We have all heard several times how important is to drink water and stay hydrated during the day, but most of us are not aware of how proper hydration benefits our health, especially the brain.
All organs in the human body need water to function, and the brain is no exception. Drinking water brings great benefits to your brain function, and we will cover the most important ones below.
Water and the Brain
Most of our body is composed of water, around 60% of it, but the percentage is even great for one of the most important organs of our body, the brain, which is approximately 80% made up of water.
So, you can imagine how important water is for the brain to function. Even minor dehydration can have huge effects on brain performance, negatively impacting our memory, concentration, cognitive capacity, and leading to headaches and brain fatigue.
Benefits of hydration in your brain function
Some of the key benefits that proper hydration bring to your brain are:
Improves Concentration & Efficiency
When your brain is properly hydrated, it will work in an efficient way to make sure you stay alert and focused. Brain cells require water and other different elements to function optimally and maintain the brain’s efficiency.
When you become dehydrated, your brain suffers, and that has an immediate impact on the loss of concentration and focus.
A study  shown that even minor dehydration (less than 2%) can negatively affect the concentration in healthy young women.
Other studies [2,3] demonstrated similar results for different age groups, in which dehydration had a negative impact on the cognitive performance not only in groups more vulnerable to dehydration, like children and the elderly but also in young adults.
Sustains Memory Function
Water is an important nutrient for your brain, so even a small decrease in water (like 2%) can hurt your brain and memory function.
If you are dehydrated, it becomes more difficult for your brain to memorize information and recall long-term memories, so it has an impact on your short-term and long-term memory.
There are several studies [4,5] that demonstrated the negative impact of dehydration on memory performance not only in adults but in children also. Even mild dehydration harms working memory and increases brain fatigue , so is extremely important to drink water regularly and avoid dehydration.
Balances Moods & Emotions
A benefit of drinking water regularly is that keeps your brain cells active and helps to regulate the chemical processes in your brain. This is fundamental to help us to manage stress and anxiety, so if we are dehydrated, it becomes harder to manage our emotions and maintain a positive mood throughout the day.
Improves Attention Span
One of the negative effects of dehydration on your brain is that reduces your attention span. Not drinking enough water will make you lose your focus, and that will negatively affect your performance at work or at school.
Some studies have shown that students who drink water regularly noticed an improvement in their attention span. Ideally, you should drink some water every 45 minutes to 1 hour, to make sure that you are properly hydrated during the day, and are able to maintain your attention span when needed.
Drinking water has a calming effect on the brain that helps us have a good night of sleep. Water consumption leads to a blood flow increase to the brain that increases oxygenation, which produces the calming effect that is beneficial for our sleep.
Prevents and Relieves Headaches
Drinking water has benefits against headaches in two different ways.
The second way that drinking water can be beneficial against headaches is that it can relieve the symptoms. Some studies [10,11] have shown that drinking more water greatly improved the headaches of participants of these studies.
Staying hydrated throughout the day is the best way to make sure your brain performs at its best. Proper hydration is great for your entire body and brings lots of benefits to your brain function, so you make sure you drink enough water during the day.
A common rule is 8×8, ie, eight 8-ounces cups of water, which makes half a gallon (approximately 1 liter) of water per day. But more important than counting the cups, is to make sure your drink water and make it a habit of your daily routine.
Take into consideration that some beverages, like coffee and alcohol, can make you dehydrated, so you should drink more water to compensate. On the positive side, herbal teas count to your daily water intake, so you can mix it up.