What Does Water Do For The Brain?
Water makes up three-quarters of your brain. Hydrate yourself for sharper thinking, stronger memory, and a healthier brain. This is how you do it.
Every bodily function depends on water. Furthermore, the next ground-breaking study reveals just how important proper hydration is for the healthiest possible brain function. These cognitive benefits are just a drink of water away if you want to enjoy improved focus and concentration, greater memory, and clearer thinking. Here's what you need to know to improve the health of your brain by drinking.
Does water help your brain?
Water is crucial for regulating hormone levels, including the production of neurotransmitters and reducing cortisol. It also safeguards the brain and spinal cord by maintaining necessary fluid levels. Additionally, water supports the creation of new brain cells and the health of existing ones, ensuring their proper function and longevity. It helps eliminate brain toxins and waste products. Moreover, water is essential for good blood flow, delivering vital nutrients, minerals, and oxygen to the brain.
When we don’t drink enough water, these critical brain functions are compromised, which is why dehydration is linked to deteriorating brain health. Experts in neuroscience and brain health suggest increasing water intake to bolster cognitive abilities like learning, concentration, and attention.
How much of the brain is water?
Water is a significant part of your body and its organs, often more than you might think. It accounts for up to 90% of your total body weight. Here’s a breakdown:
- Skin Hydration: Over 60% of your skin’s composition is water.
- Muscle Composition: Your muscles contain nearly 80% water.
- Lung Hydration: More than 70% of your lungs are made up of water.
- Bone Water Content: Around 30% of your bones are water.
Water is a crucial element in these organs and systems, playing a critical role in their optimal functioning. This is especially true for your brain, which is composed of nearly 75% water. Maintaining proper hydration is essential for the health and efficiency of these body parts.
3 ways drinking more water benefits your brain
You'll experience improved psychological well-being and a better mood
Adequate hydration is essential for the production and proper function of mood-regulating hormones and neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. Research has shown that even moderate dehydration can negatively affect mood, resulting in decreased happiness and increased mental health concerns. Furthermore, dehydration can raise cortisol levels, causing anxiety, tension, and irritability. Without proper management, elevated cortisol can lead to significant brain health issues, including the loss of brain cells, reduced brain size, and disrupted brain synapses, potentially causing social withdrawal and isolation.
You'll think and focus better
Water is essential for the communication between brain cells, the removal of harmful toxins and waste, and the delivery of vital nutrients to the brain. When hydration levels decrease, these functions deteriorate, leading to cognitive decline. Adequate hydration is associated with:
- Enhanced Decision-Making: Quicker and more effective decision-making abilities.
- Concentration Boost: Improved ability to concentrate and better short-term memory retention.
- Academic Achievement: Higher scores in educational assessments.
- Mental Clarity: Increased focus and reduced mental exhaustion.
- Cognitive Health: Overall stronger cognitive performance, including heightened alertness, reduced confusion, and better learning capabilities.
You'll fall asleep faster (and sleep deeper)
Sleep is not just about getting some rest. It is also a time when your brain repairs itself, cleans out harmful substances, and creates new brain cells. This is how sleeping enough can improve your brain health in many ways, such as:
- A stronger memory
- More clarity, attention, and focus
- Better mental health and mood
- Quicker reactions
- More balanced brain chemicals and hormones
But many people have trouble sleeping well. A global survey showed that British adults had the worst sleep quality and quantity in the world, followed by Canada, Ireland, and the United States.
Drinking more water can help you sleep better. Your body's water levels affect your internal clock, your body heat, your metabolism, your hormones, and other functions that are related to sleep health. Studies suggest that this may explain why dehydrated people tend to have shorter sleep cycles.
How to stay hydrated
What are the signs and symptoms of dehydration?
Even minimal dehydration, as slight as 1%, can have an impact on your brain’s performance. The typical indicators of dehydration can vary from person to person, but they often include:
- Concentrated Urine: A dark yellow color or infrequent urination.
- Headaches: Experiencing head pain.
- Dryness: Feeling dryness in the eyes, skin, or mouth.
- Mood Fluctuations: Mood changes, such as feeling nervous or irritable.
- Energy Level Changes: A sense of tiredness or fatigue, or a decrease in mental sharpness and alertness.
How much water should you drink?
Strive to consume 2-3 liters of water daily. For each alcoholic or caffeinated drink you have, which can cause dehydration, compensate with an additional serving of water. Keep in mind that your individual hydration needs will differ based on factors such as your level of physical activity and lifestyle habits. For example, athletes engaging in intense workouts will need significantly more water each day compared to those with a less active lifestyle.
Read more: How much water should you drink a day?
Hydration strategies to get more fluids into your body
To ensure you’re getting enough water, consider these strategies for staying hydrated:
- Morning Hydration: Begin your day with a glass of water to replenish fluids lost during sleep and kick-start your hydration.
- Routine Reminders: Set reminders to drink water at key points throughout the day, such as before meals or during breaks. Alternatively, carry a 2-liter bottle with you and aim to finish it by day’s end.
- Enhance Water Flavor: If you don’t enjoy plain water, add a touch of flavor with natural ingredients like mint leaves or lemon juice, or infuse your water with cucumber or watermelon slices for a spa-like experience.