Water affects every organ and cell within your body. You may not have known this, but water even plays an enormous role in the health of your back and spine.
Most of us associate dehydration—when more water is moving out of our body than we are taking in—with muscle cramps, fatigue, and extreme thirst. Indeed, these are just some of the consequences of subpar hydration. But, did you know that dehydration affects your brain as well?
Our brain is made up of around 73% water. If we don’t keep up with our water intake, especially in hot weather or while exercising, our thinking and cognition can suffer. In one study, adolescents who exercised for 90 minutes to a state of dehydration experienced significant shrinking of brain tissue, much like a sponge left out to dry.
Make sure you drink enough
Recommendations vary depending on weight, age, and activity level but an easy one to remember is 8x8, or 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water each day. You can also divide your weight in pounds by 2 and drink that number in ounces. For example, a 130-pound female would need 65 ounces (135/2) of water per day. Many experts recommend drinking to thirst—if you are thirsty, drink!
Not only does staying hydrated help balance your mood by aiding in body regulation and brain function, but it also offers some big-time benefits for your memory. Yep, it’s true. Proper hydration can help improve the flow of both blood and oxygen to your brain, ultimately helping strengthen cognitive function and memory.
The equation here is a simple one—a well-hydrated body is a well-energized body. Combine that with the fact that hydration can also contribute to better sleep, and you may be able to kiss the need for that regular cup of joe each morning goodbye. (Sip mindfully as you enter the evening hours, though, since consuming liquids too close to bedtime could leave you running for the bathroom in the middle of the night).
Maximize Physical Performance
If we do not stay hydrated, physical performance can suffer. This is particularly important during intense exercise or high heat. Dehydration can have a noticeable effect if you lose as little as 2 percent of your body’s water content. However, it is not uncommon for athletes to lose up to 6-10 percent of their water weight via sweat.
This can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, increased fatigue and make exercise feel much more difficult, both physically and mentally.
Optimal hydration has been shown to prevent this from happening, and may even reduce the oxidative stress that occurs during high intensity exercise. This is not surprising when you consider that muscle is about 80 percent water.
How to Tell if You're Dehydrated
· Your pee will be dark in color (resembling apple juice)
· You may feel nauseous and experience fatigue
· You might cramp up, lose focus, and feel groggy
· You stop sweating
Hydration is also important for health reasons
Dehydration can cause a dangerous imbalance in blood-sodium and fluid levels, which can lead to serious illness and even death.
The risks are heightened in extremely warm weather. If you're training outside in the heat, make sure to take in extra fluids to keep your body temperature down and prevent cramping.
Water is truly the elixir of life. As you experience all the wonderful milestones of summer, remember to drink plenty of water and eat a diet rich in hydrating whole fruits and vegetables to keep you going strong all summer long. Your body (and mind) will thank you!