, and analyze a study that sought to create a beverage hydration index to help us compare the hydrating power of different drinks. Then we’ll apply that knowledge to good use with a recipe for a bone-hydrating electrolyte beverage!
How Dehydration Affects Your Bones
A wide body of scientific literature has established that dehydration of bone causes loss of elasticity, makes bones easier to fracture, and that hydration impacts the mechanical properties of bone. One scholarly publication described it this way:
“Early studies demonstrated that the stiffness, tensile strength, and hardness increases, whereas the strain at fracture and energy to fracture decreases, following the dehydration of bone tissues.”1
Researchers investigating those changes in bone hypothesized that water's interaction with both the collagen (organic) and mineral (inorganic) parts of bone contributes to these known effects. They tested this supposition by examining the impacts of water loss on the strength, toughness, and stiffness of bone.
In the end, they found that dehydration had significant effects on all three metrics mentioned above.1
Your spine is particularly dependent on hydration, since not only do vertebrae need water to maintain their strength, but the discs between your vertebrae actually require water. They're like little shock absorbers that protect your vertebrae and make your spine flexible. If the discs become dehydrated, they don't function as well, causing stiffness, back pain, or potentially serious injury.2
Dehydration has a negative impact on both the organic and inorganic components of bone. The impact on bone strength, toughness, and stiffness makes bones more susceptible to fracture.
Not All Beverages Hydrate Equally
A group of scientists published a study in 2015 establishing a beverage hydration index by testing the effect of 13 different commonly consumed drinks on urine output and fluid balance.3
Their results show that plain water wasn't the most effective beverage for retaining hydration. Drinks such as tea, orange juice, and even milk did a better job of staying in participants' systems. (It's worth noting that while milk may be capable of providing hydration, it's still bad for your bones.) The study authors aren't recommending that anyone replace water, but their findings show that there are optimal conditions for achieving hydration.3
Simply drinking large quantities of water isn't the best way to stay hydrated. In fact, chugging a gallon of pure H2O might not result in adequate hydration at all. When you consume a large amount of water all at once, it can run right through you without getting absorbed for use by your body. That's why the study didn't find plain water to be the most hydrating beverage.
Sipping water over the course of the day, and drinking water along with nutrients (like those in a piece of fruit) accomplishes deeper hydration.
The Save Institute recommends that you sip distilled water (or as a second choice, water purified through reverse osmosis) with a few drops of fresh lemon juice throughout the day. Alkalizing lemon juice carries a negative charge that binds to acidic waste in the body and flushes it out through the urine. It also contains antioxidant Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is essential for producing collagen for the bone matrix. Sipping, as opposed to gulping, helps your body retain water and won’t overload your kidneys.
Why distilled water? Distillation eliminates all water impurities, which leaves you with clean fresh-tasting water. Water from other sources (spring water, tap water) may contain undesirable inorganic minerals, pathogens, or chemicals. Tap water in many municipalities, for example, contains added fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral that disrupts the bone remodelling process resulting in a reduction in bone quality. An excellent second choice after distilled water is reverse osmosis (RO) purified water. It requires an RO system that needs regular maintenance but produces clean, pure water.
A general rule of thumb is to aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces per day. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water per day. But remember that this equation is just a guideline. Feel free to vary your water intake 20 percent in either direction, depending on your activity level. If you are highly active, you may need a higher intake of H2O.
Guzzling water isn't the best way to stay hydrated. Studies of the hydrating efficacy of different beverages indicate that nutrients encourage the body to absorb water. Spreading out water intake also helps the body to make the most of the water you drink. Drink half your body weight in ounces of distilled water with a few drops of lemon juice slowly over the course of the day.
Water Is A Whole-Body Helper
Here are a few other major reasons you should endeavor to stay hydrated:
- Dehydration has a negative impact on mood and cognitive function (impacting reaction time, decision making, clarity-of-thought, and emotional life)4
- Dehydration impairs both aerobic and anaerobic exercise performance (preventing you from getting the full benefits of exercise)5
- Water helps your body to flush toxins6
- Water helps to prevent headaches6
- Water keeps your digestive tract functioning smoothly6
A Hydrating Beverage Recipe
This recipe for an electrolyte beverage is designed to effectively and efficiently hydrate your body (it's also quite tasty!):
Watermelon Electrolyte Drink
- 1 cup of cubed watermelon*
- 1 cup of coconut water
- lemon juice (to taste)
- Dash of sea salt
- Place all ingredients in a blender and whirl until smooth.
