04. Wellness

Optimal Hydration for Brain Health and Mental Agility

May 3, 2024

Although it's one of the simplest aspects of our diet to manage, optimal hydration plays an often overlooked role in brain health and performance. The vital organ within our skill depends on hydration like a traveler in a desert oasis. Beyond merely quenching thirst, optimal hydration is pivotal for maintaining peak cognitive function and preserving brain health. Here we will overview this critical relationship, highlighting the multiple ways in which water impacts our mental prowess.

Fluid in our Brain Biology

The brain is a watery marvel, comprised of about 73% water. Just as a river nourishes the land it flows through, hydration serves as the lifeblood of cognitive processes. Research emphasizes the significance of hydration in maintaining proper neurotransmitter function, facilitating efficient neuronal communication, and supporting overall cognitive performance.

Mental Agility

If you think of the brain as a finely-tuned engine, then hydration is a bit like premium-grade fuel. Studies have highlighted the correlation between hydration status and global cognitive function over multiple years, revealing that even mild dehydration over the long term can lead to reductions in attention, memory, and executive function. From tackling complex problems or playing sports, to staying sharp during meetings, staying adequately hydrated is a simple everyday way to avoid concentration problems.

Role in Memory and Mood

Hydration may be many people's unknown ally against forgetfulness. Studies reveal how liquid intake plays a surprisingly central role in memory consolidation, in particular showing that how short-term memory improves following fluid consumption. The takeaway is that if you are dehydrated, you are less likely to remember things. As memory is closely tied to learning, this is especially important for students.

Emotions emerge from our brain's chemistry. Here hydration quitely effects our mood stability, a little like being 'hangry'. Though in people who have generally poor hydration levels, the effects can be quite substantial, with research showing that increasing their daily water intake triggering significant improvements in overall mood levels.

This may also be a factor in the lows typically experienced in alcohol related hangovers, where the dehydration effects are known to cause headaches.
Accordingly, lack of water intake is also associated with increased risk of depression and anxiety.

Role in Brain Health

Known as the ''hydromolecular hypothesis'', lifelong hydration habits may play an important part in the prevention of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases like dementia, into older age. For example Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients are often at major risk of dehydration, while typically unaware. Aside from complex chemistry interactions at the cellular level, each night while asleep the brain literally washes away dead cells and toxins through cerebrospinal fluid flow.

Related, hydration levels have also been shown to directly affect sleep quality. Intriguingly, inadequate fluid intake appears to result in too much the time spent in REM dream states, reducing the amount of time in deep sleep, which is crucial for restoration and repair throughout the body and brain.

The Simple Way to Safeguard Your Brain Health

For the majority of people water is cheap, accessible and a thirst quenching beverage. Though under appreciated by most people, our brains depend on adequate hydration to remain healthy in both the long and short term, as well as retain optimal cognitive performance. If you get to the state of feeling thirsty then usually you are already starting dehydrate. As possibly the easiest way to look after your grey matter, it's good practice to always have fluids to drink nearby.

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