The FoodFacts.com community is comprised of nutritionally savvy, food-aware individuals who pride themselves on remaining educated about the foods and beverages they consume. So we know that everyone is aware that the human body is more than 60% water. Blood is about 92% water, the brain and muscles are 75% water and our bones are about 22% water. While a human being can survive for about a month without food, it can only go for about a week or so without water. That’s one really important liquid for humans.
And we know many of the benefits of drinking water (beyond survival). Water can help keep our skin clear, help us to lose and maintain our weight, keeps our bodily fluids balanced so we don’t dehydrate … the list goes on and on. Today we found a new reason to drink more water. New research has revealed that drinking water when we experience thirst may boost our cognitive abilities.
Researchers from the University of East London and the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom analyzed the potential effects of water on cognitive performance and mood among 34 participants. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, involved participants taking part in a “water” and a “no water” experiment one week apart.
The “water” experiment required the people to complete a number of mental tests after eating a cereal bar and drinking some water. The “no water” test meant the participants consumed just the cereal bar alone. The amount of water drunk by the participants in the “water” test depended on their level of thirst. The study found that reaction times were faster after people drank water, especially if they were thirsty before drinking.
In both experiments, the participants were asked to fast overnight, consuming no food or drink after 9pm before the day of testing. The participants were assessed via three measurements – a thirst scale, a mood scale and with a computer-administered variety of tasks called the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB).
The researchers analyzed particular areas of the participants’ brain, including reaction time, verbal recognition memory, visual memory and learning.
The participants who drank around three cups of water (775 milliliters) just before completing the tests had a 14% increased reaction time compared with those who did not drink any water. More specifically, water consumption appeared to have a corrective effect on the response times for thirsty individuals, bringing their speed of responding up to the level of non-thirsty individuals
Researchers noted that the study shows that water can be helpful for cognitive performance … and that sometimes it can be helpful to be thirsty. They also acknowledge that further study is needed to determine the reasons for the effects observed.
FoodFacts.com thinks this is a fascinating new reason to make sure we drink adequate amounts of water daily. We also think that the best reason to drink water is the simplest of all. Nothing can quench thirst like water. That’s probably because it’s so important for keeping our bodies functioning. Good hydration habits are key to our overall health and well-being.