5 Reasons Why Our Brain Needs Water
We all know drinking water is good for our health. The benefits towards weight loss, heart health, and digestive issues are raised repeatedly. But how often do we think about water’s impact on our brain?
Water has a significant impact on how our brain functions on a day-to-day basis. While our body, on average, is 60% water, our brain is made up of 73% water. It’s necessary to ensure our cells are able to perform vital tasks, making hydration an essential component for optimal brain functionality. But we also lose a lot of water every day. In addition to burning water performing simple bodily functions such as breathing, water also helps flush out toxins through sweating and other bodily waste.
Maintaining this balance is what makes hydration so important. We need to replenish our body’s reserve in order to ensure our body and brain can function at its highest levels.
What happens when the brain doesn’t get enough water
Dehydration occurs when our water intake is less than the water our body uses to complete our daily tasks. When we’re dehydrated, it impacts all of our body but our brain feels this impact the most. In addition to not having the proper resources for optimal performance, the brain also suffers from the damage dehydration does to other vital organs as well.
The brain relies on healthy organs and when areas like our digestive tract, heart, or respiratory systems are damaged, this can impact how the brain performs. Studies have shown that even as little as 1% dehydration can lead to 5% cognitive dysfunction. Knowing how important hydration is to our body and brain, here are five ways hydration can give you the boost our brains need.
Can give us an energy boost
When we hit a mid-morning slump, our instinct might be to reach for another cup of coffee. And while caffeine can give us a short-term boost, we’re likely to crash within short measure. That’s because coffee is a mild diuretic, meaning it makes us release liquid more frequently than we normally would. If we don’t replace that liquid with water, we can quickly start to feel not only the caffeine crash but the sluggish effects dehydration brings.
When we’re dehydrated, we may find ourselves struggling to stay awake and feeling like we don’t have the energy to complete simple work tasks. Instead, if we focus on drinking water steadily throughout the day, we can fight fatigue, brain fog, and other sleepy or sluggish slumps, getting through our day and having energy to do more of what we love at night.
Improved memory and focus
One of the areas most impacted by dehydration is memory and focus. Even mild dehydration can cause poor attention, the inability to focus, and impact both long and short term memory. It can also cause working memory lapses. High levels of dehydration can impact complex brain functions like problem-solving and decision making.
When we stay hydrated, however, we are able to counter these devastating side effects. We’ll notice marked improvement in our ability to concentrate for longer periods of time. We’ll also be more likely to transfer memories from short-term to long-term, making our study and work time more efficient and valuable in the long run.
Healthier bodily functions
Dehydration impacts multiple bodily functions. It can lead to constipation, sluggish blood circulation, and headaches. It can even affect our sleep patterns, even further exasperating the brain fog and fatigue side effects.
By staying hydrated we ensure our body is able to get rid of the toxins and cell debris we accumulate daily. As our blood flow improves, our brain is able to receive adequate oxygenation which helps improve our sleep and energy levels. In addition, we can avoid other negative effects such as headaches, digestion issues, and chronic fatigue by keeping our cells hydrated and flushed from toxic build-up.
Causes mood swings
Dehydration has a huge impact on our moods. Not only does it lead to an imbalance in our serotonin and dopamine hormones, being dehydrated makes it impossible for the brain to flush out any higher levels of cortisol. This can make us highly irritable, prone to mood swings, and unable to regulate anxiety or other negative emotional states.
When we hydrate, our brain is able to restore balance in these delicate hormones and flush out excess cortisol. This can calm our anxiety and help shift our mood. There’s also evidence that water helps maintain the temperature, not just in our body, but in our brain, which is vital in keeping these mood hormones in check.
Can help fight weight gain
Dehydration can often confuse the signals our body sends our brain. One result of this cross-messaging error happens in relation to dehydration with hunger, especially in the early stages. This confusion happens because both thirst and hunger are regulated in the hypothalamus. When we’re dehydrated, our brain can easily mistake which process our body is asking for, meaning we grab a snack instead of that glass of water.
One way to counter this is to drink a glass of water before eating. If the urge to snack goes away, we saved ourselves some unnecessary calories. And if it doesn’t, drinking water before we eat reduces the overall amount of food we eat, helping us manage our weight.
What does hydration look like?
The effects of dehydration can be extremely disruptive to our lives. The good news is dehydration is countered quite easily by rehydrating adequately.
So, how much water is the right amount of water we should be drinking every day? The answer varies and it’s up to each individual to factor in things like activity levels, lifestyle, and climate to properly assess our hydration needs. However, there are a few general guidelines to help get us started.
According to Mayo Clinic, the recommended daily fluid intake is around 3.7 liters for men (about 16 cups) and 2.7 liters for women (about 12 cups). This means on average, we should be drinking 2-3 cups of water per hour; more if we’re engaged in strenuous physical activities.
We can also learn which foods can help keep us hydrated. Many fruits and vegetables contain high water levels, so we can ensure that even with smart snacking, our hydration levels are always maintained.
In addition, forming water-smart habits can help us stay hydrated, especially in the heat of the summer. Always carrying a water bottle and setting reminders on our phones means we always have water within reach and never forget to take a drink, even if we’re focused and engaged on other tasks.
Water is vitally important for the health of our bodies and brains. Yet, staying hydrated on a daily routine can be challenging for many of us. Active lifestyles and busy work schedules can make steady water intake difficult. However, with smart water habits, we can overcome these daily obstacles.
By understanding the importance of hydration, we can make it a priority in our day-to-day lives, ensuring our bodies are healthy and our brains are happy.