The human brain is like no other in terms of its ability to simultaneously synthesize information and carry out complex tasks on a regular basis. While it would be naive to say that we fully understand its interrelationship with the rest of the body and our environment, modern research has made great strides to elucidate its various structures and functions. Here is a brief look at our current understanding of cognitive function and the risk factors that threaten its well-being. While a focus on memory is highlighted, all aspects of cognitive performance including language, reaction time, focus, mood and information
While our bodies are finely tuned, energy efficient, high power, recycling machines, waste is still created. Some waste is simply produced when there is an excess of a nutrient or molecule that our body does not, or cannot, use or store. Some is produced by our cells as they make more energy, or as by-products of regular cell functioning. With each process, our body must do something with the waste – either recycle it or get rid of it, as holding on to these wastes products can be harmful. Luckily, our body has adapted not one but four methods of excreting such wastes, through the bowels, kidneys, skin, and lungs . Today we will delve into how our kidneys are the most sophisticated filtration system created.
Urine is the substance through which our bodies excrete waste that is dissolved in the blood. The kidneys filter out nitrogenous wastes, in the form of urea, along with water, sugar, salts and toxins. Depending on our needs the kidneys will filter, reabsorb, and secrete. All of this to create the perfect composition of urine. If we are over hydrated the kidneys dilute the urine, while if we have low blood pressure they may increase water resorption to increase blood volume and cardiac output. The composition of urine can tell us a lot about kidney function and over-all health. Further, the frequency, urgency and volume are important indicators of health.
The chart above illustrates just how much water intake influences kidney function. The business of being busy usually results in basic healthy behaviours going by the wayside. It is frighteningly simple to go all day without a proper glass of water. So, we have compiled a list of easy ways to keep yourself hydrated.
- Keep a bottle on you at all times. Water bottles have become a fashion accessory, and there is a plethora of designs, shapes, and materials available. If you don’t want to invest in a new bottle you can take an old large mason jar and measure out different volumes of water. Mark each volume and associate a certain volume with a particular time of day. For example, by four pm you have had five cups of water. Either way you do it, the goal is that water is always accessible.
- Give yourself a reminder. Sometimes you just forget to drink water. Luckily, technology has provided multiple options for trackers and alarms. These applications on your smartphone can be customized to remind you to drink water and measure how much water you need. They are generally simple and have attractive interfaces. If you want to avoid technology you can try the rubber band method. Add a rubber band to your drinking cup every time you have a cup until you have reached eight to ten. Stay diligent about your water consumption for at least two weeks. This helps develop the habit, and improve the likelihood of continuing.
- Spice it up. While water is essential for all life, it isn’t as glamourous as the nectar of the gods and can become monotonous. For those of you who require excitement for your pallets you can opt for fruit or herb infused water. You can add various combinations of fruit to an infuser or just add directly to water to add some flavour.