Do you drink little water? Memory and mood could be affected. The effects of dehydration, in fact, do not only affect the body but also the brain and cognitive function, as emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the journal Nutrients (Zhang et al, Nutrients, 2021).
Why it is important to stay hydrated
Water makes up about 75% of our body mass. Water is essential in various processes, such as regulating body temperature and maintaining the balance of electrolytes. If the intake of an excessive amount of water is very difficult to find, the conditions of dehydration are more common. When we introduce little fluids into our body we can experience headaches and fatigue and, as dehydration worsens, also gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and kidney problems. However, little is known about what happens at the level of cognitive function when you drink little water.
The effects of dehydration on memory and mood
To understand the effects of dehydration on the brain and mood, the researchers of the study we are talking about today developed an experiment. 76 healthy adults aged 18 - 23 years old were recruited. Young people were asked to limit their water intake for one day. The next day the volunteers were divided into three groups. The first group had to rehydrate by drinking, within a period of about ten minutes, a glass of water, the second two glasses of water and the third 4 glasses of water. At the beginning, during and at the end of the experiment, the volunteers underwent visits, examinations and tests to assess their state of health, mood and cognitive function. What emerged was that the dehydration that occurred after a day of water restriction led to an alteration of episodic memory, which is the long-term memory of all the events of our life. Not only that, self-esteem and the ability to concentrate were also decreased while the feeling of fatigue, tiredness and depression increased. However, all of these symptoms were temporary and disappeared once the study participants rehydrated. The intake of water made it possible to improve the speed with which information are processed, memory and mood and counteracted confusion and depression. In case of dehydration, drinking 4 glasses of water allowed for better recovery.
Hence the importance of staying hydrated, not only for the well-being of the body but also for the brain and one's emotional state. And this applies to all ages. Drinking water, herbal teas or eating foods rich in water ensure active cognitive function and protect memory and mood.