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How Dehydration Negatively Affects Your Brain

The human body is made up of 60%+ water. Your body needs that water to perform many vital functions including joint lubrication, temperature regulation, flushing waste, organ function, and carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells. Without proper hydration, you run the risk of jeopardizing these functions, as well as exposing yourself to adverse effects on your brain.

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Drinking water helps avoid dehydration and its negative symptoms on the brain

The human body is made up of 60%+ water. Your body needs that water to perform many vital functions including joint lubrication, temperature regulation, flushing waste, organ function, and carrying oxygen and nutrients to cells. Without proper hydration, you run the risk of jeopardizing these functions, as well as exposing yourself to adverse effects on your brain.

Most of us have experienced “dry brain” on occasion when we haven’t hydrated properly. It’s not hard to tell because it makes us feel “off” when our essential functions go a little haywire. But how is dehydration affecting your brain? You might be surprised at how bad even mild dehydration it is for your neurological and psychological health. Here are a few reasons to make sure you’re never too far away from a drink of water.

Pain Sensitivity

Pain never feels good, and one unexpected effect of being dehydrated is an increased sensitivity to pain. Yikes! A New Zealand study asked participants to complete a two-part test where they drank water one day and no water the next day, for a total of two 24-hour periods. During each stage the participates plunged their feed into an ice-cold bath to create a pain response. The results showed that the participants who were dehydrated felt more intense pain. This study highlighted the importance of considering a patient’s hydration when it comes to treatments that involve painkillers, as well as the potential for cognitive behavior therapy to be less effective in patients who are dehydrated. If you live with a chronic pain condition, make sure you never forget proper hydration.

Cognitive and Motor Skill Reduction

Even the mildest forms of dehydration can have adverse effects on your cognitive and motor skills. It’s not only vulnerable populations like children and the elderly that are affected, but it’s also young adults. Dehydration can reduce reaction time and concentration during many vital tasks. One study looked at the effects of dehydration on golf performance found that even mild dehydration impaired shot distance, target accuracy, and distance judgment. Another study showed that people who drive while dehydrated made more mistakes like late-breaking and lane drifting than they do while adequately hydrated. Surprisingly, they did just as poorly as people who completed the driving test while intoxicated. Time to spread the word to never drive under the influence of dehydration!

studies show that a water loss of around 2% would negatively affect the memory and attention span

Memory and Attention Problems

It turns out brain function can be affected by a much lower level of dehydration than previously thought,
especially with regard to memory. Previous
studies showed that a water loss of around 2% would negatively affect the memory and attention span. This is the amount of water loss typically
associated with athletic performance. But newer studies reveal that a lack of
water can start having adverse effects as we go about regular energy
expenditure, well before a 2% loss. Groups that could be at higher risk of dehydration, and therefore memory
problems, are children who rely on adults
to give them drinking water, and older adults who lose their sensation of
thirst as kidney function declines.

Mood Changes

People tend to only think about water when they are thirsty,
but it might be a good idea to hydrate if you are feeling moody and tired. A
study conducted by the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory
tested a range of people from high-performance
athletes to those who are sedentary.
While mildly dehydrated, all the participants experienced fatigue, tension, and
anxiety while performing tasks. Women were especially susceptible to the
adverse effects, but both sexes saw adverse mood changes that could limit their
motivation and inhibited their daily activities.

Hydration is vital to a healthy brain and your ability to function in life. If you suspect you might suffer from occasional or regular dehydration, it’s time to boost your water game.

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