How Dehydration Affects Your Brain, Energy Levels, and Body

Most people know that dehydration is bad for them, but you may be surprised at how it can affect you.

Right now, we are still encountering the sweltering heat of summer —high temperatures are breaking records here in DC and around the world — and the Northern Hemisphere may experience its hottest year ever recorded.

There is typically a spike in dehydration in the mid- and late-summer months, when the heat index is the highest.

Aside from the general lightheaded feeling and dry mouth that individuals commonly recognize as dehydration, there are many hidden dangers that affect your physical and mental health. Our brains are highly influenced by hydration status and even mild dehydration (1-3% of body weight) can result in impaired brain function. Dehydration has been shown to negatively impact concentration, and functions such as problem-solving, motor coordination, and attention suffer the most.

Although it’s still unknown exactly when cognitive errors occur, studies show that the most severe impairments start to transpire at a 2 percent drop in body mass, a water weight loss that can happen quickly.

Surprising Benefits of Staying Hydrated

I usually tell my patients to go with the formula of 1/2 your body weight in ounces, so if you weigh 200 lbs., then you want to try to drink 100 ounces per day.

There are many benefits of staying hydrated — some you may not know about!

  • Prevent headaches: Dehydration can trigger headaches and migraines, and increasing your water intake can help.
  • Think more clearly: You may feel foggy and have trouble concentrating without enough water. Drinking up to be more productive at work!
  • Relieve constipation: Increased fluid intake can help alleviate symptoms of constipation. Low water consumption has been shown as a risk factor for constipation in young and elderly individuals.
  • Lose weight: Drinking water can increase satiety and boost your metabolic rate. Sometimes what we mistake for hunger is actually thirst.

Signs of dehydration include feelings of thirst, dizziness, heat cramps, nausea, mood changes, fatigue, and frequent headaches. In extreme cases, when left untreated, you may end up having to go to the emergency room for treatment.

How easily a person becomes dehydrated is dependent on their body mass. Younger children and infants need to monitor their hydration more than an adult would because they have a lower total body weight and a higher concentration of water. An infant’s total body water is 70 percent whereas it’s about 65 percent in older children and 60 in adults; infants and children can also turn over electrolytes and water faster than other age groups, meaning they lose water more quickly than adults.

Tips on Staying Hydrated Safely

  • Hydrate throughout the day: Drinking too much water can dilute the body, leading to a low sodium and salt intake in the blood and, in extreme cases, cause seizures. Stay hydrated by taking in fluids throughout the day, not all at once. Keep a water bottle with you!
  • Eat for the weather: Especially in hot weather and the summer months, try to consume fruits and vegetables and other foods that have high water content.
  • Exercise around the sun and heat: It’s great to stay active, but it’s best to exercise when the sun isn’t at its peak. Exercise indoors if it’s especially hot and humid outside, or go out for your walk, run or bike ride before the sun rises or after the sun sets. (Be sure to wear reflective, light weight clothing.)

Following these tips on hydration and ensuring that you always carry around extra liquids when out in the sun is a great way to ensure you don’t experience dehydration.

Stay cool! (And hydrated!)

 

How Can Chiropractic Care Benefit Runners?

The running world is a tight-knit, global community – those who love it, really love it, and are incredibly passionate about it. Most runners have a regular routine of runs every week, even on vacation. And now that warm-weather months are upon us, running season is already starting to kick up a notch in our area.

While running has many health benefits, both physical and mental, it can also take a toll on the back, the knees, the joints and the muscles. When you run for an extended period of time, you are literally “pounding the pavement” with your bones, joints and muscles, over and over again. For this reason, doctors who treat runners say they most often see injuries to the knees, ankles, hips and back, and causing shock to their musculoskeletal systems.

For these reasons, runners need to pay close attention to the care of their bodies.

Why are we telling you this? Besides the fact that we care about the health and wellness of all our patients and their friends and loved ones, we are pointing this out because many runners may not know how regular chiropractic care can be beneficial to devoted runners.

Here are just a few ways chiropractic care can improve a runner’s performance, and overall health:

Treating Chronic Pain: Running can sometimes lead to pulled muscles, sprains, strains, and a buildup of lactic acid in the soft tissue. Chiropractic treatments can help soothe those muscles, relieve that pain, and also speed up the recovery time and healing of common repetitive injuries.  In addition, regular treatment helps reduce the possibility of being injured in the same areas repeatedly.

Improve Joint Mobility: Chiropractic adjustments and treatments can help correct musculoskeletal imbalances, which in turn will increase a runner’s joint mobility, upping their overall performance. In addition, chiropractic adjustments can help heal damage from past injuries that may be holding a runner back. As Olympic marathon runner Desiree Linden says, after a stress fracture forced her to drop out of the 2012 Olympics, regular chiropractic care helped her work through old scar tissue and get her back to peak performance. “My stride feels a lot more normal. I feel really smooth now,” she described.

Prevent Future Injuries With a Properly Aligned Core: Taking care of yourself when you’re healthy can be the best way to avoid future injuries. As previously mentioned, running involves repeated (and literal) “pounding the pavement.” Almost no one in the world is born with perfect alignment – but regular chiropractic adjustments and treatments can help keep your core properly aligned; and when you have a properly aligned core, you’re much less susceptible to injury, and running will even feel easier. Joints can’t flow through the full range of motion when misaligned.

Focus on Function, Not Treatment of Pain: This largely goes along with the previous point. It’s much healthier, and feels better, if you focus on improving your body’s function, rather than waiting until you are experiencing pain and then come in for treatment of that pain. Some of the most common injuries from running are “overuse injuries” including plantar fasciitis, shin splints, ankle sprains, knee pain and hip pain. By being focused on function, and not always working to relieve pain, you and your chiropractor can catch injuries before they happen, and get you back on track faster.

In short, chiropractic care can improve several aspects of a runner’s performance, including:

  • Coordination
  • Reaction Time
  • Balance
  • Heightening Accuracy
  • Amplifying Precision
  • Building Stronger Muscles

As a runner, you always choose the best running gear (shoes, hats, clothing, sunglasses, heart rate monitors, etc.) to give you the ultimate data, comfort and power – why not also choose to up your body’s performance and comfort with regular visits to the chiropractor?

If you have questions about how Ashburn Family Chiropractic can help your body, or improve your performance, please contact us!