We have all heard that drinking eight glasses of water per day will keep your body healthy, but what about our brains?
Since our bodies consist of 70% water, all the cells in our bodies – including brain cells – depend heavily on water to carry out essential functions.
Therefore, if our water levels are too low, our brains cannot function properly which can lead to cognitive problems.
How can water help your brain?
Your brain needs to stay hydrated because water helps to:
- Produce hormones and neurotransmitters and help reduce cortisol levels.
- Maintain the fluid levels that shield your spinal cord and brain from injury.
- Maintain the process of neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) and production, longevity, and function of all brain cells.
- Flush the metabolic waste and toxins that build up in the brain.
- Keep your blood flowing properly and deliver oxygen, vitamins, and minerals to your brain.
Consequently, as hydration levels drop, the abovementioned brain processes start to decline. That’s why dehydration and poor brain health are closely associated and why increasing your fluid intake can improve your learning capacity, thinking, and concentration.
What does the research show?
According to an article published in the National Library of Medicine, when people become dehydrated and perform cognitively engaging tasks, their brains show signs of increased neuronal activation. This means that their brains are working harder than usual to complete tasks.
This increased effort typically causes fatigue and mood changes in young, healthy adults. However, in individuals with lower cognitive reserves, like the elderly, dehydration can cause a drop in cognitive performance.
Furthermore, in a meta-analysis of 33 studies with a total of 413 participants, researchers found that even a 2% reduction in body mass from dehydration — for example, 1.3 kg of fluid loss in a person weighing roughly 70 kg — showed signs of impairments in attention and motor coordination.
What can you do?
First off, if you are having difficulties regulating your daily water intake, a good precautionary measure would be to create a schedule – bear in mind though, overhydration can lead to a drop in sodium levels and can induce delirium and other neurological complications.
Fortunately, our bodies can obtain water from multiple nutritional resources, and not just from the number of glasses we drink per day.
Foods like melon, oranges, berries, lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes are all filled (is this what you meant) with water. So, if you are struggling to reach your daily hydration goal, try incorporating some of these foods into your diet.