Your body must be hydrated to survive. We are made up of 60% water that is vital for us to perform a multitude of functions, including regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, carrying nutrients and oxygen to our cells. How important is water for brain health though? Today we will investigate the effect of dehydration on the brain and how best to feed and hydrate it for optimal cognitive health.
Three areas of the brain are associated with memory: the hippocampus, neo-cortex and the amygdala. Unfortunately, as we all age our cognitive ability declines and these parts of the brain start to lose their mass. However, delaying the onset of this can be greatly aided by our diet. Studies have found that the functioning of our brain can be compromised by just a minor amount of dehydration. This greatly affects our memory, attention span and mood.
Mild dehydration can affect our emotional state and cause both men and women to experience irregularities in their mood. Studies have revealed that not consuming enough water can induce fatigue, headaches, and impair our ability to remain focused. Consequently, someone that is not hydrated will begin to become frustrated and irritated.
Reduced Cognitive Function
Cognitive losses in motor skills, visualisation, and alertness also result from dehydration. In addition, the ability to think coherently and respond effectively to a complex situation is reported to decrease significantly after long periods of dehydration. This is apparent in both adults and children but affects children more as their brain is growing and developing at a much faster rate.
What Can We Do?
These brain related health effects of dehydration highlight the importance of staying hydrated, not just for physical function but for our mental and emotional wellbeing.
Ensuring that water is available is vital for optimal brain function and overall health. For people living in hot climates and engaging in sports regularly, this is of critical importance. The NHS recommends that people drink about 1.2 litres of fluid per day to prevent dehydration but recommends more if you are living in hotter climates.
Tips for Hydration
There are numerous ways you can ensure that your brain health is not compromised and that you stay hydrated throughout the day.