Hydration is incredibly important! Our bodies are up to 60% water and we are constantly losing water throughout the day through our sweat, breathing and urine1. Dehydration is incredibly common with up to 75% of Americans being chronically dehydrated2.
When we are dehydrated we can experience loss of mental clarity or brain fog, headaches, lethargy or tiredness3 and adequate water intake has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety4. Adequate hydration is associated with improved mood. Optimum hydration is absolutely crucial for our brain and mental health. Our brain is 75% water5! Water intake is also critical for our gut health. When we’re dehydrated there isn’t enough water in our stool to move it through our digestive system1. This can lead to constipation and symptoms such as bloating and gas1.
The good news is it is easy to ensure adequate hydration of our bodies. While there are different ideas online of how many glasses of water we should drink a day the best way to tell is by listening to the signs of our body. The colour of our urine is the best indicator for dehydration. We want our urine to be clear, or a light straw/yellow colour – this means we are drinking enough water and are adequately hydrated. If our urine is darker than this it is time to drink some more water1. If you’re not going to the toilet enough to even tell what colour your urine is, it may definitely be a good idea to try drinking more water!
Another thing to consider are the foods we eat! When we eat whole plant foods like celery, cucumber, watermelon, broccoli, spinach, carrots, lettuce and strawberries they are over 80% water by weight – a great way to increase your water intake1!
So to sum it all up: drink water regularly throughout the day to ensure light or clear-coloured urine. Always make sure to drink when you’re thirsty and in hot climates or after sweaty exercise. Make sure to drink extra water to replace the water lost through sweat.
I recommend getting a large water bottle and taking it with you throughout the day so you can easily stay hydrated. Some other options for when it’s cold are having some nice herbal tea, or some warm veggie broth.
This is one of the easiest things we can do to begin to improve our gut health – and mental health!
- Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(8):439-458. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x
- Chronic Dehydration More Common Than You Think. www.cbsnews.com. July 2, 2013. https://www.cbsnews.com/miami/news/chronic-dehydration-more-common-than-you-think/
- Wittbrodt MT, Millard-Stafford M. Dehydration Impairs Cognitive Performance: A Meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2018;50(11):2360-2368. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001682
- Haghighatdoost F, Feizi A, Esmaillzadeh A, et al. Drinking plain water is associated with decreased risk of depression and anxiety in adults: Results from a large cross-sectional study. World J Psychiatry. 2018;8(3):88-96. Published 2018 Sep 20. doi:10.5498/wjp.v8.i3.88
- Zhang N, Du SM, Zhang JF, Ma GS. Effects of Dehydration and Rehydration on Cognitive Performance and Mood among Male College Students in Cangzhou, China: A Self-Controlled Trial. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(11):1891. Published 2019 May 29. doi:10.3390/ijerph16111891
- Barry M Popkin, Kristen E D’Anci, Irwin H Rosenberg, Water, hydration, and health, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 68, Issue 8, 1 August 2010, Pages 439–458, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x