I want to make it clear; Nutrition is something I am not qualified in, so I must be cautious when I give advice. However, there are some fundamentals relating to our diets that are too important to ignore and I must share with my valued clients who may not think much about their health. I do recommend you consult a nutrition professional whenever considering dietary advice.

During my sessions we may discuss diet, and I may mention something that sparks your interest. It constantly amazes me that more people dont make the connection between their diets and their health, so I will use this section of my site to add more detail to what I have said.

Jef Cockerill Dip RM ARM & ATMS
Remedial Massage Therapist

Modern diets are low in vitamins and minerals, substances that are critical to good health. The only method of delivery for these vital substances is via our diets.

Even if you do eat the required servings of FRUIT (2 serves) and VEGETABLES (5 serves) every day, it is likely to be lower than optimum amounts of vitamins and minerals. This is due to;

  • Our nutrient deficient and over farmed soil in Australia. We have lacked volcanic activity in this region for a couple of thousand years and important trace minerals in the soils are thinning out. (Ever wonder why the fruit and veg you see in the Mediterranean is so lush and healthy? Its not the Med diet that’s the secret, its the healthy volcanic Med soil!)
  • Produce being picked before natural ripening, so that it can ripen whilst in its box in transit to the seller.
  • Produce being irradiated or processed to prolong shelf life.
  • A lack of variety (of fruit & vegetables) in the diet.
  • Possibly discarding the most nutritious parts of the fruit such as the skin, or the fibre (such as in most juicing).
  • Other factors. Check out this article in Time Magazine.

So regardless of your intake, it is important to add to your diet a good bio-available food supplement.

I believe synthetic vitamin supplements (multi vitamins you buy in shops), are difficult for your body to recognise as usable food. Some good may be extracted, but I fear the bulk goes down the loo. Your liver and intestines are designed to disseminate whole food, not concentrated individual components of food.

We all have our own impression of what is a ‘good diet’. Heres my essential basic guide;

  1. READ LABELS; If its in a packet and has additives (things with numbers after it, like Preservative, Food Colour, Thickener, Enhancer, etc) you should either avoid it totally or minimise your intake. If it doesnt say whats in it, dont trust it. The less human interference the better. Don’t be misled by marketing on packets. The use of “organic” on labels is still being abused as to its true intention. Still read the ingredients on the label!
  2. Drink plenty of WATER.
  3. Find a good butcher. Organic if you can. Standard meat is not only subject to additives the animal is fed, but also irradiation methods to prolong shelf life and addition of chemicals to make it look fresher in the butcher window.
  4. If it does not rot, dont eat it. Embrace enzymes. Essentially; if its not good enough for airborne bacteria, why are you eating it?
  5. Minimise wheat and dairy from your diet. These are foods that will irritate your gut and provoke immune responses, even in individuals that don’t realise they are sensitive to it. Irrititable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is epidemic amongst many of my clients, and amazingly many of their symptom are relieved by the elimination of wheat and dairy.
  6. Eat plenty of super foods that are high in antioxidents. Blueberrys, Goji Berrys, prunes, beetroot, etc. Google super foods. Be wary of sites with a vested interest!
  7. Fats – Avoid margarine and butter imitations like the plague. Only use cold pressed virgin olive oil in salad dressings. Avoid deep fried food as much as possible. If you love fried chicken, chips, or anything that has been deep fried, and eat it often; you will be sick. Your cell membranes are made of lipids (fats) and it is vital they are made of quality fats to function properly. Everything that happens in your body relies of cell membrane permiability, if this is obstructed or inhibited you cannot function at optimal.
  8. Sleep – You must be able to sleep well, for a decent amont of time, and be regular with your hours. Avoid light and noise in your bedroom. TV is a no no.
  9. Exercise – Be moderate. Allow time to recover. Daily bashing yourself may be good for the cardiovascular, but can be shocking for the joint tissues and muscles if you do not allow time for yout tissues to adapt and repair. Scar tissue will build on scar tissue and not form normal healthy stong links.
In my opinion water is NUMBER ONE in importance for general soft tissue and joint health. Years of experience in feeling client’s muscles and talking to them about their nutritional habits, as well as my own experience with my own issues and habits, have lead me to make a clear connection between the dehydration of individuals and the feel of their muscles, their pain levels, and their health issues.

Finding concise research on the relationship between chronic (long term) dehydration and general pain/health syndroms is near impossible. Perhaps it is too simple, or perhaps no one pursues research because there is little profit to be made (and much profit to be lost, no doubt, once people realise its benefits).

There is a book called “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” by Dr Batmanhelidj. It simply lays out the many benefits of water, and the harm associated with chronic dehydration. Im so glad i read this book about 10 years ago, as it made a lot of stuff fall into place. You can click on a link on his site to listen to an interview with Dr B. Worth the download.

It is my belief that, originally, we came from single cell organisms floating in sea water.

These single cells had easy access to the substances (nutrients/oxygen) needed to function, as all there was between the inside of the cell and the outer mass of sea water carrying those substances was a cell membrane. The cell membrane is the barrier that nutrients, etc, must cross to get into the cells, and waste must cross to get out of the cell. This is a basic fact; cells need nutrients and 0² to create metabolic reactions, as well as a means to remove waste from those reactions.

As we evolved to two cells then four, eight, sixteen, etc, becoming a more complex organism, the deeper cells had less access to the surrounding water (which carried the nutrients required for those cells to function).

To cut a really long and complicated story short; in the millions of years of evolution, transfer mechanisms for that water to get to the deeper cells sorted themselves out to eventually become what we now know of as the cardio-vascular system. That is; a series of pipes called veins, arteries and capillaries, that act as vessels to carry a nutrient transporting substance called blood, with a pumping mechanism called a heart, and an oxygen collecting/CO2 removing mechanism called lungs.

