How Hydration Affects Your Brain

Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your body. You're probably aware of the impact hydration has on your physical performance. But did you know it also has a huge impact on your mental performance?

Depending on your sex and stage of life, at least 60% of our body is water. If you aren’t thirsty, your body still needs water. If you are thirsty, you need to drink more than you think you need! 

Unlike food, the maximum time an individual can go without water is about a week. But that estimate is even shorter in difficult conditions, like heat. One week is actually longer than the average person would survive. 

“Under extreme conditions an adult can lose 1 to 1.5 liters of sweat per hour,” Randall K. Packer wrote in a 2002 article for Scientific American. “If that lost water is not replaced, the total volume of body fluid can fall quickly and, most dangerously, blood volume may drop.”

General health benefits of water

Drinking water helps your brain's performance

Water does so many things for us! It regulates our body temperature through sweat and respiration, it is a lubricant for our joints, and it flushes waste.

Water is needed by all living things to survive. It gives life to plants and animals as well. 

Other benefits of water:

- Increases brain power and provides energy
- Promotes healthy weight management and weight loss
- Flushes out toxins
- Improves your complexion
- Maintains regularity
- Boosts immune system
- Prevents headaches
- Prevents cramps and sprains
- Helps regulate your body temperature
- Prevents backaches
- Improves your heart health
- Prevents bad breath
- Takes edge off hangovers
- Puts you in a better mood

    How water benefits your brain 

    We all have a general understanding of what our brains do for us. But let's get a clearer so you can appreciate how important water is to your brain health.

    The brain, along with the spinal cord and nerves form the central nervous system. The brain is a soft mass of nerves and tissues that are all connected to the spinal cord.

    The spinal cord is the pathway of your body and your brain is the command center. Basically, the brain controls everything you do, from your actions to your thoughts. So, we can both agree that it plays an important role. 

    (That's an understatement!)

    Lack of water for the brain

    Many people forget to drink water during the day which leads to dehydration.

    The effects of dehydration don't just come for the brain, but for many other parts of your body. However, the brain (your body's command center) is possibly the most important body part to receive H2O.

    If you don’t drink enough water throughout the day, your brain doesn't function as well. In fact, it only takes 2% of your body dehydrated to impair your mental performance.

    Some of those effects, dehydration can have on the brain, include:

    Memory loss
    - Poor focus and attention
    - Slow processing of information
    - Irritability
    - Headaches
    - Cognitive deficits
    - More sensitive to pain
    - Swelling of the brain can happen if you drink too much water right away after being dehydrated. It is important to pace yourself. Brain cells are never something you want affected because the consequences can be grave.

      Headaches are the most common side effect of dehydration. If you get frequent headaches, drinking the right amount of water every day will bring down your headache numbers.

      Be sure to adjust the amount of water you drink to the amount of activity you do or water-filled foods you eat. If you feel like you’re experiencing dehydration, here are some symptoms.

      Symptoms of dehydration:

      Dry/sticky mouth
      - Muscle cramps
      - Headache
      - Dry skin
      - Dark colored urine
      - Feeling tired/low energy
      - Dizziness

        What is the solution? Drink water and if it is really bad, to where it becomes dangerous, go to the hospital. You may need an IV if it's severe.

        Make a habit out of hydration

        Make drinking water fun. Get a fun water bottle or make it into a reward system for yourself. Be intentional about drinking water throughout the day. If we don’t take care of the body we’re in, how can we expect it to function well?

        “Brain cells require a delicate balance between water and various elements to operate,” says University of Texas neuroscientist Joshua Gowin. “When you lose too much water, that balance is disrupted. Your brain cells lose efficiency.”

        Research has demonstrated that lack of water to the brain can impair short-term memory function and the recall of long-term memory, as well as cause a variety of symptoms such as brain fog, exhaustion, headaches, sleep issues, stress, anger, and depression.

        Positive effects of water on the brain

        Hydration improves your mental performance

        The amount of water you should be drinking a day depends on your weight, height, and physical activity, but the average size person should be drinking about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men and 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.

        Some people need more and some require less. The more water you drink, the more you’ll understand what your body needs.

        Keep in mind that about 20% of your fluid intake comes from the food and drink at mealtime. Fruits and foods like grapes, melons, cucumbers, apples, etc, can hold lots of water. A good formula to find out your body intake is found here.

        If you read the negative effects of the lack of water for the brain, then the benefits would be the opposite!

        Water and healthy hydration benefits your brain in many ways.

        How healthy hydration benefits your brain:

        - Improves memory
        - Helps the brain function faster/more accurately
        - Improves attention span and focus
        - Decreases chances for headaches
        - Helps to even out mood swings
        - Leaves you with more energy
        - It helps to process information quicker

          Water and healthy hydration helps increase blood flow and oxygen, increasing concentration and leading to many other other positive aspects in our daily lives.

          The conclusion: water allows your brain to function better. If your brain functions smoothly, the rest of your body will work better too! 


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