Eat Your Water

Did you know that fatigue and brain fog can be early signs of dehydration?

Even the smallest amount of dehydration can have a big impact. 2% dehydration can cause cognitive impairment. That’s about 33 ounces of water. By mid-afternoon low-grade dehydration causes energy to slump.

Water is the most important nutrient your body needs. If you feel foggy or unfocused, water can provide immediate help. Studies show that even mild dehydration lowered women’s concentration levels and they performed poorly on tests that measured cognition and focus. When they were fully hydrated, they were able to perform the same tests well. Dehydration also lowers mood. Research shows that neurons in your brain can sense early warning signs of dehydration and alert other neurons that regulate mood.

Repeated dehydration accelerates aging. Chronic dehydration is also linked to increased risk of Alzheimer’s.

Staying hydrated helps your brain by

  • transporting oxygen to your cells
  • improving cell-to-cell communication
  • flushes toxins
  • empowers your body’s natural healing processes

Cut back on coffee, skip juices, sodas and artificially flavored waters.  Drink filtered water. Make your own flavored water with fresh fruit, or herbs. How much water to drink? Pay attention to your body. Symptoms of early dehydration – besides fatigue and brain fog – include

  • headaches
  • constipation
  • irritability, mood imbalances
  • stiffness

Getting hydration from water and food is the best strategy to absorb water.

How to best absorb water

Water locked in plants hydrates more efficiently and more fully than plain water.  Water in plants is already purified, alkaline, mineralized, full of nutrients and easily absorbed into your cells. And plant fiber helps you absorb all that liquid and keeps it in your system longer because you absorb it more slowly.

Water-rich foods are nutrient-rich, packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals; calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium are activated by the electrical charge in water, hello  electrolytes. Water conducts electricity not only for fuel but for cognition, judgment, and mood. Aim to get more veggies than fruit.

Top 12 Hydrating Veggies

(percent water)


Top 12 Hydrating Fruits

(percent water)

Cucumbers  96.7% Starfruit  91.4%
Romaine  95.6% Watermelon  91.4%
Celery  95.3% Strawberries  91%
Radishes  95.3% Grapefruit  90.5%
Zucchini  95% Cantaloupe  90.2%
Tomato  94.5% Pineapple  87%
Peppers  93.9% Raspberries  87%
Cauliflower  92.1% Blueberries  85%
Spinach  91.4% Kiwi  84.2%
Broccoli  90.7% Apples  84%
Carrots  90% Pears  84%
Sprouts  86.5% Grapes  81.5%

When you get more water from plants, you are also giving bacteria in your gut the nutrients, fiber and water they need. Your gut is part of your central nervous system and is often referred to as the “second brain”. Many neurotransmitters are produced by your gut such as

  • Serotonin which contributes to feeling happy
  • GABA which helps control feelings of anxiety and fear

The “second brain” in your gut is in communication with the brain in your head, and plays a key role in diseases and in  overall mental health.

What to do?

  • After waking up drink 8 – 16 ounces of water with 1 spoon of lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt
  • Front-load your hydration early in the day, it will be easier for your body to stay hydrated this way
  • Drink water before each meal (rather than during your meal)
  • Get more water from food – eating foods high in water content keep you hydrated longer
  • Listen to your body – fatigue (especially afternoon crash) and brain fog are early signals of dehydration
  • Limit water/liquid one hour before bedtime

Fruit infused water – The Free Range Life

How to make the healthiest green smoothie – Downshiftology

Cold Soup Recipes – Love and Lemons

Cohen, Dana, Bria, Gina. (2018). Quench: Beat fatigue, drop weight, and heal your body through the new science of optimum hydration. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group.

Popkin, Barry M., D’Anci, Kristen E. and Rosenberg, Irwin H. (2010). Water, Hydration and Health. Nutrition Review. 68(8); 439 – 458.

Riebl, Shaun K, Davy, Brenda. M. (November/December 2013). The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance. ACSMs Health Fit J. 17(6); 21 – 28.

