The easiest way to get healthier fast is with good old fashioned water. Sounds easy right? But most of America is chronically dehydrated; leading to more than just a little dry mouth. Water plays a vital role in every aspect of our bodies. Studies have shown that most people are always partially dehydrated. This means that their brain is working considerably below its capacity and potential. Scary, right?
The Mayo Clinic says that the average adult loses more than 10 cups of water every day through breathing, perspiring, and eliminating wastes. This is without adding in the extra water we need during the summer heat and when engaging in cardiovascular exercise! Without enough H20, cells don’t move quickly, detoxification slows down and simple things like staying focused on a conversation or remembering where you put the keys can be extra difficult. Maybe you’ve been struggling with minor headaches, dizziness, or bumping into things more often- that’s because your visual and psycho-motor systems are also plagued by your thirsty brain. In extreme cases of dehydration, delirium can ensue causing extreme confusion, fainting, inability to speak or think coherently, disorientation and hallucinations can occur—seriously scary stuff.
Our brain is over 80% water and controls each and every process that happens inside of our body. This control is maintained by constantly sending and receiving electrical signals through our nervous system, which in reality is nothing more than an elaborate system of water ways. The fluid inside our nerves is made up almost completely of water and minerals; including sodium. So without enough water, these systems don’t communicate well.
Our blood, the very substance of our existence, is more than 83% water and flows throughout our body distributing nutrients, oxygen and antibodies. In order for our blood to properly carry out its many critical tasks our body must be sufficiently hydrated. An inadequate intake of water causes the properties of our blood to change and negatively affects virtually every aspect of our health That means you’re also losing essential salts like sodium and potassium too. That salt loss actually changes the chemical makeup of your blood and brain chemistry. Your brain then becomes incredibly sensitive to that change—and it’s that sensitivity that triggers less efficient communication among neurotransmitters, and less effectiveness in medications and supplements.
The other huge issue is that your body is not getting rid of waste. This means your brain and body are effected by toxins that your body needs to get rid of. It may sound gross but regular bowel movements and urination are what keeps your skin clear, brain running smoothly and vital organs working as they should be. When you’re fully hydrated, the waste is easily flushed out. When there isn’t enough hydration, waste is literally sitting in your body, building up toxins.
Are You Getting Enough Water?
Let’s face it, most of us consume more caffeine than we do water; and with the summer heat, getting hydrated is more important than ever. Many of us are running on energy drinks and soda, without even thinking about how many glasses of water we have had. The bottom line is adults and children in the United States are dehydrated, which consequently effects brain chemistry and ones overall health. Adequate hydration is important for proper brain functioning; as mild dehydration can impair your ability to concentrate, compromise your digestive track, and cause a decrease in energy. Research shows that dehydration can contribute to Attention Deficit Disorder, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, anxiety and depression
You Need More Than Just Water
You may be grabbing your water bottle right now but try not to overdo it, because your body needs hydration from foods too. In fact, too much water can result in a disruption of important electrolyte levels. Think in terms of hydration, rather than just water. Pay attention to foods and other hydrating beverages just as much as you do on water. Foods that have over 90% water content like grapefruit and watermelon also contain essential nutrients and electrolytes required to maintain proper hydration and optimal brain function.
Beverages like coconut water and sports drinks containing electrolytes—without added sugars—are effective and convenient ways to stay hydrated. (Caffeinated or sweetened beverages should not be counted towards your daily water intake as they actually cause the body to excrete water.)
- Watermelon water, or just the melon are filled with, well, water. Now this is a food with some serious hydration power. Watermelon is 91.5% water, according to the USDA. So if you’re bored of plain H20 blend up a watermelon and add some extra water- tasty and hydrating.
- Coconut water is one of the richest natural sources of electrolytes and can be used to prevent dehydration from strenuous exercise, vomiting, or diarrhea. You lose electrolytes (especially sodium and potassium) when you sweat, which must be replenished with food and water intake. Because coconut water naturally contains so many electrolytes, it’s been called “Nature’s Gatorade.”
Foods Filled With Water
- Celery contains folate and vitamins A, C, and K. It’s high water content (90%) celery neutralizes stomach acid and is often recommended as a natural remedy for heartburn and acid reflux.
- Baby Carrots:baby-sized carrots that have become a staple in supermarkets and lunchboxes contain more water than full-size carrots (which are merely 88.3% water).
- Cucumbers: At 95 percent water content, a cup of cucumber slices is nearly as thirst-quenching as a glass of water. Cucumbers also provide a little fiber and some vitamin C.
- Berries: Blueberries and blackberries are more than 85 percent water while strawberries are 92 percent water.
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A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. If you are in a warmer climate or exercising add in a few more cups. Your brain and body will thank you!
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.
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