How to Get Your Water Right

In many indigenous communities in North America, the phrase “water is life” has political undertones, but stems from a basic truth of our species: we rely heavily on and we are comprised of drinking water.

Humans are up to 60% water by weight. The brain and heart have up to 73% water. It is no wonder we have evolved to rely heavily on water for optimal function in addition to survival.

But in the western world, many take water for granted. This happens in two different ways. For one, drinking water is neglected or sub-optimal, which leads to many cognitive and physical impairments. The other problem is assuming that safe drinking water is optimal, which it is not.

Dehydration is one of the leading causes of fatigue and poor cognitive performance in the workplace. A 2011 study in Human Brain Mapping showed that those suffering from dehydration had to work much harder to get the same cognitive results, which lead to fatigue much earlier than those who were properly hydrated. The brain scans suggested that dehydration could reduce efficacy for planning and other executive functions.

Another study in 2013 confirmed that thirsty students bumped exam scores up by 14% by simply consuming enough water. Even when we are only dehydrated by 2%, we can experience reduced attention, poor memory recall, and an inability to accurately assess our current mental state.

The first priority for anyone reading is to simply drink enough water.

Quantity matters, but so does quality. For sanitation and other (largely debunked) reasons, most western cities add fluoride to water. There is a clear connection between fluoride exposure and poorer IQ outcomes in children. Chlorine and other chemicals used to make our water safe to drink out of the tap are great technological boons, but they come at a cost.

There are tools to fix this. Berkey Filters are the iconic gold standard for removing chlorine and other substances in the water. Other options include reverse osmosis drinking systems or even “live water” from natural springs nearby (test the water quality before consuming in high quantities). Whichever you choose for cleaning drinking water, it will help to avoid the long-term consequences of drinking the adulterated water that comes out of our taps.