Reclaim Your Energy Tip #2: Balance Your Blood Sugar

Did you know your body is constantly working to have a precise, consistent amount of blood sugar at all times? This is vital for energy production and balance. It’s also critical for mood, cognitive function and brain health. What you eat significantly impacts your blood sugar.

Normal Blood Sugar Regulation
When blood sugar rises above its normal range, your brain immediately triggers the release of insulin. This lowers blood sugar by storing the excess in your liver and muscles for later use. When your blood sugar level begins to drop, glucagon (another hormone) takes that stored sugar out of storage and back into the blood. And uses as energy until your next meal. This is how your body balances your blood sugar (glucose), which gives you a nice even flow of energy.

Dysregulated Blood Sugar
But what happens when you grab cup of coffee and a muffin on the go? Or eat a quick, carb-heavy low-fat lunch, say a sandwich? Your blood sugar shoots past the normal upper level. You feel this as a “sugar high.” Your body races to bring it down, (by releasing more insulin). If you do this repeatedly, a couple of things happen:

  • It can lead to brain fogginess, low energy and trouble sleeping.
  • You get fatter. Your body is designed to store only a small amount of sugar in the liver and muscles. Excess sugar gets stored as body fat.
  • When you give your body more sugar than it can handle, it can’t revert all the excess stored sugar back into the blood stream. This feels like a “sugar crash”, so you drink more coffee or eat whatever is available to pick up your energy
  • Excess insulin is repeatedly released to lower your blood sugar. If this becomes chronic, your body develops insulin resistance. Blood regulation mechanism breaks down.

How to stop blood sugar swings and have a more even flow of energy?

  1. Find your macronutrient ratio. In particular, check healthy fat intake (some of my favorites are avocado, coconut oil, almond butter, nuts/seeds). A meal of healthy protein, fats and carbohydrates gets converted into a nice even flow of energy
  2. Minimize sugar and flour to stabilize your blood sugar. Aim for less than 10% of calories from added sugars (this includes flour). Avoid high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
[su_expanding_quote_book alignment=”right” source_author=”Sarah Ballantyne” source_title=”The Paleo Principles” full_quote=”Blood sugar regulation is further improved by consuming fruits and vegetables as part of a meal that also includes protein and fat. Whole-food carbohydrates, like fruits and vegetables, slow digestion and blunt the blood sugar response.” short_quote=”Blood sugar regulation is further improved by consuming fruits and vegetables as part of a meal that also includes protein and fat”]

What to do?

  1. Commit to 10 days without any sugar or flour to help your taste buds and metabolism adapt to a lower sugar intake. This will help you get off the sugar-high-sugar-crash roller coaster
  2. Keep a Food Journal those days. Write what you eat. Set a timer for 2 – 3 hours later and make note about your energy (good, low, etc.), emotional balance (irritable, satisfied, etc.) and cognitive function (brain fog, alert, focused).
  3. Read ingredient labels. Sugar is in everything under different names. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, it’s likely your body won’t recognize it as food. If you can identify the sugar, aim for 5 grams of sugar per serving.
  4. Commit to a consistent sleep routine – regular bedtime and wake-up times. This helps with sugar cravings and consistent energy

You don’t have to give up all sugar, croissants, scones, bread etc. forever. Your body can handle a little sugar now and then. Aim for minimally sweetened, preferably using a natural sugar and indulge occasionally. Eat mindfully, savoring every bite. You may discover you don’t need as much as you thought you did. If you overindulge, take note in your Food Journal. Writing it down may help you stay the course at the next temptation. The more in tune you become with your body, the easier it becomes to make choices that help you feel good – having nice even flow of energy, emotional balance and no brain fog.

Breakfast Ideas

Veggie-Loaded Egg Bake – Color My Food

Quinoa Chia Seed Pudding – Brain Health Kitchen

Next step: 

Keep a Food and Mood journal for 10 days. What do you discover?