Are your children drinking enough water?
By Elizabeth Holtom
04 Oct
Our body is about 70% water and our brain about 85% water. We can only survive a few days without water as it helps to mediate every function in the brain and the body.  It is therefore really important to make sure your children drink enough water, especially when they are very active.

 What does water do for the brain?
  • Water carries the tiny electrical currents that drive the brain. When scientists talk about the nervous system sending ‘signals’ to the brain, or synapses ‘firing,’ they mean this flow of electricity. 
  • Water helps oxygen bind to our blood.  This is one of the vital fuels for the brain.
  • Water delivers nutrients to the brain.
  • Water helps remove waste and toxins from the body. 
How much water?
The brain cannot store water so it is very important to drink it at regular intervals in moderate amounts.  Experts state that we need about eight glasses of water a day.  It is best to drink water at least 10 minutes before a meal because we want the water to go straight from the stomach into the bloodstream rather than via the gut. 


Dehydration – what are the effects?
If we become dehydrated, our mood deteriorates, our learning is impaired and our concentration dips.  Studies have shown that if we are only 1% dehydrated we are likely to have a 5% decrease in cognitive function.  If our blood is hydrated then toxins are flushed right out of our system.  If it is dehydrated then toxins are still extracted but they are then dumped somewhere else, including in the brain. 

At home
Fruit juice, soft drinks, coffee and tea are all diuretics.  The sugars and other components bind to the water and it’s treated as food by the brain.  You get some of the water value from them but not as much as from a glass of pure water.  If your child does not like the taste of tap water, try filtering it or adding a slice of lemon to make it more interesting.

Make sure your child eats plenty of fruit and vegetables as these also contain lots of water. Ideas for brain-friendly foods can be found in the Galore Park Study Skills book.
Avoid sugary and additive-laden drinks as these upset blood sugar levels and can lead to hyperactivity.  Your child will experience an energy spurt followed by an energy slump. 

There are healthier ways to have fizzy drinks.  Try adding pure fruit juice to sparkling mineral water.  If your child is used to highly flavoured juices and squashes, start by adding a small amount of water and gradually increase the proportion until it is half and half.

Get your child to be aware of how much he/she drinks.  If his/her urine is dark yellow and smells strong, he/she is not drinking enough.  It should be pale yellow.

At school
Children should have easy access to a water dispenser especially before going back to lessons after sport or break time.  A drink at the beginning or the end of a lesson is fine.

Regular drinks of water are a way of enhancing learning.

Many other useful tips on improving learning performance can also be found in Galore Park's book: Study Skills, the comple guide to smart learning. This book is the perfect accompaniment for our 11+ and pre-tests revision and practice range, and 13+ Common Entrance revision and practice range

It is really important to drink enough water.  After all, we are mostly made from it.


Tags: Elizabeth Holtom, Revision, Study Skills, Water

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