By Rachel Ellen Green, CPT
We all want to have a better memory and be sharper. The first place to look is at your hydration levels. During the summer, it’s difficult to maintain proper hydration levels. Water is necessary for optimal daily function for all parts of our body including our brain. If you want to improve your working memory, attention span, mood, energy, and overall health, drink more water.
New studies are showing hydration may improve brain performance. As we age, our water stores decrease due to lower muscle mass and slower organ functioning. Our hormonal signals that trigger thirst and demand water intake become less effective. In a 2017 study, mild dehydration was shown to severely impact mood. The study displayed a large impairment on cognitive function due to dehydration in children and older adults; especially during longer, more difficult tasks. The study concluded attention was most significantly affected by hydration levels.
According to psychcongress.com, a 2% loss of fluids in the body lead to impaired decision making, decreased motor coordination and executive function – which includes map recognition, proofreading, mental math, and grammatical reasoning. Heat and exercise have a huge impact on water stores. Exercise alone can cause a fluid loss of 1-6 percent. It’s important to drink plenty of water during exercise, outdoor activities, and higher temperatures.
Adults who are more susceptible to diseases leading to cognitive decline should pay attention to hydration levels. To ensure you are consuming enough water throughout the day, strive to consume half your body weight in ounces of water. You can also follow the 8×8 rule, which is drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. To avoid overhydration, try drinking coconut water, fruit juices, and sports drinks for electrolytes.
Often times, your body is already dehydrated before showing symptoms like headaches, dry mouth, sluggishness, sugar cravings, and more. In addition, dehydration causes an inability to focus – making your daily tasks much harder than needed. Dehydration also leads to afternoon crashes causing you to seek sugar, caffeine, and junk food.
Benefits of proper hydration include: optimal brain function, increased metabolism, clearer skin, and reduction in afternoon cravings. In addition, research has shown increased water consumption can improve energy expenditure by an average of 96 calories per day.
Here are 6 ways you can stay hydrated:
- Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning to replenish the body after lack of water during sleep
- Switch to tea instead of coffee, soda, etc. Caffeine is a diuretic which can dehydrate you in excessive amounts.
- Drink one glass of water before and during every meal. This will help curb hunger and prep stomach for optimal digestion.
- During a workout, try consuming at least 24 ounces of water to regulate body temperature, optimize performance and replace water lost through sweat
- Limit exposure to heat and dress appropriately for weather. Wear a hat and breathable clothing to allow sweat to cool you off.
- Carry a reusable water bottle with you at all times.
Remember to maintain your hydration this Summer and beyond. You’ll get a boost in energy, focus, memory, mental wellness, and improve your overall quality of life. For more information on hydration, memory improvement, and personal fitness training, click here.
Rachel Ellen Green is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. She works at LoHi Athletic Club in Denver, CO. In addition, she conducts online strength training sessions. Her goal is to change her clients’ physical and mental health through exercise. Rachel focuses on retraining the body to create functional movement patterns and strength building. Rachel has a passion for fitness, nutrition, and helping others. Her background is in martial arts, gymnastics, kickboxing, and more. Rachel is currently pursuing her Exercise Science degree from Metropolitan State University, Denver.