When we think about preserving our mental health, water does not often come to mind. We are more likely to focus on meditation, mindfulness, yoga, or psychotherapy. But we overlook a very simple and effective remedy to mental health problems; water!
When water level drops just 1% below the optimal level, you get headaches and feel tired. You lose between 25-30% of your energy if your body experiences a 5% drop in body fluid level and 15% drop can be fatal. The human body is made of over 70% water and the optimal functioning of the organs and systems are dependent on you staying hydrated.
Let’s examine the importance of water for your mental health:
Reduces your risk of dementia
Your brain consists of about 75% water, which should alert you that any kind of dehydration will affect your mental functioning adversely. Dehydration occurs when your body loses more water than it takes in. Losing just 1% of water can affect your concentration and result in headaches. Staying hydrated can reduce your risk of developing neurological diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
Helps in relieving depression symptoms
Dehydration cannot cause depression by itself but it can intensify the symptoms of depression and vice-versa. People who are depressed often fail to drink enough water and might drink caffeinated drinks as way to raise their energy levels, making them more dehydrated. On the other hand, dehydration decreases your body’s energy level, alters mood and memory, and affects the production of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a brain chemical that plays an essential role in the maintenance of positive mood.
Keep anxiety at bay
A good way to keep anxiety symptoms at bay is by drinking enough water. Caffeinated drinks and sugary beverages have been found to intensify anxiety symptoms and experts have advised cutting such substances out of your diet. A great alternative to caffeine and sugary drinks is water. Replace your daily coffee drink with water and you will observe that symptoms such as restlessness, racing thoughts, and rapid heartbeat will reduce.
Better physical health
Living with a chronic illness can be a major stressor and increase your risk of developing a mental health disorder. Staying hydrated can prevent kidney stones, keep your weight in check, maintain regular bowel movement, keep your heart healthy, and more. Your physical and mental health are connected and if you are in top shape physically, you give your mental health a fighting chance.
You can’t rely on thirst alone to drink water. By the time you start feeling thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. You can set reminders on your phone to remind you to drink water every hour. Gradually work your way up to drinking the required amount of water daily – 2 liters per day – which can be exceeded on hot days or after strenuous activity.