Sat, Jan 18, 2020 - Page 4 News List

Water consumption could affect elders’ cognitive function

By Lin Hui-chin and Dennis Xie  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A US study that found overhydration and underhydration could affect cognitive performance among older people has won the backing of local doctors, who suggest that most people should drink at least 2 liters of water per day.

In a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, Pennsylvania State University researchers said they found that lower hydration levels among older women were associated with lower scores on motor speed, sustained attention and working memory.

The team reviewed data collected through nutrition and health surveys done by a nationally representative sample of 2,506 people aged 60 or older to determine the association between water intake and cognitive function among older adults.

After accounting for age, physical activity, hours of sleep and diabetes, the team found an association between hydration and poorer cognitive performance in women, but not for men.

Huang Kuo-chin (黃國晉), dean of National Taiwan University Hospital’s Beihu branch, said that underhydration could cause an electrolyte imbalance, which makes one sluggish and hinders cognitive function, while overhydration among people with chronic illnesses, such as heart failure or cirrhosis, could lead to poorer cognitive function.

More research in this area is needed, Huang said.

Adults should drink at least 2 liters of water a day, and increase their intake if they have darker urine or a fever, he said.

People with chronic illnesses such as heart failure should ask their doctors about the proper daily amount.

Chen Ying-jen (陳英仁), a geriatric specialist at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, earlier this month said that older people drink less water, with some finding the taste repulsive due to changes in the taste buds or because they want to reduce their need to go to the bathroom due to limited mobility or incontinence.

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