Everything we do begins with the brain. This brilliant organ necessitates our survival and orchestrates our movements, thought patterns and creations. So, looking after it could not be more important. A varied diet, exercise and good sleep are all essential for a healthy brain. However, one of the simplest ways to improve brain function is by simply staying hydrated.
Given that water is critical for the functioning of every other part of the body, it is no surprise that the brain also requires adequate hydration in order to perform properly. Water is essential in delivering blood, nutrients and oxygen to the brain – all of which are needed for brain cells to function. Not only this, but water also helps rid brain cells of harmful toxins.
In the short term, dehydration means that brain cells do not receive what they need to operate properly. In the long term, chronic dehydration can lead to brain cells physically shrinking, causing premature ageing of the brain. As the brain has no way of storing water, it is even more important to stay hydrated throughout the day. The NHS Eatwell Guide recommends we drink 6-8 glasses of water per day to stay healthily hydrated. And don’t worry, tea and coffee count!
To get the most out of life, and ourselves, we need our brains to be functioning at their optimum. Being productive relies on our ability to focus, recall information efficiently and maintain a positive mood. Fortunately, these are all things hydration can help with.
Many scientific studies have testified to the link between hydration and improved brain function. It has been suggested that a weight loss of as little as 0.22% due to dehydration can negatively affect cognitive abilities. Concentration and focus are areas vulnerable to the harmful effects of dehydration. Shockingly, one study by Loughborough University indicated that dehydration can be as dangerous for driving as being over the UK alcohol limit! Strong links have also been found between dehydration and memory: participants completing word recall tests performed noticeably worse when moderately dehydrated. When allowed to drink water again, their performance improved.
And it is not just our cognitive abilities that are improved by hydration. Evidence suggests that our emotional resilience and energy levels can also be elevated by drinking enough water. Mild dehydration has correlations with fatigue, anxiety and even depression. While there are many other factors that can influence mood, staying adequately hydrated will take you one step closer to staying positive, energetic and motivated!
The science is clear: quenching your thirst is crucial for a functioning brain. Nourishing your body and brain with enough water will improve alertness, attentiveness, energy, memory and mood. So if you want to be firing on all cylinders – boosting your creativity, energy and focus to reach your productive peak – listen to your body and, if you need to, get sipping!