What This Means To You
Water is easy to take for granted, so it requires intentionality to develop healthy hydration habits. The benefits of good hydration are enormous (and the risks of dehydration are equally significant) for your bones and your whole body.
Paying extra attention to how much water you drink, along with the type of water you drink, are important components of maintaining healthy bones. It's also part of the Save Institute's seven-day bone-building accelerator, the Osteoporosis Fresh Start Cleanse. Use it to catch up on lost time, boost your rate of progress, or just to give your body and bones a break from the stresses and toxins of modern life.
Accelerated Bone Remodeling In Just 7 Days!
Discover how the Osteoporosis Fresh Start Cleanse can flush osteoporosis drugs and other bone-damaging toxins from your system – in just seven days.
Comments on this article are closed.
I did have a reverse osmosis water system but in the end we took it out. Changing the filers was a nightmare. (also many times we have a flood) I then used a water filter in a jug but have stopped that as of 6 months ago and each filter is made of plastic. So this is just extra plastic waste going into the world.
I have now resigned myself to drinking water from the tap. We do not have fluoride added to our water.
I will now add the lemon and great tip about drinking slowly as I drink a whole pint of water every morning in one go. So will now drink it over an 1 hour period.
I bought your book save our bones many years ago and use it regularly. I love this new blog every day and have gleaned lots of helpful extra facts.
I have an ileostomy & 1.8 metres of small bowel. Hydration is an issue & addressed by limiting oral fluids to 11/ liters per day & IV feed. I appreciate that this is a specialist area & complex, but I would appreciate any comment/advice on a natural approach to support the conventional medical care, that you are able to give. Regretfully, I am unable to follow your osteoporosis reversal programme, but value your articles. They give me the strength to refuse my consultant’s pressure to have the chemical treatment that he advises, although I possibly but myself at risk.
My dentist says I must *NOT* add lemon juice to my water — not even “just a few drops.” He says if I do that throughout the day, I can hurt my enamel. And once that’s gone, it’s gone. Just fyi. Your dentist may disagree. Other than that, I *love* all the help Vivian gives us here on this site! Thank you, Vivian! — Suzy
Do even the organic black & green teas have fluoride? Also—when a dentist advises you to use a toothpaste with more fluoride—to prevent cavities—what are the alternatives?
I put 2T of apple cider vinegar with the mother, of course, into every 32-ounce container of water I drink. I drink at least one container a day. I weigh 105 pounds. I’m using filtered water from an above-the-sink water filter. I’m sure I can’t afford an RO system and don’t want to start buying and bringing distilled water into my house. Have no room for a water distiller that my friend has. But the ACV, am I getting the same or similar benefit as lemon juice?
Ah, RO system for kitchen faucet only. That’s quite affordable. Is that as good as distilled water?
I heard that drinking too much water can deplete your minerals?
What about drinking bottled alkaline water with the alkaline PH? Is that as good as distilled, or reverse Osmosis?
I also have a question on HIMALAYAN SALT. A pain management person told me it helps retain water, which seems to run right through me. I’ve just tried it and the first day noticed my stiff neck loosened up somewhat.
I checked online and there were many benefits and helpful minerals, but one thing I found said it contained heavy metals and was to be avoided. Also diabetics and those with high blood pressure should not take it. I’m free of those two problems but I know people shouldn’t have heavy metals, so what is your comment Vivian?
What about drinking distilled water and hymalayan salt throughout the day?
I have noticed a MASSIVE improvement to my outer compartment on the shins as I was struggling to walk with pain as I work and walk a lot. My sleep has also improved.
I have started doing a water fast with this too. Only on the second day but feel ok
I see you mention tea as a more hydrating beverage than water, but tea (green tea, at least) also contains a lot of fluoride, so I’ve been told. What’s the trade-off for bone health in that case?
would the lack of water would it cause you to be dizzy and loose your balance bea