Drink More Water – Your Brain Needs It
The average human body is 60% water, and it is the most important component in a plethora of your bodily functions. Now, we all know this. But do we know our brain is just as much dependent on water for its optimal functioning?
Our body needs water for a multitude of functions like carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells, lubricating joints, protecting organs, digesting and dissolving food, carrying out waste and many more. It’s not hard to see why the doctors always insist on staying hydrated for a healthy body.
But water is equally important for a healthy mind as well, because many of these functions are directly related to our brains. Dehydration can cause mild to severe psychological and cognitive problems, and is a hindrance to optimal brain functioning.
What does dehydration do to your brain?
Ever felt your head swimming or felt disoriented after an intense workout? That happens often when we are not properly hydrated before and during heavy physical activities. This disorientation is a sign that your brain struggling to perform even its normal amount of cognitive functions like general awareness and working memory.
- It affects motor and cognitive skills
Dehydration literally slows us down, possibly due to a lack of oxygen in brain cells. It muddles concentration and delays our reaction time, making us much more vulnerable to outside threats. A recent study by the Loughborough University found that driving while dehydrated is just as bad as driving after drinking. Both affects our abilities to focus and hinders the connection between our brain and limb movements, resulting in disorientation and confusion.
- It affects memory and recall
Dehydration affects both your short-term memory and your ability to recall things you know or have learned. A sustained lack of water will make you forget little everyday things like where you left the keys just minutes ago, and will also make you forget that all-important task you had scheduled for the afternoon. Studies have found strong links between hydration levels and memory performances, with the most dehydrated study subjects performing most poorly in a multitude of memory tests.
- It lowers your pain tolerance
A 2014 study found that being dehydrated lowers our pain threshold; in other words makes us more sensitive to pain. The more dehydrated you are, the more pain you’ll feel in a situation where in a normal state you would have felt much less. This link can also explain why dehydration acts as one of the most common triggers in chronic neurological conditions like Migraine and seizures.
- It severely affects your mood
Dehydration has a very direct effect on your moods because water is necessary for hormones to flow and a lack of water in your body disrupts their normal functions. Several studies have found that increased mood disturbances are directly related to levels of hydration in your body.
How to stay hydrated
We all know we should drink more water, but let’s face it, we tend to skip that bit a lot. Here’s a few tips that will help you keep hydrated throughout the day.
- The amount of water you need depends on a lot of factors, like your body weight, height, lifestyle choices, sleep patterns etc. On an average, though, doctors recommend drinking 2-4 litres of water every day.
- Drink a glass of water first thing after you wake up. Sleep time is the longest we generally go without water, and it is important to replenish some of it the moment we can.
- Use multiple bottles of same litre capacities, and set targets to finish each by a specific time of day. For example, finish two 500 litre bottles by 12 pm.
- Tie it to a ritual. For example, every time you write 300 words, take a swig from your bottle. This will help you remember, and also help it become a habit.
- Try infusing your water with fruits, like lemon, cucumber, berries, watermelons etc. They not only make the water tastier, but also add important nutrients.
Just like our bodies, our brains run on water too. By neglecting to take in our daily amount of fluid we are denying our brains to perform to its full potential. So make sure to drink enough water today, and tomorrow. Your brain needs it.