How many times has your mom reminded you to drink water in a day and you brushed her off? Well, it's time to start listening. We have come across a new US study that states that dehydration (other than causing severe harm to your skin) can affect cognitive functioning. With just a couple of hours of vigorous activity in the summer heat without drinking fluids, your dehydration can severely affect your concentration.
Carried out by Georgia Institute of Technology, the new meta-analysis looked at 33 studies with 413 subjects in total and focused on the effects of acute dehydration on cognitionn, something anyone could experience in the heat without drinking water. After a detailed analysis, the team found that functions including attention, coordination and complex problem solving suffered the most due to dehydration. The results also showed that the majority of participants increasingly made errors during attention-related tasks that were mostly repetitive and unexciting, such as simply punching a button.
“The simplest reaction time tasks were least impacted, even as dehydration got worse, but tasks that require attention were quite impacted,” said the study's principal investigator Mindy Millard-Stafford. “Maintaining focus in a long meeting, driving a car, a monotonous job in a hot factory that requires you to stay alert are some of them. Higher-order functions like doing math or applying logic also dropped off,” Mindy added. Researchers also warned that dehydration could cause some major accidents too.
The research also picked up on the fact that severe impairments start at 2 per cent loss of body mass due to dehydration. “There's already a lot of quantitative documentation that if you lose 2 per cent in water it affects physical abilities like muscle endurance or sports tasks and your ability to regulate your body temperature,” said Millard-Stafford, adding that, “If you weigh 200 pounds and you go work out for a few of hours, you drop four pounds, and that's 2 per cent body mass. If you drop 4 or 5 per cent, you're going to feel really crummy. Water is the most important nutrient,” Millard-Stafford said. She warned, "Some people overly aggressively, out of a fear of dehydration, drink so much water that they dilute their blood and their brain swells which can in extreme cases even lead to death." And although salt isn't always the best option for high blood pressure patients, sometimes adding some salt in order to retain the water they drink is necessary.