Staying Hydrated: Are You Getting Enough H2O?

July 9, 2009 at 10:33 am 1 comment

Staying Hydrated for Brain Health:  Image by brokenarts on Stock.XchngIt’s a scorcher of a summer here in my home state of Texas, with triple digit  temperatures being common so far this year.   And when heat hits, hydration becomes more of  an issue for brain function.

The brain is made up of more than 65% water, and when we get even slightly dehydrated, cognitive function suffers.   The brain cells actually lose volume, and the signals don’t travel as well through the neurons, affecting our attention, focus, short term memory, and other functions.  Headaches are common, and the reduction in brain volume increases the risk of concussion should we have the bad luck to take a tumble while less than adequately hydrated.

High summer temperatures aren’t the only reason for becoming dehydrated;  as we age, the part of the brain that regulates thirst often begins to malfunction, so that it no longer tells us when we’re thirsty and need to drink.  We also need need to pay special attention to fluid intake whenever we exercise,  run a fever, sweat profusely, suffer from diarhea, or eat high amounts of salt and sugars.  And the more we weigh, the more water we generally need.

So, how much water should we be drinking?
That’s a tough question; the exact amounts vary from person to person, and situation to situation.  For younger folks, “drink when you’re thirsty” is the best guide, but when the thirst trigger may be untrustworthy, the old standby of “8 8oz glasses a day” is still a decent guideline.  It’s no longer considered a hard and fast rule, but iff  adjusted  for your climate, activity levels and so on, “8 glasses a day”remains a good approximation of what most healthy adults should be drinking .

And  remember that almost all  fluids  (except for alcohol ) help with hydration, as do foods that contain high fluid levels, like many fruits and soups, for instance. (Just watch the salt levels in the soups!)

Another good approach is to keep a water (or tea, or juice) bottle close at hand so we can sip on it throughout the day.   Form the habit of regularly taking drinks of water, and you’ll be far less likely to wind up suffering from mild dehydration!

One final caution:
it is possible (though uncommon) to *overdose* on water.   It’s most often seen in athletes who chug water after a high intensity event or workout, or occasionally in fraternity/radio contest stunts.  It’s not normally a risk for people drinking ordinary amounts of water, but still, there is a limit on how much water you should make yourself drink!

Entry filed under: Nutrition & Diet. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Denize  |  July 13, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Interesting topic!
    One of other side effects of heat for me is a inner claustrophobic feeling hat and irritability. I have always had higher core temperature and when competitive swimming in my youth used to sweat in the pool during hard training.
    I have found the perfect place to live now way above the arctic circle, with short summers, but 24 hour daylight for 57 days and long colder winters, with 31 days with no daylight and temperatures well below freezing. However, my favorite time of the year!
    Cold weather can also be dangerous to brain function. When people are hot their blood vessels expand and when cold compress leading to lower circulation – slower oxygen delivery to the brain. Which in turn can lead to judgment errors and if no heat source is found, numbness and eventual death. For those people who are already compromised with poor oxygen levels, they need to prepare for the up coming cold weather, as the potential risk for heart attack and stroke increases.
    I was surprised to hear that you can die from an overdose of water! Researching it on the web there are some interesting stories.
    Thank you for this informative blog.

    Reply

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About This Blog


A healthy mind and brain is key to a healthy, active life. Come along for the ride as we explore the basics of brain health, with topics including:
  • Physical Exercise
  • Cognitive Training
  • Stress Management
  • Social Interaction
  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
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Authored by Tori Deaux
Sponsored by Dakim Brain Fitness

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