Dehydration can cause some serious negative effects on parts of the body, and the brain is no exception. When you don’t drink enough throughout the day your brain functions at a lower level. It’s important to prioritize hydration for both your body and brain.
Whether we’re just busy, lazy, or simply thinking we are drinking enough, a lot of people probably aren’t getting the right amount of water for their body and brain to function at its highest potential.
According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, even just 2% dehydration takes a toll on our brain function. Here are a few symptoms you may experience when you are not as hydrated as you should be:
- Memory loss
- Poor focus and Attention
- Slow processing of information
Dr. Caroline Edmonds and her team performed a study testing the affects of dehydration on brain performance and mood. They found that those who drank water before performing a cognitive test had 14% increased reaction time compared to those who did not drink water. In addition to their decreased cognitive performance, those who were dehydrated reported being more confused and tense than those who drank water.
So, how much water should you be drinking a day to make sure your brain can function well? You may have heard that 8 cups of water a day is the gold standard for hydration. New research from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), however, suggests that the average woman should be drinking about 74 ounces or about 9 cups per day, and the average man should be drinking about 101 ounces or about 13 cups per day.
According to the Mayo Clinic, infants and children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, and people who work or exercise outside are at greater risk of dehydration and should take extra caution to make sure they are getting enough fluids each day.
As we head into the winter months, it’s easy to think we are safe from dehydration since sweating in the sun is no longer a source of concern for us. Don’t let this stop you from being conscious about your water intake! It is especially important to be aware of your hydration levels when you are working out. Sweating empties your body of some of its water, so it’s vital that you drink more when you are exercising. The more vigorous the workout, the more you should drink as well.
Here are some tips for reaching your water quota each day:
- Use a bottle that shows the ounces on the side to help you keep track, and write it down throughout the day, so you don’t forget what number you are at after refills
- If you get bored of just plain water, then add lemon or herbs to change up the flavor
- Foods like watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes and soups can be good sources of fluid too
- Avoid sugary drinks and foods that are high in sodium
So, make sure that you listen to your body and recognize when you are feeling a little foggy, slower in processing, feel a headache coming on, or having trouble with your memory. If you are, then maybe that’s your body telling you it’s time to take a few gulps!
If you are interested in learning more about more ways to boost your brain function, visit neurogrow.com to get information about our Brain Fitness Program!
This blog was written by the lead Brain Coach at NeuroGrow, Ms. Emily Scott, and edited by Dr. Majid Fotuhi.