This seems like such a simple thing, and goodness knows every time someone suggests to me that I should drink more water I often want to thump them. Water does not seem like the answer when you’re struggling mentally. And yet, it can make a big difference.
Our brains are made up of 75% water and when we are dehydrated, this slows our circulation which alters how we think and respond. Mild dehydration has a marked effect on mental health and this seems to be the body’s first warning that something isn’t as it should be. Usually, by the time we are thirsty, we are already dehydrated even to impair brain function and lower moods.
Lack of water also impairs your body’s ability to process key chemicals that influence your mood. Our bodies turn an amino acid called tryptophan (which you can get from foods like eggs) into serotonin. The body needs sufficient water to transform tryptophan into serotonin so even mild dehydration impairs this process. Lack of serotonin can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. It is important to note that 90% of our serotonin is produced in our gut and not in our brain so our digestive system plays a major part in its production but more on that later.
The take-home advice: Make sure you are drinking at least 5 glasses of water a day, preferably 8-10. Ensuring you are hydrated will make managing your mood much easier.