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020 - Water & Attention Issues

posted Nov 12, 2015, 6:24 AM by Doug Muha

Counselor Notes 20

March 26, 2014

Water (especially fluoridated water) & Attention Issues

Earlier this month, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health published a study connecting chemicals, including the fluoride in tap water, to ADHD (and other mental health issues).  http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/03/05/harvard-research-finds-link-between-fluoridated-water-adhd-mental-disorders/  (Side note: fluoride may – or may not - be linked to thyroid problems as well.  See: http://thyroid.about.com/cs/toxicchemicalsan/a/flouride.htm and   http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/08/13/fluoride-and-thyroid-dysfunction.aspx )

The chemical load borne by children has, in these notes, long been suspected of playing a role in ADHD.  (See the April 2012 Counselor Notes or email me for a copy of it.)  Still, while some parents may now be looking to avoid fluoride in their children’s drinking water, I hope they will remember the importance of sufficient (non-fluoridated) water intake – especially for a child with attention issues.

In Healing ADD, Dr. Daniel Amen writes:

“Water is an essential part of every function in the body, including brain blood flow and cell function.  Necessary for proper metabolism, water helps transport nutrients and waste products in and out of cells.  Without enough of it, the body struggles to function properly.  An abundance of it gives cells the opportunity to work right.”  P. 224 - 225

In her book Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All In Your Head, author Dr. Carla Hannaford makes these points for drinking plenty of water:

“It [water] makes up eighty percent of our body weight at birth, and seventy percent of an adult’s body weight…. Water comprises more of the brain (with estimates of ninety percent) than of any other organ of the body, with muscles next at seventy-five percent, and then kidneys.  P. 150

“Under normal circumstances, it is recommended a person drink one third of an ounce of water per pound of body weight (about a quart per hundred pounds of weight) each day with that amount doubled or tripled in times of stress.”  P. 150 – 151

“Our bodily systems are electrical.  Ultimately it is the electrical transmissions within the nervous system that make us sensing, learning, thinking, acting organisms.  Water, the universal solvent, is essential for maintaining the electrical potential within our bodies.”   P. 151

“Water causes salt to disassociate into the atoms that make it up.  In the case of table salt (NaCl), water will cause it to dissociate into two atoms with unequal charges: Na and Cl.  These then have the ability to transmit electrical current.”  P. 152

“Optimal nerve and muscle function depend on proper membrane potential (polarity).  The water/electrolyte balance is so critical to the living system that if the membrane potential within the cells drops to -30 mv and remains there, death will ensue.  This can occur through radical dehydration or malnutrition.  Even under normal circumstances, the polarity across the membrane can decrease just from inadequate levels of water in the body.”  P.  152

“Surrounded as we are by a world of stimuli, high membrane polarity gives us a choice.  It takes more of a stimulus to activate a nerve impulse, so we can choose what stimuli we wish to focus our attention on and not be distracted by irrelevant stimuli.  As we will see, this enhances selective focus for increased learning, strengthens immunity and health, and protects against the effects of external electromagnetic fields.”  P. 152

“Coffee, tea, chocolate, and alcohol are all diuretics.”  P. 155  [Diuretics cause the body to expel water.  Caffeine is also a diuretic – be wary of giving children “energy” drinks or colas with caffeine.]

“… a mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, low energy, grogginess, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.”  P. 156

“… drinking a lot of water all at once, may cause important salts and minerals to be washed out of the digestive system before they can be absorbed, thus decreasing the body’s electrolyte balance.  It is better to sip water throughout the day.”  P. 156

“… anything that decreases membrane polarity damages the functioning of the nervous system.”  P. 157

“Proteins in our diet form albumins which hold water in the blood, preventing it from seeping out just anywhere, and assuring that it will arrive where it is most needed, usually the brain.”  P. 157

“An important longitudinal study over 28 years showed that drinking five or more glasses of water daily decreases the risk of fatal heart disease by half.  This supports other research that shows drinking five glasses of water a day decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, decreases the risk of breast cancer by 70%, and decreases bladed cancer by 50%.”  P. 157

“The brain makes up only one-fiftieth of the body’s weight and yet it uses an amazing one fifth of the body’s oxygen.”  P. 158

“… increased water intake increases the capacity of hemoglobin (a large protein that depends on adequate water supply for its structural integrity) to carry oxygen by one hundred to one thousand times.  Hemoglobin is the iron-bearing pigment in red blood cells that caries oxygen.”  P. 158

“ATP traps energy from food and makes it available to structures within the cell, such as the sodium-potassium pump.  Interesting… ATP may be low in patients with depression and Alzheimer’s disease.  This ATP deficiency may be due in part to inadequate oxygen uptake and distribution to the cells, caused in turn by low levels of water in the system.”  P. 158

“… found that getting inactive men and women in their fifties and sixties, on a four month brisk walking program increased their performance on mental ability tasks by 10%.  .... active rats had 20% more blood vessels in their brains than sedentary ones.  Movement facilitates the development of increased blood vessels that carry learning-essential water, oxygen, and nutrients to the brain.”  P. 159

 “The importance of drinking water in order to maintain adequate, balanced electrolyte concentrations for high polarity across all the cellular membranes, cannot be overestimated.  Water is an essential ingredient in maintaining the body’s natural EMF’s against these external fields.”  P. 163

(Please see the book for a full listing of the information.)

Parents may want to look to make sure their child is properly hydrated.  The color of urine is one way to tell.  http://www.foxnews.com/health/2014/03/14/what-color-your-urine-reveals-about/?intcmp=obnetwork   (Food dyes and/or Vitamin B supplements may affect urine color.)  A skin pinch is another way to check for hydration: http://www.ivillage.com/forums/pregnancy-parenting/coffee-break/time-out-me/lets-chat/are-you-dehydrated-heres-quick-test 

Here are the Mayo Clinic’s symptoms of dehydration: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/basics/symptoms/con-20030056

As always, the information in these notes is to increase your awareness of factors potentially impacting attention.  Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle is encouraged, but this is not say that one should consider it a substitute for professional care.  Parents & Guardians who are working with a qualified professional &/or doctor regarding a child’s attention issues should continue doing such.  Should you suspect hydration plays a role in attention issues, discuss such with them and see what modifications – if any - are appropriate.  Parents of children with attention issues who have not yet gone to a doctor are still encouraged to do so.  If you suspect hydration is an issue, bring such up with them.    

Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School

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