dehydration

  1. Not drinking water? Your brain may turn to mush

    Another heat wave is about to sweep through the American West... and Japan just experienced its hottest day in recorded history.

    Here in the Northeast – neither a barren desert nor a tropical climate – it’s been so hot and humid that when you take one step out the front door, your face starts dripping.

    Even if your mouth doesn’t feel as dry as a bone… chances are, you’re dehydrated.

    Now, we know that our bodies are supposed to be comprised of up to 60 percent water. And not having enough hydration can mess with our body temperature regulation… digestion… and waste elimination.

    But a new study shows that there’s something else at stake when you’re losing more water than you’re taking in: your brain.

    Believe it or not, it should be pretty watery up there in your skull – as much as 73 percent water in your brain tissue !

    And when the folds of your brain start to dry up like ripples in the sand of a desert dune, it doesn’t just make your head a little fuzzy. It can put you in the crosshairs for an accident.

    Think about it. When you’re driving, you use some of the most important skills you’ve got: reaction time, divided attention (paying attention to more than one thing at once), and coordination.

    And those are three factors that are compromised the most when the summer heat – or even a little exertion – sucks the water right out of you.

    It doesn’t even take a severe level of dehydration… or getting “dried out” over a long period of time… because in this latest meta-analysis, researchers found that you can become severely impaired after losing just 2 percent of your body’s mass in the form of water.

    And it could happen more easily than you might think.

    Researchers say that you could lose as much as 2 pounds of fluid – that’s 1 percent if you weigh 200 pounds -- after just an hour of activity of moderate intensity on a day that’s in the mid-80s with moderate humidity.

    But if you’re active a little longer… and the mercury and humidity start to rise… you could get into real trouble, real quick.

    When that happens, you DON’T want to be behind the wheel (or operating any heavy machinery, for that matter).

    So, don’t let it happen in the first place! Here are four tips to keep your plump, juicy brain from turning into a raisin this summer:

    1. Bring a nice, cool bottle of water with you to have in the garden, on the links, AND in the car. Sip from it regularly, but don’t guzzle – too much hydration too quickly could waterlog your brain.
    2. Don’t cut sodium out. You lose salt when you sweat, and your body needs some salt in order to retain the water you’re drinking.
    3. Limit exertion to the coolest times of day – early morning and late afternoon to early evening – to limit loss of fluid from sweating.
    4. Avoid caffeinated drinks, which have a diuretic effect.

    And for pity’s sake, if you’ve got an air conditioner, turn it on! If you don’t have one… and can’t get one… don’t hesitate to go to one of those “cooling centers” that some cities set up this time of year.

  2. Dehydrated? Your brain could suffer

    News flash: Exercise is as good for your brain as it is for your body.

    In fact, study after study has shown that staying active can get blood flowing to every corner of your gray matter... beef up your brain thickness... and even ward off dementia.

    It's practically a "fountain of youth" for your cognitive function!

    But before you lace up those walking shoes, be sure to visit a drinking fountain.

    Because according to a new study, you can't reap all of the cognitive benefits of exercise if you're not gulping down enough water.

    In the study, which was presented at a recent meeting of the American Physiological Society, researchers divided older folks who participated in a bicycling event on a warm day into two groups: Before the ride, participants either hydrated normally or didn't drink enough.

    Now, since we know that exercise gives your brain a boost, we'd expect that the participants' thinking skills would be a little sharper after they crossed the finish line. And sure enough, those in the normal hydration group performed BETTER on a timed thinking skills test after the ride than they had before it.

    But those in the dehydration group got no such boost. Their scores on the thinking test were pretty much the same post-ride as they were pre-ride.

    Without enough water, it was as if the cognitive benefits of exercise had all but "dried up"!

    Now, there's normally a lot of water flowing through your blood. But when you don't drink enough water AND you sweat water out during exercise, your blood thickens.

    And since your heart has to work extra hard to pump thick blood through, the theory is that dehydration means that oxygen-rich blood can't gush to every nook and cranny of your gray matter as freely.

    As a result, your brain simply can't function as well.

    Now, you probably already know that you should be drinking at least eight glasses of water a day -- but when you exercise, you need to be drinking even more to replace what you've lost.

    You can lose up to FOUR GLASSES of water during a vigorous workout!

    And since our “thirst perception” tends to dull with age, you can't rely on feeling thirsty to motivate you to drink.

    In fact, you may not FEEL thirsty until you've lost 2 to 3 percent of your body's water… but physical and mental impairment starts when you've lost only 1 percent.

    So, drink up, my friend!

    Plain water is your best bet for hydration – not one of those sweetened or flavored “sports” waters. And stay away from caffeinated and alcoholic drinks, which WON’T hydrate you and may actually make you dehydrated faster.

    You can also bulk up on foods with high water content, like watermelon, cucumbers, and celery.

  3. Dehydration

    We all know that dehydration is bad for your body. But research out of the U.K. shows just how quickly being active in the heat can have adverse affects on your body AND slow your reaction times by more than 30 percent.
  4. Coffee is not dehydrating

    A new study busts one of the biggest myths about coffee, proving that it's not dehydrating at all -- and is actually every bit as hydrating as water.
  5. FDA pushes Tamiflu on babies

    Tamiflu, a potentially dangerous flu drug that may not even work very well, can now be marketed to babies.
  6. Why you don't need sports drinks or even water

    You don't need to knock back bottle after bottle of water in the name of hydration as new research shows you could be doing a lot more harm than good.
  7. Why you NEVER need to drink water

    Health officials in Europe are being ridiculed for their seemingly outrageous claim that you don't need water for hydration -- but as much as I love to bash brainless bureaucrats, I'm not going to join in on this one. As crazy as it sounds, they're actually right: You don't need to drink a drop of water for hydration.
  8. Do you need to protect your kidneys from global warming?

    Scientists are apparently worried that global warming will lead to an increase in the incidence of kidney stones.
  9. Run with it

    A new study, reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, shows that ginger's benefits could extend beyond nausea relief - and can work on even the toughest-to-treat diarrhea.

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