It’s well known that in addition to eating a well-balanced diet, drinking enough water to keep ourselves hydrated is essential for keeping our bodies healthy. At extreme levels, dehydration can have drastic consequences including heat strokes, seizures and even death; but did you know that even milder degrees of dehydration can affect us?
Recently, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology published the results of the analysis of data collected from various studies on the effects of dehydration on cognitive function. The results of this meta-analysis concluded that dehydration can lead to decreased cognitive abilities as it has been shown to affect the study participants’ abilities to concentrate on tasks that required significant attention. The study participants were also found to have diminished problem-solving and coordination skills, and that these effects had increased the more water was lost.
Although there’s no golden number to determine how much fluid loss is enough to have these cognitive effects, researchers found that a loss of two per cent in water weight caused significant impairments in the participants’ physical abilities. This means that if someone weighing 100 pounds loses two pounds in water weight, they could start noticing these effects. The researchers considered this figure to be an important measure in related studies and tried to assess whether the effects of this amount of fluid loss also affected cognitive abilities in a similar way.
Mindy Millard-Stafford, a professor in Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Biological Sciences and the principal investigator of this study said in a press release for the institute that fluid loss of two per cent is not hard to achieve:
“With an hour of moderately intense activity, with a temperature in the mid-80s (around 29 degrees Celsius), and moderate humidity, it’s not uncommon to lose a little over two pounds of water.”
As sweltering summer temperatures in Qatar far exceed 29 degrees, what steps can be taken to keep hydrated?
Average, healthy individuals should aim to gradually consume one to 1.5 litres of water a day. This amount can vary depending on the temperature. Generally, healthy individuals can rely on their thirst cues to help them assess how much water they need.
Your daily fluid intake doesn’t just depend on the water you drink. The foods you choose can also play a role in making sure you stay well hydrated. Choosing fruits and vegetables with a high water content such as watermelons and cucumbers can help you stay on top of your fluid needs and also give you a much needed cool down in the summer heat.
Drinking tea and/or coffee can help too as contrary to popular belief, these morning pick-me-ups will not hinder your hydration efforts and in fact, can count towards your fluid intake. Although Caffeine is a diuretic, its effects are not enough to counter the hydrating qualities of these beverages
So drink up, stay focused and stay safe while having fun in the sun!