We’ve all been told at one point or another that we need to drink more water.
Whether it’s from our doctor, a diet and fitness infomercial, a health and lifestyle magazine, or from our mothers.
We’ve all heard it. “Drink more water. ”
I have a headache. “Drink more water.”
I have a virus. “Make sure to drink plenty of water.”
I want to lose weight. “It’s important to drink enough water, as thirst can often be mistaken for hunger.”
This list goes on and on.
But other than the physical health benefits of drinking more water, what are the mental health benefits?
According to a study, people who drink less water have a higher risk of anxiety and depression. In fact, researchers discovered that when water intake was decreased, the mood was adversely affected. They found that those that drank less water were less calm, more overwhelmed, frustrated, and had more feelings of dissatisfaction. Whereas the individuals in the study that drank an appropriate amount of water were significantly calmer and more satisfied.
Why is this?
Well for starters, roughly 60% of the human body is water. 60% being the average, as the percentage can vary from around 45%- 75% depending on a person’s age, sex, and level of hydration. The human brain alone is thought to be made up of about 75% water. This means, that when we are dehydrated, not only does it impact our body, our blood flow, and circulation, but it also affects our brain.
When the body isn’t getting enough water, the brain isn’t getting enough water, which can alter how we think and feel. Blood flow is lowered, which leads to less oxygen being available to travel to the rest of the body, and the brain. This is turn, causes a dip in mood, more anxiety, depression, impaired cognitive function, and even delirium. In fact, severe dehydration can cause us to lose consciousness, end up in a coma, and potentially even lead to death.
Luckily, the majority of us aren’t so severely dehydrated, that we need to be concerned with losing consciousness, but we could be dehydrated enough to make us feel irritable, fatigued, and of course, thirsty.
One of the first and most obvious signs that you need to be drinking more water, is pretty easy to guess: Thirst.
Other commons signs of dehydration are:
Increase in symptoms of mental illness
So how much water should we be drinking every day?
Health experts generally say to aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses, of water a day. Which is about 2 liters, or a half a gallon.
That being said, this may need to be increased based on your weight, exercise levels, whether or not you are sick, dieting, pregnant, or have a chronic health condition that requires more hydration, etc.
The bottom line: Drink more water.
An easy way to start is by drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning, then drinking two or three glasses between meals. One helpful way to reach this goal is to start carrying a water bottle in your backpack, car, or purse. If water is too plain for you, try adding a splash of lemon, or add cucumber, melon, berries, and even mint leave.
So make the effort to drink more water, and reap the many health benefits. Cheers!
For more information on the benefits of drinking water, you can check out the following website: