One-two-three-four-five big glasses of water a day – that’s one of the new healthy habits I set in motion this year, only to find that it’s even healthier than I expected. Turns out generous hydration actually makes my brain work better (well, technically, lack of water dims the light in my brain, but it makes sense both ways). Now that’s what I call a double benefit (the other one is that it’s also good for losing weight).
Multiple studies show that our bodies need lots of water for optimal performance. We are, after all, composed of 55 – 60% water (women have slightly less than men because we are genetically programmed for more fat deposits – drat!). When we feel thirsty, our bodies are already dehydrated by 2-3%. But our brains suffer cognitive impairment at only 1% dehydration. So it’s smart – literally – to drink more water than our thirst indicates. Weird that our brains don’t send thirst signals at 1%, but that’s what the science says.
A 2013 study of 40 military pilots (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23820354) showed that their performance dropped significantly when they lost 2-3% of their body weight due to dehydration. That’s a pretty good marker and certainly enough evidence to convince me to keep guzzling all day long. What’s good for my cognition is good for my ADHD.
Back in the old days, I could hardly force myself to drink water straight up. I needed some kind of flavor boost – like tea bags or lemons and sugar. Several years ago, we installed a reverse osmosis system at our kitchen sink which removes impurities from our well water. The “taste” of water improved drastically, so I drink ice water all day long.
I still can’t drink the highly chlorinated water served in restaurants, so in a pinch I’ll even drink bottled water. It pains me though because I try hard not to use throw-away plastic bottles (a.k.a. dinosaur bones turned to petroleum). Of course I recycle, but it’s even better to re-use my big glass at home/office.
There’s only one down side to all this water consumption. What goes in must come out. So I spend more time in the powder room (to put it delicately). Ultimately, that’s good too, since I am not crazy about inviting another kidney stone into my life. Ugh. So I’ll keep sipping and glugging and guzzling … and excusing myself in mid-sentence. At my age, when you have to go, you have to go now! And my brain is crystal clear about THAT message.