As a young woman I suffered regularly from excruciating migraine headaches. They were the crawl into bed, close the door, lower the blinds, pull the covers over my head and curl up in the fetal position type of headaches.
No light. No sound. No movement. All those situations made the headache worse. My brain drifted in and out of a foggy stupor.
Over the years I have come to manage these migraines as I discovered that an underlying factor is dehydration.
Being dehydrated did not cause the headaches directly. The triggers were things like hormonal imbalance, stress or food sensitivities. However, without the underlying factor of dehydration, those other triggers had no effect, and my body was strong enough to prevent the migraine from taking hold.
In the book You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty!, F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., stated: “I am of the opinion that some of these conditions (Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, aphasia, autism, attention deficit disorders and epilepsy) are the result of persistent dehydration in the body.”
Long before any of these diseases are diagnosed, the individual may be experiencing mild dehydration. This is not the hallucinating, seeing mirages in the dessert type of dehydration, just the mild dehydration that brings on the feeling of brain fog.
It is the annoying state when you feel like you can’t think clearly, or a name won’t come to you, or the word is on the tip of your tongue.
To counter the problem of dehydration all we need to do is drink more water.
The general guideline for individuals without a medical limitation is about one ten-ounce glass of water per day for every 30 pounds of body weight.
Another way to look at it is, one ounce of water for every 3 pounds. For example, a 180 lb. person needs 60 ounces (180÷3) or at least six 10 oz. glasses of water per day.
However, if you are currently drinking one or two glasses of water a day you will want to gradually increase the amount that you are drinking. Increasing too quickly may disrupt the chemical balance in your body, not to mention the amount of time you will spend running to the bathroom.
Before you begin working on increasing your water consumption, it’s important to know your starting point. The first step is to figure out how much water you currently drink. To do that, simply measure out your water before you take a drink.
Each day will vary so keep track for a full week. It will be a bit tedious, but we need to do this to see how much, on average we are drinking. For now, only measure the water. Do not include tea, coffee, juice, alcohol or soup.
How much are you drinking per day, on average? At the end of the week, add up how many ounces you drank for the week and divide that by 7. That will give you the average of how much water you drank each day.
Then, gradually increase the amount that you drink.
Add 2 ounces to the average and drink that amount each day for the next week. Continue adding 2 ounces per day each week until you are up to your ideal water consumption.
There are some times when we want to drink more.
For example, when we have a fever we need to be diligent to keep hydrated. Strenuous physical activity makes us sweat more and breathe harder causing our body to need extra water. When we are under a lot of stress, our bodies also require additional water.
Coffee, tea, soft drinks, most sports drinks and alcohol act as diuretics depleting our body of fluids. Some medications also act as diuretics and require the person to drink extra water.
If our diet consists of a lot of prepared or processed foods, we would need to drink more water because most packaged foods are higher in salt than the homemade versions.
The problem with coffee and tea is that they are diuretics, which means they cause your kidneys to increase the amount of salt and water you pass in your urine. So, to increase hydration in our body we would need to drink extra water to replace what is flushed by the diuretic.
Juice is not a good substitute because of the high sugar content which adds undesirable calories. Coconut water is now on the market and many people have turned to that as a substitute for water.
Although it is far better than any of the above mentioned substitutes – and fine to drink occasionally – it is not a complete replacement for water.
A broth-based soup could be included as part of your fluid intake, provided it is not too high in salt.
Could the solution for brain fog be as simple as drinking more water? Of course not. Nothing to do with the human brain is that simple. But many of us will notice significant benefits by increasing the amount of water we drink every day.
Step by step, there are many things we can do to help our brain stay sharp long term, and drinking adequate amounts of water is by far the simplest and most cost-effective way to begin.
Do you regularly drink enough water, or do you want to increase your water consumption? Have you experienced any benefits from drinking plenty of water? Do you have strategies for making sure you remember to drink enough? Please join the conversation below.
Tags Healthy Aging