Times fo India
21 May 2010
Lack Of Hydration Leads To Shrinking Of Grey Matter, Making It Difficult For People To Think
Make sure you drink enough water every day – it’s not only good for your body, but good for your brain too, for a new study says that grey matter can shrink without hydration.
Researchers have found that failing to drink enough water can make grey matter shrink, making it difficult for people to think – so, dehydration not only affects the size of the brain but also how it works, the Daily Mail reported.
According to the British scientists, just 90 minutes of steady sweating can shrink the brain as much as a year of aging.
Starved of water, the grey matter is also forced to work harder to process the same information. Over days and weeks, lack of fluid could impact on performance at work and school, and on exam results.
But there is no need to panic – because after a glass of water or two the brain quickly returns to normal, say the researchers at King’s College London.
For their study, the researchers scanned the brains of teenagers after an hour and a half of cycling. Some exercised in three layers of sweat–inducing clothing – a binliner worn next to the skin, a hooded chemical warfare suit and a track suit. Others were more lightly clad in shorts and t–shirts.
Those who were wrapped up lost around two pounds in sweat – and their brain tissue had shrunk away from their skulls, the study found.
Lead researcher Matthew Kempton said: "We saw a general shrinking of the brain tissue. Fluid filled cavities in the middle of the brain expanded and there was a corresponding shrinking of the brain tissue. The people who lost the most weight had the most shrinkage of the brain."
On average, the amount of shrinkage equated to 14 months of age–related wear and tear, or the withering away associated with two and a half months of Alzheimer’s disease.
The sweaty students did just as well when asked to play a computer game that tests the ability to plan and solve problems. But scans showed they used more of their brains to do it, according to the findings published in Human Brain Mapping journal.
The total amount of water in a 70 kg man is approximately 40 litres, averaging 57% of his total body weight. In a newborn infant, this may be as high as 75% of the body weight, but it progressively decreases from birth to old age, most of the decrease occurring during the first 10 years of life. Water helps people to maintain body temperature, metabolize body fat, aids in digestion, lubricates and cushions organs, transports nutrients, and flushes toxins from the body.