How much water should you actually consume?


A balanced diet along with an adequate intake of water is considered paramount for good physical health. But did you know that not consuming enough water can take a toll on your mental health, too? “A growing body of evidence suggests that the foods and beverages we consume have an impact on our mental and physical health,” Dr Roma Kumar, co-founder and chief psychologist at Emotionally, told indianexpress.com.

She added that many cognitive abilities and mood states are influenced by water consumption. “Our brain needs to remain hydrated to maintain the balance of our hormone levels, making it extremely important to drink water,” she added.

Agreed Dr Jyoti Bala Sharma, Director, Neurology, Fortis Hospital Noida, and explained that the brain has neurotransmitters that carry messages from one part to the other. “Dehydration leads to hormonal changes which affect the functioning of these neurotransmitters. Also, it must be noted that persistent dehydration can also make a person predisposed to depression and anxiety,” she added.

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Listing the many benefits of drinking water on one’s mental health, Dr Kumar said: 

*It helps to lower cortisol, the stress hormone
*It helps maintain the fluid levels that protect the brain and spinal cord from any trauma and injury.
*It helps flush out toxins and metabolic waste that accumulates in the brain.
*Helps maintain proper blood circulation, and transports vitamins, minerals, and oxygen to the brain.
*Helps in forming new neurons, and maintain overall brain cell health.
*Adequate hydration is also needed for the body to produce hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin (chemicals that regulate our mood).
*Staying hydrated has also been linked to faster decision making and better cognitive test performance, better concentration, and enhanced short-term memory.

“Additionally, lack of water can lead to slow psychomotor responses. It can also make a person predisposed to stroke, migraine and thrombosis in veins as dehydration increases the viscosity of the blood,” Dr Bala told indianexpress.com.

Here is how not having enough water can hamper cognitive abilities (Source: Pixaby)

Symptoms of dehydration

Dark yellow urine, infrequent trips to the bathroom, headaches, dry eyes, dry skin or mouth, mood swings, fluctuations in energy levels, higher levels of mental fatigue.

But how much water should one drink?

While it is suggested to drink four to six glasses of water in a day, Dr Kumar, said that “The daily four-to-six cup rule is for people who are generally healthy. People who have thyroid, liver problems, or heart issues, or those who are taking medications that cause them to retain water, this quantity may be too much.”

Explaining the negative impact of excess water consumption, she added: “Water intoxication, also known as water poisoning, is a disruption of brain function caused by drinking too much water.” She further shared that excess water can lead to serious conditions such as “seizures, brain damage, coma, and even death, as too much water can raise the pressure inside the skull.”

With the above pointers in mind, Dr Bala suggested a few tips to keep yourself hydrated:

Tips

*Carry your water bottle everywhere.
*After coming out of the washroom, drink one glass of water.
*Keep a colour-coded water bottle to measure your water intake.

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