At least two-thirds of your body is made up of water and it plays an essential role in our normal functions. So when your body becomes dehydrated, it can lead to a number of ailments.
Explaining it further, three-quarters of your brain is made up of water and about 83 percent of your lungs are made up of water as well. This is clear indication that drinking a sufficient amount of water is more important than it seems. Water nourishes the bones, keeping them strong; it regulates body temperature, and also nourishes the brain and spinal cord.
This occurs when your body uses all the water and fails to replenish it. There are certain cases of mild dehydration that can be easily treated, but for more severe levels of dehydration, it can be life threatening and can also lead to severe brain issues.
Without proper function of the brain, not only will your daily functions be affected, but trying to restore the damage that was done to the brain may not be possible. Read on to find out how the brain is affected by dehydration.
Dehydration Shrinks Your Brain: Because three-quarters of your brain is made up of water, it only makes sense that when you become dehydrated; your brain shrinks in volume. This is one of the main causes of headaches.
Even a mild or temporary dehydration has the ability to alter your brain function and make a direct impact on your mood. A 2013 study was conducted that featured 20 women in their 20’s who were deprived of every beverage for 24 hours. Their thirst and heart rate saw an increase, and their urine output was reduced.
In regards to mood affects, the research team had this to say ““The significant effects of [fluid deprivation] on mood included decreased alertness and increased sleepiness, fatigue and confusion. The most consistent effects of mild dehydration on mood are on sleep/wake parameter.”
The good news from the study is that within 20 minutes of consuming water, these affects were quickly reversed. Headaches that are suffered from dehydration are quickly alleviated once you re-hydrate yourself. If you consume cold water, it actually absorbs 20 percent faster than lukewarm or tepid water.
As a parent, if you notice that your kids are struggling with fatigue and frequent mood swings, try having them drink a significant amount of water on a daily basis and see if that has any affect. Children are more susceptible to dehydration because of all the sweet drinks that they consume.
A Harvard study backs up these claims. The study found that half of American children are dehydrated, which can lead to repercussions in their academic performance. Out of the half, about one-quarter do not drink water on a daily basis. The study also found that boys were 75 percent more likely to become dehydrated than girls.
How Dehydration Impacts Main Brain Functions: In 2011, a study was conducted that found that dehydration that was caused by excessive exercise which also caused induced sweating led to a stronger increase in fronto-parietal blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) response during an executive function task.
Researchers found that the increase BOLD response was not in parallel with diminishing cognitive response, so they determined that dehydration impaired metabolic activity in the brain.
“Given the limited availability of brain metabolic resources, these findings suggest that prolonged states of reduced water intake may adversely impact executive functions such as planning and visuo-spatial processing,” researchers indicated.
Dehydration Can Impair Your Driving: Because dehydration reduces your cognitive functions, these declines can have serious ramifications when you’re driving an automobile. Recent research shows that dehydrated drivers make twice the mistakes during a two-hour drive compared to dehydrated drivers.
The study tested drivers who drank 200ml of water per hour, compared to 25ml of water that was drank by dehydrated drivers.
During the hydrated test, 47 errors were made. However, when the dehydrated driving test was conducted, that number rose to 101 errors. That same number was equal to those who are sleep deprived when driving or at the drink-drive limit.
Your Entire Body Suffers When Your Dehydrated: Your entire body suffers when your dehydrated. Even moderate dehydration has enough power to produce an imbalance in your equilibrium. After you lose one to two percent of your fluid, you become thirsty. However, at this point your already dehydrated and it’s already affecting your function.
Symptoms of long-term dehydration or more severe dehydration include rapid heartrate, high cholesterol, signs of premature aging such as dry skin, and low blood pressure. Consuming as little as 16 ounces of water a day can raise your metabolic rate as high as 30 percent.
Signs of Dehydration: Using thirst as a measure of determining when your body is dehydrated is one of the best measures. Another common way to tell is if you have excessive hunger– mainly sugar cravings in particular. In fact, sugar- cravings are one of the first telltale signs of dehydration.
Other signs that are strong indicators that you need to drink more water include the following: fatigue/dizziness, poor concentration, muscle cramps, dry skin or itchy mouth, and low urine output.
How to Assess Your Hydration Level: After emptying your bladder, drink 11ml of water per kilogram of your body weight. Wait an hour after drinking it then urinate into a collection cup. If your urination is a lot less than the total amount of water you have drank, than it means your body is retaining water, meaning you are dehydrated.
Other Ways to Assess Dehydration: The average amount of times people urinate is between four to seven times per day. If you urinate less than four times, or not at all, you need to be drinking more water.
The color of your urine is the easiest way to determine if you’re dehydrated. The more water your body has for your kidneys to mix with waste products, the lighter your urine will be. You should be consuming enough water so your urine is a light yellow color.
If your urine is a dark color, it means that your kidneys are working extra hard to remove the waste in your body to prevent further dehydration.
Another way to determine dehydration is by the odor of your urine. Your urine should be relatively odorless, depending on the food you consume. The more concentrated your urine is from the removal of waste products, the more it will smell of ammonia.
Drink Pure Water Everyday: Your body can go a long way without sufficient food, but it cannot operate without sufficient amounts of water. Consider this; your body has about 11 gallons of water, which accounts for 50 to 70 percent of your body weight. Your blood consists of 85 percent, your muscles 80 percent and your brain 75 percent.
Simply put, it’s crucial that you try and maintain a high level of water intake in your system. The hard part though is maintaining a consistent consumption amount that will take some fine-tuning. Certain circumstances such as age, activity level and climate can vary the amount you consume.