By: Michael Ravensthorpe NaturalNews
Experts estimate that approximately 75 percent of the American population is sub-clinically dehydrated, and this percentage doesn't seem to be shrinking thanks to the continued popularity of acidic foods and diuretics. While dehydration has always been linked to illness and disease, researchers at the University of Connecticut's Human Performance Laboratory have found that it also negatively affects our moods and mental abilities - and that women are affected worse than men.Even mild dehydration can lower mood
The researchers, whose studies were published in the British Journal of Nutrition, evaluated two groups of volunteers to determine the effects of dehydration on cognition. The first group was comprised of 25 women with an average age of 23, and the second group was comprised of 26 men with an average age of 20. All of the volunteers were healthy and exercised an average of 30-60 minutes daily.
The two groups of volunteers were subjected to a series of physical tests designed to induce dehydration, such as walking on a treadmill. The volunteers were hydrated the evening before each test, and had their cognitive abilities - including reaction times, concentration levels, memory, and vigilance - measured after each test. The volunteers repeated these test again while well-hydrated, and the results of both sets of tests were compared.
The male group experienced issues with their memory and vigilance levels when dehydrated, as well as mild fatigue, anxiety, and tension. The female group experienced the same issues, but to a greater degree than the men.
"Even mild dehydration that can occur during the course of our ordinary daily activities can degrade how we are feeling - especially for women, who appear to be more susceptible to the adverse effects of low levels of dehydration than men," said Harris Lieberman, psychologist and co-author of the studies. "In both sexes these adverse mood changes may limit the motivation required to engage in even moderate aerobic exercise. Mild dehydration may also interfere with other daily activities, even when there is no physical demand component present."
The body constantly needs water
The researchers do not understand why the symptoms of dehydration are less severe in men than women, but ultimately both sexes suffer from this widespread condition - often without realizing it. Experts often recommend that we drink approximately eight glasses of water daily, but this advice doesn't consider additional factors such as individual body mass, climate, or water quality. Moreover, people often only drink when thirsty. However, according to Lawrence Armstrong, the studies' lead researcher and a professor at the university's Department of Kinesiology, this is a bad idea:
"Our thirst sensation doesn't really appear until we are one or two percent dehydrated. By then dehydration is already setting in and starting to impact how our mind and body perform. Dehydration affects all people, and staying properly hydrated is just as important for those who work all day at a computer as it is for marathon runners, who can lose up to eight percent of their body weight as water when they compete."
Therefore, it is important for us to ensure that we remain hydrated throughout the day. Periodically sipping from a glass of water at our work desks, for instance, is far better than remaining dehydrated for long periods and then downing pints of water later on to 'make up' for it. Finally, remember to drink only water (preferably spring or distilled) when possible, not beer, sodas, or other drinks that require more water to digest than they provide.