Hydration and the Brain
By Nicole Gould, RDN, CLT
Our brain cells rely heavily on proper hydration. Water influences cerebral blood flow, delivers nutrients to the brain, removes toxins, normalizes blood pressure, and is necessary for the brain to function properly. Recent literature suggests that even mild dehydration – a body water loss of 1-2% – can impair cognitive functions like attentiveness, critical thinking, and memory. The simple fact is, if you are not properly hydrated, your brain suffers. If you are concerned about the health of your brain and optimizing your cognition, drinking water should be at the top of your priority list.
How much do you need?
Though specific water requirements vary by age, weight, activity level, and medications, a general minimum requirement is about 5 – 6 cups (40-48 ounces) per day. Sure, you could drink this much and survive, but if you are looking to better your health and your cognitive function, doing the bare minimum isn’t going to bring about improvements. Start by drinking half your body weight, in ounces. Brain health experts suggest aiming for 8 – 10 cups (or more if active) for those looking for cognitive benefits.
Tips to Increase Your Water Intake
- Start every morning with a full glass (or two) of water. Before you have coffee, tea, or anything else, finish at least 1 glass of pure water.
- Keep a water tally sheet. Every time you have a glass, mark it off.
- Set alarms throughout the day or make non-negotiable times to drink water, so you drink even if you aren’t thirsty.
- Get a container or pitcher that holds 64 ounces (or your daily requirement) to keep on the counter or in the fridge. Challenge yourself to finish the pitcher every day.
- Keep a reusable bottle of water with you wherever you go. If it’s by you, you are more likely to drink it.
- If you go for a walk or a drive, take water with you.
- Drink a glass with each meal and snack. If you eat, you drink water.
- Add a natural punch of flavor to your water by adding cucumber slices, fresh herbs, or a squeeze of lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit.
Make a conscious effort to increase your water intake for a few days. Eventually, drinking water will become a habit that you won’t even have to think about – and your brain will thank you.
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Thank you so much for the loving care and compassion you showed to our mother and to us during her stay and death. We know, she was not the most compliant person, buy you showed her the same loving care no matter what. We were blessed to have her in your care. You are truly all angels. Thank you again!
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Thanks to the staff for your ongoing care of my Dad. Your patience, kindness and caring for Dad help my Mom and I rest easy knowing he is in good hands at all times. Thanks for everything you do for him!
Every time my family visits each week for their porch visit mom looks FABULOUS! You and your whole organization really understand what to do with the residents and I have seen an amazing change. You are a blessing to our family.
Thank you also for the very touching and beautiful memorial service and luncheon honoring Mom and Dad. It meant a lot to us to have all of you share your remembrances of them.
Marianne & family
We greatly appreciate all that you have done for my Dad and for us. Your compassion, dedication, and gentle ways were a tremendous help. No one ever said to us, “It will be okay,” instead you said “We’ll help you.”
Alzheimer’s and dementia are formidable foes and they strip the individuals stricken of all of their dignity, yet you and your staff work diligently to reinstate the dignity and you do it quite successfully.
This is to thank you and all the Kemper staff who organized the memorial service last Friday. The content was perfectly appropriate and many of the participants expressed compliments to the kitchen staff for the great luncheon.