Ever experienced a lack of concentration, inactiveness, fatigue, and out-of-focus? Physically, yes. But mentally? Many of us might not know but dehydration, as much it affects our bodies, also hamper our brain functioning.
Dehydration effect on the brain cells and eventually, the cognitive function, takes a heavy negative toll on the overall performance.
Dehydration Effects On Brain & Body: What Does the Research Say?
Water makes up roughly 70% of your total body weight. Water is required for nearly every bodily function, but how much do you truly require?
The average adult loses more than 80 ounces of water every day from sweating, breathing, and removing wastes, according to the Mayo Clinic.
So, if you drink less than 80 ounces of water per day, how does it affect your brain function and overall health?
According to a recent study from Atlanta’s Georgia Institute of Technology, simply a few hours of vigorous exertion in the heat without drinking fluids or eating can have a significant impact on focus.
Dehydration by 1–2% lowers cognitive performance and has an impact on psychomotor and memory skills, according to studies.
With an increase in temperature, a 4% fluid deficit reduces performance, produces headaches, irritability, tiredness, and raises respiration rate in youngsters.
Muscle endurance and strength are also affected by dehydration. Fluid depletion of more than 8% can result in death.
How Does a Dehydrated Body and Mind Affect Our Daily Life?
There are no two ways in the notion that water is an extremely essential nutrient both for the normal functioning and metabolism of the body and also for the cognitive function of the brain.
Around 60 percent of your body’s work depends on water. It is required for the following important functions like protecting organs, detoxification, and transportation of nutrients and oxygen to cells.
The effects of dehydration on the brain and body can turn fatal if not timely cured. The decreasing amount of water available to your body can have a significant impact on its ability to accomplish the daily body processes.
It can lower internal sodium and electrolyte levels and create physical and cognitive deficits which make it difficult to do things like linguistic thinking, mental math, and decision making, motor coordination, and executive function.
Dehydration can lead to many indefinite symptoms which can be mild and severe both. The common symptoms are-
- Extreme thirst
- Dark-colored urine
- Dehydration Headaches
- Less frequent urination
If the water intake is not adequate for a prolonged time, serious symptoms can be seen which include-
- Kidney problems
- Seizures or muscle contractions
- Heat injury, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke
- Hypovolemic shock
Does Dehydration Impair Cognitive Ability?
YES. Dehydration leads to an impairment in cognitive ability. Mental functioning is what impacts the most when a person suffers dehydration.
The studies say that being 1% dehydrated is enough to cause a 5% impairment in cognitive performance.
A 2% drop in brain moisture can cause short-term memory loss and difficulties with numerical calculations.
This is highly concerning and an alarming situation and can lead to many future repercussions on the body and mind of a person.
Another research focused on the effect of dehydration on women, concluded that women of all ages are more susceptible to dehydration’s consequences, but elderly women are more vulnerable.
Women with inadequate levels of hydration performed worse on cognitive activities related to attention and processing speed.
The studies done around older adults pretty much throws light on the same issue. Dehydrated adults were at higher risk for dementia, whereas dementia patients were at higher risk for dehydration, according to a study of 1,091 people over 65 who had their cognitive function and hydration state assessed.
All these researches and studies quantify the severe effects of dehydration on the mental and cognitive function of an individual. Thus, hydrating and rehydrating yourself especially if you are sweating it out a lot or are suffering from diarrhea or nausea, is essential.
How To Keep Optimal Hydration for Brain Health and Function
To prevent your mind from succumbing to a lack of fluid, it is crucial for you to know about hydration and how to balance it in your daily life.
Here are some quick tips for keeping optimal hydration for your overall health and smooth cognitive function-
- While dehydration is not good, overhydration also impacts your cognitive function negatively. Thus, make sure you have an optimum intake of fluids, especially water, according to the accepted intake levels which are-
- 8-11 cups for women
- 10-15 cups for men
- Hydration levels do not only improve from plain water. You need to get enrichment from additional sources as well.
For those into sports and heavy workouts, here is your complete guide to hydration.
- Avoid alcohol to minimize the risk of dehydration. Limit your intake to 1-2 pegs a day and not more than that.
Alcohol can be dehydrating as it is a diuretic and causes more urination thus leading to loss of electrolytes and fluids.
- Choose commercial beverages wisely for your hydration. The marketed sports and energy drinks contain artificial sweeteners and preservatives which have major harmful impacts on your body. However, prefer plain water whenever you can against these.
- Strength conditioning workouts that increase muscle mass can also help to preserve your body’s stored water.
For an insight into the best foods to consume to increase muscle mass, visit here.
Your body will work efficiently and accomplish all of the required actions if you drink the right fluids in the right quantity and at the right time.
The brain and body are two of the most valuable assets we have. Water keeps the balance between the two intact.