Part 3: Dehydration and the Mind
Few of us would equate dehydration with reduction in our brain function, but it’s a reality. Your brain is 85 percent water, and when your fluids are depleted, brain tissue has been shown to shrink, which adversely affects the smooth function of minds.
You may have experienced one of the most common signs of dehydration – headache – but there are many less obvious ones. For instance, studies have shown that dehydration influences mood, leading to an increase in anxiety, irritability and fatigue. In 2012, University of Connecticut researchers found that mild dehydration causes adverse mood fluctuations when your body has lost just 1.5 percent of its water volume. To put that number in context: you experience a nearly similar water volume loss (between 1 and 2 percent) when thirst sets in.
Of equal if not greater concern is evidence linking dehydration to a decrease in cognitive ability. Dehydrated individuals have trouble thinking clearly, their reaction times are slower and their ability to process information at the same time as they store it, what’s commonly called working memory, is stunted. This, in turn, inhibits reasoning and comprehension skills.
All this because millions of us--men, women and children--are not drinking enough fluids. And, worse, we are in the dark as to how best to remedy the problem.