You give them healthy snacks. You serve them organic juices and hormone-free milk. You read with them and help them with their homework. Every day.
But what’s the missing element for school success?
Water. Pure and Simple.
- Our kids’ brains need all the water they can get to perform complex neurological functions. In fact, the brain is nearly 80% water – and it has no way to store it. A steady, ready supply of H2O is essential for healthy neurological activity.
- Water gives the brain the electrical energy necessary for all of its functions, including thought and memory processes. And studies show that even mild dehydration can influence mood, energy levels and the ability to think clearly.
Yet many of our kids are chronically dehydrated. Not optimal for their greatest academic success.
Why don’t our kids get the hydration they need to do their best in school?
Limited access to water during the day. Rushed at drinking fountain. They forgot their water bottle. Or they wait until they feel thirsty. That’s too late, say experts.
“Our thirst sensation doesn’t really appear until we are 1 or 2 percent dehydrated. By then dehydration is already setting in and starting to impact how our mind and body perform,” says Lawrence E. Armstrong, international expert on hydration.
When do the effects of inadequate hydration start to effect our kids’ school performance? When they are less than 1.5% dehydrated. And the brain cannot store the water it needs, so the first place our kids feel the effects of dehydration is right where it hurts the most.
In a recent study by The Journal of Nutrition, all study participants experienced headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. They also perceived tasks as more difficult when slightly dehydrated, although there was no substantive reduction in their cognitive abilities.
The effects are even more pronounced in girls. According to the Journal of Nutrition’s study, “while the young men in the study also experienced fatigue, tension, and anxiety when mildly dehydrated, adverse changes in mood and symptoms were substantially greater in females than in males.”
- If you are just 1 percent dehydrated, you will likely have a 5 percent decrease in cognitive function.
- If your brain drops 2 percent in body water, you may suffer from fuzzy short-term memory, experience problems with focusing, and have trouble with math computations.
- Dehydration can exacerbate the effects or even mimic ADD/ADHD..
- Perhaps worst of all, prolonged dehydration actually causes brain cells to shrink in size and mass, causing permanent damage.
Water is life. Pure and Simple.
So what can you do?
- Send your child to school with a filled 1-liter bottle of water each day – and check to make sure they drink it.
- Put water in their lunch.
- Encourage them to drink a full glass of water when they get home, especially if they are out of sorts, have a headache, or are not feeling well.
- If your school does not allow water bottles and has few water breaks, get involved. Share this research, and encourage them to allow the kids to bring in and use water bottles.
Wishing you and your children a safe, healthy and successful school year,
Culligan of Scotia
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