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Fool the brain with hydration

Updated: Mar 9

The nerves on the tip of the tongue are directly connected to the brain stem, a crucial hub that directs basic bodily processes. The tongue and the brain communicate constantly, which we can use to ward off anxiety.

Dry mouth

Have you noticed that your mouth and tongue are dry during periods of anxiety and stress? This is because anxiety and stress affect the salivary glands causing a dry mouth. When the tongue and brain communicate, a dry mouth confirms to the brain that it needs to stay alert and respond to stress. (See below for information on the stress response better known as fight or flight).


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Bio hack

But what if the mouth was not dry? What would happen? When the tongue and brain communicate, if the mouth is moist, it would confirm to the brain that there is no need to be alert. Deliberately keeping your mouth hydrated will signal your brain to ensure everything is okay and that no stress response is required. The brain will not initiate the stress response due to a dry mouth, and we can trick the brain into thinking everything is okay in the mouth and begin to control how we feel.


Dehydration

Dehydration contributes to anxiety and nervousness, and it is linked to a rise in cortisol levels, the hormones that increase stress. So stay one step ahead of your brain and always stay hydrated. It is an easy thing you can do to help yourself and control your mental health.


 


Fight or flight - the stress response and anxiety


The body has a protection system that has not yet evolved and acts the same way it did thousands of years ago. When it senses danger, it triggers a stress response intended to keep you alive. The type of danger was generally from animals or other humans, requiring physical action. Just imagine being chased by a sabre tooth tiger or attacked by a member of your tribe; running or fighting would be the only way to survive. Therefore, this response is called the ‘fight or flight’ response.

This response is carried out by the subconscious part of your brain also known as the unconscious. The subconscious mind works much faster than the conscious mind; it is approximately 1 million times more powerful. The subconscious part of your brain reacts immediately in this situation because its purpose is to keep you alive.

When your protection system senses a threat, it triggers a series of reactions in your body that ultimately create and pump adrenaline around your body. This prepares you for the immediate action of fighting or fleeing the situation. The adrenaline causes a change in body temperature and blood pressure. Blood is diverted away from parts of the body, such as digestion and frontal lobes and towards the arms and legs. There is no need for the digestive system to work hence the dry mouth, or for the brain to think logically at that exact moment because all the body cares about is enabling you to fight or run away. It just needs your arms and legs to work.

If a real physical threat triggers the stress response, running or fighting would utilise the adrenaline. In today’s society, the danger is usually perceived and not physical, which means the adrenaline and other chemicals the body creates are not used up. The effects of adrenaline running through the system include dry mouth, funny tummy, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, sweating and palpitations.


A more details explanation of the stress response can be found here.

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