Water plays an essential role in all life forms and covers most of the surface of the Earth. It is so important that all living organisms contain water and need water to survive. This is true for all of us – water makes up 60% of our body weight, transporting nutrients and processes around our body. Because the body loses water through actions like sweating and peeing, it is crucial to replenish water and maintain the 60%.
Not drinking enough water is harmful to the body, and dehydration occurs when not enough water is drunk compared to water that was lost. Dehydration is more likely to affect those who are unwell (eg. fever, diarrhoea and vomiting), exercising, and exposed to the sun for long periods of time.
Dehydration has many detrimental effects, including:
- Memory loss
- Reduced cognitive and motor skills
- Increase in cortisol levels (stress)
Many people find themselves dehydrated without knowing, as losing just 1% of the body’s water content causes mild dehydration, though they are no noticeable effects. However, effects such as thirst, discomfort and fatigue begin to be exhibited.
Benefits of water
The effects of dehydration can be relieved by drinking more water. Water has many health benefits, and enables the brain’s production of hormones and neurotransmitters, which are required for the body to function.
Water is vital not only for the body, but for the brain. When hydrated, the brain’s cognitive and motor skills improve, boosting concentration and memory, while tiredness and headaches fade. This makes the brain more efficient, and in turn helps the brain perform more creatively. As a result, the brain is at its most effective when hydrated.
Can you drink ‘too much’ water?
The opposite of dehydration, overhydration is caused by drinking too much water. Overhydration occurs when the body consumes more water than it can expel, causing a deficiency in electrolytes and salt. This condition is called hyponatremia.
Its symptoms are similar to that of dehydration – headaches, and more severely, vomiting and seizures. However, overhydration is rare amongst non-endurance athletes and is not something the average person should worry about.
Drinking water is important to prevent dehydration and its effects. Mild dehydration is common, so people should stay hydrated to maintain a high level of concentration, memory and mental acuity. Doing so allows for more creativity, as the brain becomes less fatigued and more relaxed to have a better capacity to think outside of the box.