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Just Add Water

by Beth on May 20th, 2024

Over the years, I’ve learned that any time I feel a headache coming on, if I drink water, it almost always goes away. Headaches are one of the many ways dehydration can negatively impact our physical and mental health.

Dehydration can lead to lower blood pressure. When this happens your heart rate increases to maintain blood flow, which can strain your cardiovascular system. It also causes the headache. Dehydration puts stress on your kidneys, impairs muscle function, can lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke, and negatively impacts digestion and nutrient absorption.

Dehydration also affects mental health. It has been linked to anxiety, depression, fatigue, difficulty focusing, and confusion. Not drinking enough water can cause a decrease in the mood regulating hormone serotonin. One study of over 3,000 adults found those who drank more water had a lower risk of anxiety and depression. Another study found when people drank less water than usual, they felt less happy and more tense. Dehydration can cause neurons to die off, which negatively impacts memory and cognition. This can happen quickly, which is why people lost in the desert often make poor decisions.

How much water we need depends on age, weight, climate, and activity level. Rather than trying to drink a specific amount of water each day, focus on drinking water throughout the day. I start my day with a big glass of water to help my body recover from overnight dehydration. Sometimes when you have a hunger craving you are actually thirsty. That’s because the hunger center and thirst center are very close to one another in the brain. If you have a craving, drink a glass of water first to see if that satisfies it.

In addition to water, coffee and tea, especially green tea, are healthy beverages that can help you stay hydrated. They both have high levels of polyphenols and anti-oxidants that contribute to health and longevity. Consuming coffee or green tea regularly may reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and dementia.

Drinking plenty of water is a simple thing that is so important for your physical and mental health. Making sure to drink enough water, coffee, or tea throughout the day is an easy step that you can take to positively impact your well-being. As summer approaches it is even more critical to make sure you are staying hydrated!

From → Health, Well-being

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