The Best New Year's Resolution is to Drink Water
How you can jumpstart the New Year with water
It’s likely that in January you will find yourself in more conversations than you can count about health. This is in part because the lion’s share of New Year’s resolutions focus on health. Whether you’re trying to make changes in your professional life, socialize more, eat better, exercise regularly, or imbibe less, at the core, you’re really talking about emotional, physical, or mental health.
I’m here to tell you that not only are these goals achievable, but you can take big steps in the right direction to accomplish all of them just by focusing on one thing – drinking more water.
Everyone knows that hydration is essential to being healthy, but it’s hard to comprehend the extent to which water benefits your body. Worry not; becoming the “new you” for next year is closer than you think.
Let’s get physical
There are a few reasons that drinking water is good for your physical health, but let’s start with the basics.
The human body is 60% water and it uses this water to power a number of bodily functions including digestion, absorption of nutrients, circulation, and moderation of body temperature. The brain works with the posterior pituitary gland (a small gland at the base of the skull that senses the body’s needs) to tell the kidneys how much water to reserve for bodily functions and what amount can be let go as urine. Even mild dehydration can lead to a number of impaired functions so staying hydrated will help your body function efficiently. But there’s more to it than that.
Drinking water aids weight loss. A 2010 study published in Obesity found that middle aged adults who drank 500 mL of water before eating reduced-calorie meals lost more weight than adults who only ate a reduced-calorie diet. Findings suggested that drinking water before eating a meal resulted in smaller food portions throughout the day. While eating a reduced calorie diet is one way to lose weight, you may follow different dietary guidelines. Fortunately, that won’t affect the results. Drinking water regularly will lead to a reduction in weight, regardless of diet (low-carb, low-fat, whole food, etc.), sociodemographic variables, baseline weight, or physical activity.
Now you’re losing weight just by supplementing your diet with water, but perhaps you’d also like to be fit. Maybe your goals for the New Year include running a 5K or building strength with some weights. Before you reach for the Gatorade, keep in mind that although sports drinks are marketed as the key to optimizing your workout, that’s only true sometimes. Recent findings suggest that unless your workout is longer than an hour or you’re losing a significant amount of sweat, it makes more sense to just drink water. If someone exercises for less than an hour, or the exercise isn’t particularly strenuous, drinking a sports drink may be counterproductive and has been linked to weight gain and even obesity. On the flip side, drinking water during exercise can maintain peak performance, reduce your target heart rate, and lessen the likelihood of developing heat exhaustion.
Finally, there are quite a few positive side effects of water that you may benefit from in the long run, including headache prevention, reduced risk of heart disease, and regularity in bowel movements.
It’s all mental
Maybe you’re goal isn’t to improve physical fitness, but mental fitness – study for a new certification, change jobs, get a promotion, or finish the NYT crossword by yourself. Drinking a healthy amount of water will absolutely help you reach these goals as well.
Even moderate dehydration, measured as 2% of your body weight, will lead to impaired concentration and memory skills. If your body is 60% water, it follows that your brain is also made up of a significant amount of water (75% to be exact). When the brain is fully hydrated, it works optimally. A hydrated brain helps you think faster, focus for longer periods of time, avoid “brain fog”, and experience increased creativity. With the adequate preparation, water will help you rock your next interview, be a more active participant in your work meeting, or retain the information you need to complete that crossword puzzle.
Turn that mood ring blue
Sometimes, all you want for the New Year is to experience happiness, contentment, and emotional wellbeing. This is definitely easier said than done. But especially amidst the hustle and bustle of day-to-day stress, hydration can be one less thing to worry about. Studies have found that mild dehydration can cause tangible differences in mood. Or rather, staying hydrated can take you from a “meh” day to a-ok! Further, when people are mildly dehydrated, they perceive a problem as more difficult, which means you’ll use the same mental capacity to solve the problem, but it will feel harder when you’re mildly dehydrated.
There you have it. If you’re still mulling over your resolutions for the year ahead, it’s worth your while to consider adding hydration to your list.