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How can dehydration affect our bodies, brains and behaviour?

First things first, what are the symptoms of dehydration and how do I know when I’m dehydrated?

The following is a list of symptoms from the NHS that indicate dehydration. If you are experiencing these symptoms, then you are likely to be dehydrated:

  • feeling thirsty
  • dark yellow and strong smelling urine
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • feeling tired
  • dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • peeing little, and fewer than 4 times a day

Interestingly, and more specific to the brain, dehydration can affect the way we behave; decreasing our mood and reducing our brain performance. A study in 2012 on a group of women showed that changes in hydration can affect your ability to concentrate, lead to headaches and even alter your mood.

How do I prevent dehydration and how to keep hydrated?

  •  Aim for 2 litres of fluid a day; preferably water. Other drinks like tea and coffee have caffeine in which can cause dehydration, so these are best avoided.
  • Spread your fluid out through the day, rather than just drinking with meals.
  • Get a water bottle that has a measure on it so you can keep track of how much you are drinking.
  • Avoid alcohol – alcohol intake can lead to dehydration
  • Increase fluid take if you are exercising, spending a lot of time in hot weather or experiencing vomiting and diarrhoea. You can also purchase re-hydration sachets that replace the salts you lose in these situations.

Hope you have found this blog useful and don’t forget keep hydrated for better brain performance and overall well being!