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Happy New Year! Raise your glass….

of Water!

Many of us celebrate the New Year, often with a glass or two of bubbly, wine, or beer or whatever your favourite tipple. How was your head on January First?

A little fuggy?

Was the furry tongue and thickish head merely from getting to bed too late? Or was it in combination with perhaps imbibing in some alcohol as well?

The most logical explanation is that you are actually dehydrated and the effect on your brain can result in you being somewhat less than tiptop 100% the following morning.

And it’s not just alcohol, which has a dehydrating effect. Tea and coffee by their diuretic action also depletes our body and our brain of water. They stimulate the kidneys to work harder, so, although you are drinking a beverage made with water, your body and mind sadly doesn’t benefit from this.

Without enough water in our body, we eventually will feel thirsty. But by the time we experience the symptom of thirst we are already significantly dehydrated.

When dehydrated, some people will experience headache, lethargy and mental dullness. If the dehydration is not corrected this will lead to further deterioration of memory function and increasing confusion.

A physiotherapist friend of mine was telling me the story of a lady she had to assess recently for her problems of urinary incontinence. The lady concerned also had dementia and was being cared for by her husband. The husband was asked how much fluid his wife drank each day and it transpired she was drinking at least 750mls of tea daily and not much else.

She was dehydrated!

The physio suggested cutting down her tea intake and replacing it with water.

The result?

A significant improvement in the incontinence problem, but moreover the lady’s husband reported that (although there was no improvement in her actual dementia) she appeared to be functioning at a better level. She was thereby able to continue to stay at home for longer, being cared for by her partner.

Just by increasing her water intake and rehydrating her body.

How much water do we need to drink each day?

Eight glasses or around two litres.

If you are not drinking this much, then you could be suffering from chronic mild dehydration, which could be having a negative effect on your brain function.

Try increasing your water intake by having a bottle of water available with you during the day to sip on when you feel thirsty. Instead of having that second cup of tea or coffee ask yourself first. “Do I really need this or would I be better off having a glass of water instead?”

Try to limit the number of cups of tea, coffee and soft drink you have to three or four a day and drink water at other times.

Pour a glass of water to drink when having lunch and dinner.

If exercising, ensure you have a bottle of water with you to maintain your hydration.

Don’t like water?

Adding a slice of lemon makes the taste different.

Or try drinking herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile or rooiboos.

Unfortunately green tea despite all its wonderful antioxidant properties contains significant caffeine and is just as dehydrating as black tea.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year.


Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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