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Nutritional Priorities, Part 1: The Importance of HYDRATION for your child’s brain functioning

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

If you’re like me, you don’t drink nearly enough water. From the research I’ve read, the average adult should be drinking a gallon of water per day. “ONE GALLON??!!” you exclaim—“That’s a lot of water!!” Yes it is. Hydration is very important for our brain health, and it is so much more important for children—especially for kids who struggle with cognitive deficits and behavioral problems.

In an age where our teenagers in particular are fueling up with Red Bull, Monster, and Mountain Dew--the latter of which has the highest caffeine content of any soda on the market-- drinking water has a low priority. However, for our children, inadequate water intake can lead to multiple problems such as poor concentration and memory, increased anxiety and angry mood. Most all of us have been “hangry” at some point. The same effect can happen for kids who aren’t getting enough water intake. Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. David Cross at the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University share that “Our bodies don’t even feel thirsty until we are 1.5 to 3% dehydrated, and at these levels, lack of water already affects how our brains and bodies operate.”

So what to do? Many foster and adopted children have come from environments where nutrition and proper hydration have been a low priority, due either to habit or just plain survival. The best thing we can do as parents is to set the example for our children. Our kids should see us drinking water often, and even carrying a water bottle with us wherever we go. Give them their own personalized water bottle. We need to make it part of our daily routine. Getting our kids to do the same may take time, as it is a matter of developing a healthy habit.

Finally, be “zero tolerance” on caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, which can quickly lead to dehydration, which in turn, can prevent toxins from being properly cleansed from the body (including the brain). This doesn’t mean that your child must only drink water, however, as there are plenty of non-caffeinated drinks that your child can have in moderation. Water should be the priority, however.

Next Blog: The blood sugar/behavior connection.


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