We’ve all heard time and time again, how crucial it is to drink enough water throughout the day. Not only does it assist with weight loss, but more importantly it’s going to affect the functionality of your brain. Your brain controls every function in your body, so being dehydrated can cause many dysfunctions and symptoms.
3 Ways That Dehydration Affects Brain Health
Reduces Cognitive and Motor Skills
On average, the human body is 70% water. Because our bodies are predominately water, any level of dehydration can cause a decline in cognitive function and motor skills. The brain is extremely sensitive to sodium and potassium levels in our body fluid, which is going to be thrown off track when not staying properly hydrated. Research shows that symptoms shown in mild dehydration (or 4-8 hour without water), has been shown stronger in women as opposed to men. Headaches, decreased concentration, decreased memory, and a decline in motor skills/response time has been shown with lack of hydration. These symptoms rapidly increase as you approach severe dehydration, which is classified as approximately 24 hours without water consumption.
Increases Pain Sensitivity
Pain response isn’t typically something that comes to mind with thinking about dehydration. But research shows that dehydration increases our perception of pain, while also reduces blood flow in the brain. This is especially important to keep in mind if you currently deal with a condition that increases pain in general. For example, if you are dealing with a condition like migraines, arthritis, muscular disorders, or cancer, being in a dehydrated state will actually increase the level of pain that you have, as well as increase the time it takes to heal.
Creates a Disturbance in Mood
Dehydration can greatly affect our energy, anxiety level, and mood. This is thought to occur for several reasons. First, without proper water consumption, our body’s electrolyte levels are going to be imbalanced, which directly affects our mood and response. Another reason, is the effect of blood flow to the brain. When dehydration hits, the brain is not receiving efficient blood flow. This lack of blood flow can lead to an array of symptoms, which commonly includes moodiness, anger, or anxiety.
So What Do I Do?
Stay proactive! The best thing to do is to buy a stainless steel or glass water bottle that you keep with you at all times! Most people are dehydrated just because they aren’t prepared. If a water bottle sits with you at a desk all day or in your car, you’re more likely to constantly stay hydrated. If you workout, drink even more water.
There are a lot of different recommendations when it comes to how many ounces of water that one should actually be consuming per day. There are many factors that can come in play: environment (living in a desert environment will require more water consumption), weight, as well as activity level. You can approximate the amount of water that you drink by dividing your weight in pounds in half, then that number would be your goal for water consumption for the day. For example, if a person weighs 120 lbs, divide that by 2, and you would be at 60 ounces of water per day. If that person lives in a desert climate, they’ll need to consume more than that, or if that person has a consistent workout schedule, they should also increase that amount by several cups of water. There’s not an exact formula, but that’s an amazing place to start. So, keep a water bottle with you at all times, and stay aware! Your body can function and heal at a higher level with proper hydration.