Drink water for health and better learning
Students who are bored, listless, drowsy, and who lack concentration may, in fact, be dehydrated. — Eric Jensen
Dr. Philippa Norman, on her website, “Healthy Brain for Life,” writes: “Water is essential for optimal brain health and function.” She describes the vacuoles in nerve cells as being like small balloons that store water. Water is necessary in the brain because it:
- Maintains the membranes around the brain
- Is needed for circulation
- Helps remove waste materials
- Keeps the brain cool — p.4
According to Dr. Norman, students often don’t even feel thirsty until they are already dehydrated, and dehydration causes learning problems. “Dehydration leads to fatigue, dizziness, poor concentration and reduced cognitive abilities. Even mild levels of dehydration can impact school performance.” p.5
She pointed out another interesting result of dehydration. “Students who are dehydrated tend to feel tired during exercise and avoid activity, a risk factor for obesity.”
The website “ehow.com: Signs and Symptoms of Brain Dehydration” points out that with too much water, “the cell’s membranes can break. When there is not enough water, the cell will shrivel up.”
Early mental signs of dehydration include
mental fatigue. Later, “you will also experience confusion.”:
Early physical signs “include a dry or sticky mouth.” As the problem gets worse, you will have “little or no urine released, no tears being produced, eyes sunken in their sockets, lethargy.”
In severe cases, “By the time the brain is feeling the effects of dehydration, the rest of your body is suffering….The mineral imbalance interferes with the normal function of brain cells and,…” and the cells deteriorate.
When dehydration is left untreated, it can result in seizures, permanent brain damage, coma, and death. (1)
This warning should cause us to be more careful.
Are you drinking enough water?
David Sousa in his book, How the Brain Learns, says water is “essential of healthy brain activity.” It “is required to move neuron signals through the brain. Low concentrations of water diminish the rate and efficiency of these signals. Moreover, water keeps the lungs sufficiently moist to allow for the efficient transfer of oxygen into the bloodstream” p.23.
The amount of water we should drink varies in relation to
1. Our body weight.
2. The temperature
3. The amount of physical activity
4. Individual differences
Many sources suggest drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day. Dr. Sousa suggests we drink “one eight-ounce glass of water a day for each 25 pounds of body weight.
The three students in the picture are smart. They all take a water bottle with them. They probably know that water is good for their health. I wonder if they also know that it helps them learn.
Note: Drinking coffee, tea, soft drinks, fruit juices and alcohol cannot be substituted for water. Herbal tea (no caffeine) is acceptable. The others actually make you more thirsty.
Prepare for Learning by Drinking Water
Drink water throughout the day. Drink water before class, test or study session.
Further links in Healthy Body