Bottoms Up

Zane Basquiat, Web Editor

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  Do you ever feel like taking notes is a lot harder than usual? Is reading the story out of the textbook more difficult? You could be mildly dehydrated.

  A growing body of evidence from the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at Georgia Institute of Technology shows that people who are mildly dehydrated don’t really do that well on tasks that require complex processing or tasks that require a lot of attention.

  No matter how mild, dehydration is not a wanted condition because there is an imbalance in the function of the internal environment. This can adversely affect performance especially in groups more vulnerable to dehydration, such as children and the elderly, as well as in young adults. However, a few studies have examined the impact of mild or moderate dehydration on cognitive performance. Being dehydrated by just two percent  impairs performance in tasks that require attention and immediate memory skills as well as assessments. In contrast, the performance of long-term and working memory tasks and executive functions are more preserved. Especially if the cause of dehydration is moderate physical exercise.

  To tell if you are dehydrated, a good guide is the color of your urine. The darker the color, the more likely you are to be dehydrated. However there are foods like asparagus, blackberries, and other fruits and veggies that can change the shade of urine. But, in general you want to aim for “pale lemonade” or “straw.”

  So how much and what should you drink? There’s really no guideline, and what’s appropriate can vary from person to person. Generally speaking, the heavier, taller and more active you are (and the hotter and more humid the weather is), the more fluids you need to take in to stay hydrated. To make sure you get enough drink before you feel parched, sip small amounts throughout the day, carrying a water bottle with you at all times, and other beverages and foods.