We all know that water is essential for life, but did you know that water provides essential energy to the brain? It’s vital to keep the nerve signals firing and helps us with memory and to be able to think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity. Every function of the body, including the nervous system and the brain, are reliant on water.1
The human body will not function without water. We need it to breathe since our lungs must be moistened to facilitate the breathing process. Every day we lose approximately 1 pint of water from our bodies just from exhaling.2 I mentioned the consumption of water specifically because the brain does not store water, so we must replenish it. We hear it all the time; “Drink more water!” But I don’t think that most people realize what happens when you don’t.
Among other things, you can get brain fog, headaches, constipation, fatigue, stiffness, muscle tightness, and muscle cramps. You can also experience more pain!
The adult body is approximately 60% water. The brain is approximately 85% water. Every single cell, organ, and tissue in your body needs water to function. You can live three weeks without food but only three days without water. Water carries nutrients and oxygen to our cells through our blood. It is found in the lymph, which is part of the immune system. The body needs water to regulate temperature, hydrate tissues, flush out toxins, and remove waste. Water aids in digestion by breaking down food with saliva. We need it to protect the brain and the spinal cord and to help lubricate joints. Water also acts as a shock absorber for our bodies. This is handy for those of us with balance issues!
Water is the most important nutrient for your brain!
- Water enhances the function of nerve cells and the brain’s production of hormones and neurotransmitters.3
- It boosts brainpower. Drinking 8-10 cups of water per day can improve cognitive function by as much as 30%.4
- It helps with fatigue. Brain cells need twice the amount of energy than other cells in the body and water supplies energy.5
- Water helps control body temperature regulation by enabling the body to release heat when the ambient temperature is higher than body temperature.6 The body cools from the evaporation of water from the surface of the skin.
Dehydration can cause mental and physical problems including;
- Anxiety and nervousness. This is because dehydration causes the energy in the brain to decrease. For this reason, dehydration has also been linked to depression. 7
- Just a 2% dehydration level can trigger short-term memory problems and difficulty focusing on a computer screen or printed page.8
- Dehydration causes brain shrinkage and may negatively impact executive functions like planning and visuospatial processing.9
- Water lubricates connective tissue and the bulk of the water in the body is in the tendons, ligaments, and collagen fibers. If we lose too much water from connective tissue, we are more prone to physical injury, which leads to inflammation. Pain can be caused by dehydration because inflammation accumulates to repair damage and if your body is dehydrated, it “steals” water from other areas, including your joints. This loss of water in the joints allows toxins to build up, leading to pain and inflammation.10
- Not drinking enough water can irritate the bladder and increase urination frequency. Drinking more water may help with incontinence and does not exasperate the problem. Your body will use the water to flush out excess amounts of acid and bacteria.11
- Chronic dehydration can lead to back pain! It can make your back stiff and sore and cause muscle spasms and slipped discs.12 Dehydration takes the water from the discs between every other vertebra in your spine which causes the back to ache.13
How much water does the average adult need? Recommendations vary. It depends on the environment, health, and activity level. The consensus seems to be between six and eight, 8oz glasses of water per day or to drink half your body weight in ounces. You can also, ‘eat your water’.
Here are some good food sources to help keep up your fluid intake:
- Red seedless grapes
- Romaine lettuce
- Bell peppers
Water is something we don’t usually think about but it has a big impact on our health. Remember– water intake must balance water loss.
How are you keeping hydrated? Please let us know in the comments.
1,3 Hearn,M., Hearn,N. Water and Brain Function. How to Improve Memory and Focus.www.waterbenefitshealth.com/water-and-brain-function-how-to-improve-memory-and-focus 2 Phillips, L M.D., Water- The Most Vital Nutrient-Me & My Body, www.meandmybody.com/browse_topic.php?topicld=22&all=1 4,8www.shape.com/healthy-drinks/6-reasons-drinking-waterhelps-solve-any-problem0 5http://theawesomefacts.blogspot.com/2011/03/your-brain-is-80-of-water.html 6 Montain et al. (1999). Military Medicine, 164: 502-508 7freedrinkingwater.com.21-water-and-depression-stress-anxiety.htm 9 Kempton,MJ., Hum Brain Mapp.2011 Jan;32(1):71-9. Doi: 10.1002/hbm.20999 Dehydration affects brain structure and function in healthy adolescents. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20336685 10www.murad.com/blog/the-link-between-dehydration-and-pain 11freedrinkingwater.com/water_health/incontinence-treatment-drinking-filtered-water.htm) 12 www.thejoint.com/.../189918-link-between-dehydration-back-pain 13 info.illinoisbackpain.com/blog/bid/343648/How-Does-Water-Dehydration-cause-back-pain