4 Ways Hydration Can Affect Mental Well Being
75% of the human body is composed of water, making H2O vital to carry out our everyday functions.
Most health and wellness books state that adults should aim to drink 2-2.5 liters of water each day. This range varies depending on many external factors such as temperature and physical activity.
Although water is necessary for our body to function, the majority of people do not consume enough of it. This happens for a variety of reasons - some people forget, others don't like the taste of chlorinated water, or simply they are not thirsty enough.
Dehydration is common even though studies show that chronic dehydration causes negative health outcomes. For example, being 1% dehydrated can cause a 5% decrease in cognitive functions. With 2% dehydration, one may experience more obvious cognitive impacts such as memory loss, mood disruption, and trouble making math computations.
When your body is chronically dehydrated, the repercussions can be more severe and the lack of water can ultimately lead to brain cells shrinking in size and mass.
Studies on mental health awareness indicate that dehydration is responsible for more than slowing down our cognitive abilities. In fact, studies demonstrate that there is a link between water intake and mood.
Here are 4 ways hydration can affect your mental wellbeing:
1. Proper Hydration Limits Anxiety
Although dehydration is not the main cause of anxiety, dehydration can increase the risk of experiencing anxiety. When the body is dehydrated, the brain automatically triggers a stress response. So, if you’re looking for practical ways to combat anxiety, here’s a tip: drink plenty of healthy water!
2. Dehydration and Depression
Depression is a mood disorder that - amongst other things - involves persistent sadness, loss of interest, loss of energy, lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness, and difficulty sleeping. Studies demonstrate that symptoms associated with dehydration are similar to those of depression. Staying hydrated can boost energy, motivation, and happiness levels and therefore help minimize (or get rid of) those uncomfortable depressive feelings.
3. Lack of Water Hinders Serotonin Production
A long-term imbalance of serotonin levels (i.e. the “happiness chemical”) can lead to serious mood disorders such as depression. In order to produce serotonin, the body needs to employ a great amount of water. This is because serotonin is created by the body in the form of the amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid is transported across the blood-brain barrier in order to be converted into serotonin.
However, when we’re not hydrated enough, we aren’t able to get enough tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier where it will be converted into serotonin. As a result, dehydration and the lack of a sufficient amount of serotonin can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, sadness, inadequacy, and irritability.
4. Dehydration Increases Tension and Stress
When you are dehydrated, your body cannot perform all of its functions efficiently and, in turn, starts producing a stress response that affects your mental health. As MD Laura Lewis Mantell states, “stress is what we experience when our brain and body try to cope with a challenge, danger, or uncertainty by setting in motion a host of physical responses, such as a faster heart rate and soaring adrenaline, to prepare us to take action”.
When your heart beats faster and you experience an adrenaline rush, your adrenal glands produce cortisol (which is also known as the stress hormone). What’s more is that stress can lead to further dehydration. As your adrenal glands produce more cortisol, they also diminish the production of aldosterone (a hormone that is responsible for regulating fluids and electrolytes within your body). As a consequence, when the production of aldosterone is decreased, your body can feel even more dehydrated.
In support of your mental health, we encourage you to take a closer look at your hydration levels and discover the mental benefits of drinking water. Oftentimes anxiety, stress, and depression are caused by other factors, but other times, they are a simple consequence of dehydration.
But is all water good for hydration? No. Tap water, bottled water, and reverse osmosis water all present their own dangers - whether its chlorine, heavy metals, microplastics, or even lack of minerals. Santevia creates affordable clean, alkaline, mineralized water to support your health and mental wellbeing.