The liquid of life and mental health – The importance of staying hydrated
Water, water everywhere and it must be imbibed. Medical doctors encourage patients to drink plenty of water each day to keep the body functioning well. But the health benefits of drinking adequately goes beyond physical health. As it turns out, the mind also benefits from proper hydration.
WebMD verifies that dehydration can cause dry mouth, swollen tongue, fainting, confusion and even death in extreme cases. When symptoms result in fainting, fever, seizures or difficulty breathing, emergency services are required for recovery.
In the matter of the mind, researchers at the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory hosted two studies looking at the mental effects of dehydration.
“Our thirst sensation doesn’t really appear until we are 1 [percent] or 2 percent dehydrated. By then dehydration is already setting in and starting to impact how our mind and body perform,” finds Lawrence E. Armstrong, a lead of the study and expert in hydration.
Armstrong and his colleagues looked at 51 healthy and active people participating in activity on a treadmill after proper hydration the night before. Researchers induced mild hydration then tested the subjects on “vigilance, concentration, reaction time, learning, memory, and reasoning.”
Mood took a dive for both male and female subjects. Females, especially, dealt with anxiety, tension and fatigue when dehydrated.
Armstrong and his peers were unsure why mild dehydration could cause such discernible effects so quickly. While research is ongoing, the team suspects the brain sends a warning to the body upon sensing dehydration. Armstrong and other experts recommend patients drink the equivalent of two liters of water each day for mental and physical health.
Many people across the world don’t have access to clean water. Joshua Gowin, Ph.D., notes that nearly 1 billion people do not have access to water. He also said approximately 38,000 children under the age of 5 die each week due to a lack of uncontaminated water.
“Dehydration affects all people, and staying properly hydrated is just as important for those who work all day at a computer as it is for marathon runners, who can lose up to 8 percent of their body weight as water when they compete,” Armstrong iterates.
Sovereign Health Group takes the holistic approach to mental health care, ensuring patients are well in both body and mind. Medical and mental health professionals work together for a solution in each case. Call us to learn more about our programs for mental and behavioral health.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz, Sovereign Health Group writer