The method of delivery has changed, but the original need for each cell to be supplied their nutrients, and have adequate waste removal, remains the same.

The Plasma content of blood (the fluid part, or water part, as opposed to the solids part) is reported to be about 55% in a ‘normal’ individual. Even if there was a definitive ‘normal’ measurement, it would be based on the average of the current population, which is a poor base for a statistic, as most people are likely chronically dehydrated. I imagine if there was a even a mild lack of fluid available in the body, the blood would become thicker, or more viscous, slowing its ability to flow and making the heart work harder. Could this be related to High Blood Pressure, I hear you ask?

I often think about the use of Aspirin to ‘thin the blood’. This implies that keeping the blood thin is important? Hmmm…. maybe so it can move around more efficiently, so that O2 and nutrients can do their stuff. Isn’t this what water in the blood does? If your blood is thick it moves slower, denying efficient delivery to, and elimination from, cells.

I have a client who I felt was dehydrated when he first came to me. He had no idea this was the case. After talking to him about water (which he never drank) he told me that when he gave blood it took ages to get any blood out. The nurses told him he had thick blood so it didn’t flow well. After increasing his water intake, the problem of slow flow when he gave blood stopped. He gave the full measure, quick as can be for the first time in 30 years, and the only thing he did was increase his water intake.

Modern day marketing for medicine, pharmaceuticals and vitamin companies has led us all to focus on solids within blood (ie, iron, vitamins, medications, etc, etc) as the sole regulators of what happens in the body, and this certainly is true, but if the means of transporting those solids is hindered or lacking, and the main focus is on the ‘deemed to be lacking’ solid, then perhaps we are missing a pretty important point.

All tissues, organs, muscles and joints require water/blood to function. If there is a deficit, the body has to make decisions about what area(s) gets priority. Just like if you are living to a tight budget, you only spend on the absolute essentials.

Without question the top priority is the brain (The brain usually has about 20% of your total blood volume inside it at any given time). Next I guess would be the heart. After that it would depend on each individual as to what organ is next in line for water priority (eyes maybe?), but I would be pretty certain that way down at the bottom of the list would be muscles, joints, bones, skin, and hair.

This leads me to why chronic dehydration is such an issue in my line of work, and in your health; Long term depleted hydration to areas of the body causes the body to make changes to adapt. One example is degenerative changes to joints, particularly joints under stress, as the bodys normal repair mechanisms are impeded by slow nutrient transport. I dont think Osteo Arthritis is something that just decides to happen. It is a sign of Dis-Ease of the body.

Another thing I see often in chronically dehydrated people is cracked heels. This is a one visual sign of what is probably a bigger issue throughout that persons body.

Dr Batmanhelidj also explains how the effects of dehydration could lead to High Blood Pressure, High Colesterol, Heart Disease, and even Depression. For a further understanding I suggest you get his book or visit his website.

So how do we get chronically dehydrated, when animals in the wild don’t have to drink 8 glasses of water a day?

It’s not hard when you consider the following;

Animals don’t work in air conditioning

Air Con sucks moisture out of the air and out of YOU. We have air con in our offices, the shops we go to, our cars, and our homes.

Animals don’t drink coffee, tea, coke, red bulls, or alcohol

All of which are diuretics that make you pee out more fluid than you consume with the product.

Animals don’t smoke or consume artificial chemicals or pharmaceuticals that play around with histamine regulation in the body

Histamine is the water regulator of the body, and tells us when there is a problem due to lack of hydration in an area of the body. Why are we constantly prescribed “anti- histamines” then? A lot of medications will have a diuretic effect when trying to treat something caused by dehydration in the first place. Work that out! Also, smoking like many other chemicals in products irritates our immune system which burns off water.

Animals stress levels generally are intermittent

(like if there is a predator near by) unlike ours which can at times be constant.
The stress response includes release of hormones that tense the nervous system and muscles and will metabolise more water. Most people in modern society have a degree of constant stress (whether they know it or not), be it job related, mortgage related, relationship related, screaming children related, noisy neighbour related, George Bush related, etc, etc. Also illness or allergy sufferers will burn more H2O!

Animals don’t go to the gym for an hour a day, or exercise excessively on top of all the things mentioned above

Some of the most dehydrated people I massage are exercise junkies. This is not to say exercise is a bad thing of course.

Now give yourself a point for each 500ml of water you have a day…

  • Take off one point for each diuretic drink you have per day.
  • Take off another two points for working in air conditioning or near a heater.
  • Take off one point for each half hour of moderate exercise you do in a day.
  • Take off one point if you smoke or take a medication. Two points off if you do a lot of either.
  • Take off one point if there is some stress in your day.
  • Take off a point if you are unwell or have an allergy.

Are you still in positive figures? This is just a rough guide to put hydration in perspective. I think you should be around 4 points at the end of the day. That’s two litres clear profit, after deductions.

If you don’t drink enough water, I don’t recommend you just rush out and start drinking copious amounts. It needs to be done gradually, but consistantly for the body to adapt. Also remember that your bladder would have adapted to the low water intake you may have had, so it will not cope with too much too soon.

Dr B also talks about the need for increasing salt alongside increasing water in his articles as a means of maintaining the sodium ratio in the body. If your going to use salt make sure its a good quality rock or sea salt.

Remember, I’m not a medical practitioner. The information here is not meant to replace anything your doctor or other medical person has told you or prescribed to you. I only encourage all readers to do their own research and make their own informed decisions.