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July 24, 2018

We’ve already chatted about how water is important for our skin, but did you know that not getting enough water can affect our energy levels and brain function?

Want to run faster and remember where you left the car keys? Drink more water!

Studies have shown that not getting enough water can change your mood, ability to think clearly and complete mental tasks, your overall energy level, and your performance while exercising or participating in physical activity. (1)

‘Enough’ water is different for everyone.

Generally speaking, drinking around 8 cups of water (or 2 L) each day is a good goal. However, there are a variety of factors that influence how much water you need: (2)

  • How much you sweat (e.g., if you’re exercising)
  • The weather (you’ll lose more water if it’s hot or humid outside)
  • Where you’re located (dehydration can occur at high altitudes)
  • If you’re sick and losing fluids
  • Whether or not you’re pregnant or breastfeeding (pregnant/breastfeeding moms need more water)

Your own thirst (and the colour of your urine) will give you the most reliable indication of whether or not you need more water.

But how does drinking more water have anything to do with my energy level or mental clarity?

One of the signs that your body isn’t getting enough water is that you feel tired. (3) Your cells need water to function properly, but will quickly ‘donate’ their water if your body’s water balance shifts. (4) Dehydrated cells have a more difficult time moving toxins and waste out, cannot accept nutrients/hormones as easily, and become less capable of producing energy. (5)

The same is generally true for your brain. Without proper hydration, the balance between water and various other elements becomes disrupted and your brain cells don’t work as efficiently. (6) This decreased efficiency can show itself in many different ways.

For example:

  • You may experience mood changes
  • You might have difficulty focusing or paying attention
  • You could be more forgetful or have trouble remembering things
  • You may have difficulty performing simple calculations or solving problems.

Thankfully, these effects are temporary and normally go away after you rehydrate.

Drinking more water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated.

While drinking water is the fastest and cheapest way to increase the amount of fluid in your body, many foods also contain water that counts toward your daily intake. (2) For example, fruits like watermelon and vegetables like cucumbers contain a lot of water. Non-water beverages like milk, juice, coffee, and tea also contain water – and don’t worry too much about caffeine causing dehydration. Recent studies have shown that the ‘diuretic effect’ of coffee is more closely linked to the fact that you’re drinking a lot of something than it is to the caffeine in particular. (7)

You can technically drink too much water… but it’s very unlikely.

It’s technically possible to drink too much water, which results in a life-threatening condition called hyponatremia. (2) Certain people (e.g., long-distance or high-endurance athletes) may be somewhat more at risk of hyponatremia, but this condition is fairly rare among average healthy adults. Drink up!

  1. https://www.news-medical.net/news/20120218/Even-mild-dehydration-affects-mood-energy-level-and-ability-to-think-clearly.aspx
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/energy-and-fatigue/9-tips-to-boost-your-energy-naturally
  4. https://sciencing.com/happens-cells-dehydrated-23904.html
  5. https://sites.google.com/site/mcen4117deydration/dehydration-at-the-cellular-level
  6. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/you-illuminated/201010/why-your-brain-needs-water
  7. https://www.sciencealert.com/does-coffee-actually-make-you-dehydrated

 


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