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Drink Up: Water May Boost Brain's Reaction Time by 14 Percent

Update Date: Jul 18, 2013 04:08 AM EDT

Drinking water daily has many benefits - from flushing the system of toxins to keeping a person hydrated - and now researchers of a small study found that those who drank water before performing a task had 14 percent faster reaction time.

In the study, participants who drank about three cups of water (24 ounces, or 775 milliliters) before taking a battery of cognitive tests had a better reaction compared to those that did not drink water. The effect is particularly marked if a person is thirsty, according to the study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

The findings emphasizes how even mild dehydration can negatively affect a person's mental performance, the scientists say. Those who said they weren't thirsty were equally quick at the test of reaction time with or without the water.

Dr Caroline Edmonds, a psychologist at the University of East London who led study, said: "Reaction time seemed to be most affected by water, particularly if the people were thirsty.

"It might be because when you are thirsty, it diverts your attention away from the task at hand. This would be important for people at work or who need to concentrate.

The researchers performed the experiment on 34 men and women who completed a number of mental tests twice - once after a breakfast of just a cereal bar and again after a cereal bar washed down with a bottle of water.

"There are also hormonal theories about how dehydration affects the brain and it is possible that water is fixing an imbalance there too.

"Around 80 per cent of the brain is water, so it is clearly important to make sure it gets enough."

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