Summer's high temps are a friendly reminder to fuel your body with water. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 60% of the human body is composed of water, and the brain and heart alone are made up of 73% water. Staying hydrated is essential to your overall well-being, but it's particularly critical to brain function.
As you get older, your sense of thirst decreases and your kidneys don't conserve body water as they once did, as reported by researchers of the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina. This makes it even more important to prioritize drinking water and staying hydrated as you age.
This summer, don't forget to participate in National Hydration Day and consume plenty of fluids between and during meals. If you reside in a senior living community, talk to a staff member about ways you can prioritize hydration throughout the day. Your body - and mind - will thank you later.
Here are some of the brain benefits that come with staying hydrated:
1. Increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain
Cerebral blood flow is a crucial factor in overall mind wellness. According to "The Cerebral Circulation," the brain uses about 20% of the available oxygen to function, and it relies solely on healthy blood and oxygen flow to do so. One study found that dehydration has an impact on cerebral blood flow, which can ultimately impact overall brain function.
If you're worried about staying hydrated, frequent the water fountains and kitchen in your senior living community on a regular basis. Meet with friends during the day at the cafe so you can count on having a glass of water while you socialize.
2. Improved concentration
Without water, it can be difficult to focus throughout the day. According to Psychology Today, the brain cells rely heavily on H2O and how it reacts with other elements in the body. Without this reaction, brain cells lose efficiency and make it more difficult to concentrate.
In other words, drinking more water throughout the day can help you focus better on crossword puzzles and other mind-stimulating games. Don't forget to bring a water bottle to the next group activity!
3. Maintained memory
Much like dehydration impacts your ability to think clearly, it can also make it difficult to remember things. Various studies have shown that mild to moderate levels of dehydration can impair short-term memory.
Memory loss is associated with aging. In some instances, however, it can be preventable. Dehydration is a common problem among seniors, but it doesn't have to be. Start each day with a tall glass of water, end each day the same and carry around a water bottle throughout the day. If you're even slightly thirsty throughout the day, your brain may already be affected, according to Psychology Today.
4. Balanced mood and emotions
Proper hydration also has a major impact on how you feel. One study reported by UConn Today addressed this topic head-on, finding that even mild dehydration can alter your mood. The gender-specific test groups consisted of 25 women and 26 men, all of whom reported being healthy and moderately active. The researchers concluded that both groups experienced fatigue and difficulty concentrating, as well as changes in mood.
"Even mild dehydration that can occur during the course of our ordinary daily activities can degrade how we are feeling – especially for women, who appear to be more susceptible to the adverse effects of low levels of dehydration than men," said Harris Lieberman, one of the study's co-authors.
No matter how you're feeling, remember to keep drinking water. The researchers said that thirst sensation technically doesn't appear until dehydration has already started, so avoiding it altogether may keep you from experiencing a mood swing.
Drinking water throughout the day is critical no matter what, but it's especially important for older adults. If you're worried about becoming dehydrated this summer, talk to one of the caregivers at your senior living community for assistance with keeping water by your side at all times. Always trust your body and replenish when you need it most, but remember to continue drinking water even when you're not thirsty.
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