Benefits of water to for learning, behavior, and health

Hydration is critical to learning and performance. If you coach a sport or have children who are on teams or compete in sports, you would probably never send your kids onto the field, court, or track, or even into the pool without being adequately hydrated. Coaches and research consistently report that hydration not only reduces the likelihood of injury or other health risks, but also improves concentration and performance. Brain Gym ® specialists likewise report improvement in focus, decrease in hyperactivity, and improved performance on academic tasks when our bodies are hydrated.

  • Allows body and brain to communicate
  • Gives our brain an instant boost
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Aids digestion
  • Gets rid of toxins in body
  • Increases oxygen absorption in blood (improves brain functioning)
  • Balances cellular polarity
  • Increases alertness, coordination
  • Improves concentration and ability to focus
  • Counters negative effects of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, environmental toxins, electromagnetic fields and stress
  • Improves academic performance and behavior

When I discuss the importance of hydration in school, teachers get nervous, especially those who are continually bugged by kids asking for the bathroom pass. While it is true that it takes our bodies several days to get used to increased water intake, I suspect that the majority of requests “to be excused” are less about needing to use the bathroom than they are about simply needing to move!

Since so many students are far more likely to drink liquids that are high in sugar and other substances (including stimulants, artificial color, artificial flavors, and other chemicals), which can impact behavior and school performance, it’s really important to stress the benefit of drinking water.

Update

After posting the above information on my site, I received a number of emails with some additional information about water. While I can vouch for the support for the legitimacy of the information above in the literature, I won’t swear to the scientific accuracy of the information below. I am including it, however, as it all sounds reasonable based on the research I have seen. Make your own judgments:

  • 75% of all people are chronically dehydrated. (Note: I did read that thirst is rarely a symptom of dehydration. In other words, most dehydrated people will report not feeling dehydrated.)
  • In 37% of us, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger.
  • Even mild dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism as much as 3%
  • One glass of water shuts down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University study.
  • Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.
  • Preliminary research indicates that 8 – 10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.
  • A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen.
  • Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer.

So there! Are you drinking enough water? (Coffee is not water, neither is soda pop.) Why not have a glass right now?

Parts of this post were excerpted and adapted from Creating Emotionally Safe Schools, by Dr. Jane Bluestein © 2001, Health Communications, Inc, Deerfield Beach, FL.

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Related resources:

The “Ideal” Student: Kids for whom traditional classrooms are ideally suited (and why so many non-traditional learners struggle in these instructional environments).
Ways to Reach More Students
ADHD Look-Alike Conditions
Multiple Intelligences
Working With Different Sensory/Modality Strengths and Limitations
Survey: Is Your School (or Classroom) an Emotionally Safe Place?
Supporting Kids in Crisis: Non-supportive patterns to avoid!
Alternatives to Non-Supportive Responses
I’m Hyperactive, You’re Hyperactive
Increasing Success for All Students
Industrial Age Classrooms vs. Information Age Classrooms

Links to other articles on hydration and nutrition:

Should Classrooms Ban Water Bottles? by Dr. Jane Bluestein (2008 article in American Teacher).
Teaching Expertise: Hydrate the Brain (includes links to other articles)
Hydration and Learning Fact Sheet from Pathfinders for Autism
Hydration is the Key to Learning by Jennifer Insalaco
Feeding the Brain for Academic Success by Philippa Norman, M.D., M.P.H.
How Iodine Deficiency May Affect Your Child’s Brain Function and IQ by Dr. Joseph Mercola

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