Tag Archives: concentration

Why H2O?

Our Brain Our brains depend on proper hydration to function optimally. Brain cells require a delicate balance between water and various elements to operate, and when you lose too much water, that balance is disrupted. Your brain cells lose efficiency.   Research Years of research have found that when we’re parched, we have more difficulty keeping our attention focused. Dehydration can impair short-term memory function and the recall of long-term memory. Water makes up about 90% of the brain and is an essential element in neurological transmissions. Poor hydration adversely affects a child’s mental performance and learning ability. Symptoms of mild dehydration may include tiredness, headaches and a feeling not unlike jet lag, as well as reduced alertness and ability to concentrate. Mental performance including memory, attention and concentration can decrease by about 10 % once thirst is felt. Mental performance deteriorates progressively as the degree of dehydration increases. Thirst is usually felt when dehydration results in 0.8 – 2%  loss of body weight lost due to water loss. For a 10-year-old child weighing 30kg this is equivalent to one or two very large glasses of water (300ml each), which is the amount a child could lose during a PE lesson or running around in the playground. Water consumption also has an immediate alerting and revitalizing effect. In schools taking part in the Food in Schools water provision pilot project, the consensus from teachers was that “enhanced provision contributed to a more settled and productive learning environment, as well as helping to instill good habits”. The key to boosting the capacity to learn is to keep well hydrated throughout each day (ideally from a personal water bottle within arm’s reach).   How Much is Enough? •The standard recommendation is at least 6-8 glasses (1.5 – 2 liters) a day, drunk regularly throughout the day (at least 3-4 glasses while at school) ensuring that plenty of additional fluid is drunk during warm weather and/or when exercising. “When exercising” means before, during and after exercise and is not restricted to formal PE and games lessons, but is also applicable to active play (e.g. football in the playground or periods of running around). •The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Washington DC (2004), includes a separate category for teenage boys aged 14 over who require a higher average fluid intake of 2.6 liters (about 11 large glasses). •Kids spend at least half their waking hours in school. During this time, they should be drinking at least half their daily requirement, spread regularly throughout the day.  Effects Symptoms of mild dehydration can be difficult for teachers and parents to spot. In class some children may become irritable, tired and less able to concentrate. By the time they get home many children are complaining of tiredness or headaches and some may be too lethargic to do anything but slump in front of the television. Although we may think of this behavior as normal, it is now known that it may, at least in part, be due… Read More »