One Habit that Can Change Your Health

We are all overwhelmed. Doing the best, we can. But our health is important, now more than ever. So, if you could only do one thing to improve your health, what would it be?

By Richard Williams ~

One Habit Cover 2 1

We all want to be healthy. But the biggest mistake we make is we try to change too much, all at once. We start a workout routine, getting up early, completely switching up our diet, and sleeping early – all at once. When we take on a lot of new habits all at once, we tend to get overwhelmed. It is natural for us to slide back into our old routines when too many things change all at once.

To develop a healthy lifestyle, we need to develop habits that stick – sustainably and over time. We also need to look for habits that are easier to adapt to but make a substantial impact on our health. Basically, the 80/20 rule. What can get you 80% of the results with 20% of the effort?

If your goal is to develop healthy habits, then we have that one habit you can start with that will change your health. It is easy, effective, straightforward, and cheap (and free for the most part).

Start drinking more water.

We know, we know. You’ve heard this before a million times. But think for a moment. Have you ever followed that advice religiously? Have you ever just tried to build this one habit, and no other habit at the same time? We know it sounds too easy to be of real impact. But hear us out. There is enough research and evidence that drinking more water could be the silver bullet for many health issues. There are many medical professionals that recommend drinking more water.

Benefits of drinking more water - Lifeism

Take, for instance, Jennifer Ashton, MD. She is the author of The Self-Care Solution. She regularly recommends that patients drink more water because she knows very well how beneficial it is. But even this did not prevent her from going to the hospital due to ... dehydration. If a renowned doctor was unable to keep up with her hydration needs, it's possible for us to get dehydrated as well.

If you drink a few cups of coffee every day, then you need to drink even more water. Coffee throws out water from our systems, making us more dehydrated. Alcohol also has the same effect. Given the circumstances; we likely do not drink enough water either.

Not convinced?

Here are some more benefits of drinking more water.

Relieves headaches.

Our bodies are made of 60% water on average, but our brains are 73% water, and it needs more fluids for functioning. If we do not have enough water in our bodies, our brains can shrink - in the physical sense of the word. When our body is dehydrated, it borrows water from our brain cells to perform important actions and hence causes our brain to shrink and limit its functions. This causes headaches of varying intensity, from mild to full-blown migraines. Dehydration also leads to constriction of blood vessels, which increases any pain.

You don't have to be clinically dehydrated to get a headache - even mild dehydration can cause discomfort. But if you suffer from frequent headaches, try drinking more throughout the day and throughout the week. You will feel better instantly.

Aids weight management.

We often think that our food is the major cause of our weight gain. We tend to miss the other worthy cause – unhealthy drinks. What we drink reflects on our waistlines. Lemonade, juice, fancy coffee drinks, and even smoothies are high in sugar and calories and exceptionally low in healthy proteins, fats, and dietary fiber. As a result, our blood insulin levels rise, and the body starts to store fat.

But that’s not all. You see, we overlook fluids in our diet so much that what we don't drink can also hurt our waistlines. Inadequate water intake increases appetite and can affect metabolism, hormone levels, exercise ability, and control for food cravings. Part of the problem is that the appetite-related area of the brain also controls thirst. When we are dehydrated, this area becomes overloaded and starts sending us signals. These signals for thirst and hunger are the same. They can easily be misinterpreted as a need for a snack instead of water.

Dehydration also disrupts healthy metabolism. According to some reports, even mild dehydration slows the body's ability to burn calories. Increasing the amount of water you drink, regardless of the degree of dehydration, can temporarily boost your metabolism by 30%. The consumption of icy water speeds up the metabolism even more since the liquid must be warmed up to body temperature so that it can be absorbed. This is an added waste of energy - the basics of thermodynamics!

Helps our heart function.

We hear a lot about how poor nutrition, being overweight, family history, and environmental pollution increase the risk of heart disease, but few talk about another common cause - dehydration. Chronic dehydration reduces blood volume, constricting blood vessels, and causes the heart to work harder to drive blood through the body.

Nearly half of stroke survivors suffer from dehydration, and for this reason, heart attacks most often occur in the morning. There is evidence that mild dehydration can disrupt the heart in much the same way as a cigarette. Therefore, complete prevention of dehydration can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 59% in women and 46% in men.

Keeps our skin young.

If you suffer from dry and irritated skin, breakouts, pale complexion, water is the answer. Water helps prevent and even reverse the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.

So does drinking more water help acne? Yes and here is why. Lack of water limits the body's ability to eliminate toxins that accumulate in skin cells. This makes our skin break out more often and look aged. We then tend to develop eczema, psoriasis, and skin discoloration. Drinking more water should help in clearing out acne and other skin ailments.

Gives more energy.

Drinking more water can give us another benefit: increased energy. Science has documented that even mild dehydration leads to lethargy, irritability, and fatigue, making us perceive the current tasks as more complex than they are. Dehydration can even make it difficult to concentrate. When this gets severe, it can also lead to hyperexcitability and mood swings over time. But a simple glass of water every now and then will help you stay focused and charged.

Makes us smarter.

Since our brain is 73% water, it should come as no surprise that preventing dehydration can help improve cognitive function. Even 1% dehydration can negatively affect the ability to think. Adequate prevention of dehydration increases the brain's ability to concentrate and retain information. Research shows that 8 to 10 cups of water increase the brain's ability to think and work by 30%.

Helps dental hygiene.

When we are dehydrated, we produce less saliva. This promotes bacterial growth and plaque build-up on our teeth, cheeks, and tongue. This build-up leads to bad breath and tooth decay over time. The risk of gum diseases and other oral problems also increases. When this gets severe, inadequate drinking of water can make it difficult to swallow food. If you wear dentures, braces, or other oral aids, they can become even more uncomfortable when you are dehydrated.

Tips to Drinking More Water

In theory, drinking more is not difficult: it requires neither physical nor mental effort. However, this task cannot be called simple either: only a few people fully satisfy the body's daily hydration need. Here are some tips to help you drink more water throughout the day.

Tips for drinking more water - Lifeism
  1. Decide your magic number. There are many formulas to get to how much water you should be drinking. If you want to just start with a number, start with the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Broadly speaking, IOM recommends that women consume 2.7 liters and men 3.7 liters of water per day through food and drink.
    While food does give us some amount of water on consumption, about 80% of it needs to still be, well, the water we drink. Try to avoid drinks that contain sugar, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, or other additives. When you are getting your daily hydration quota.
  2. Make a plan. Once you decide on a number, write it down with your daily tasks. Find a water bottle you really like. You are going to carry this everywhere you go. Make sure its lid is liquid-tight, so it does not spill in your bag. Estimate how much water this bottle can hold and arrive at the formula to get to your consumption goals.
    You can also track your water consumption using mobile apps. There are many hydration apps on iOS as well as Android that can help you track your hydration. These apps can also remind you to drink water based on your inputs.
  3. Determine your preferences. You might be surprised, but water is somewhat similar to wine - it has many different tastes and variations. Taking the time to find what you like will make the habit more stable and enjoyable.
    Experiment with different temperatures - ice cold, cold, warm, and even hot, with varying types of water - from the tap, filtered, carbonated, or bottled. Try to flavor the water with lemon, lime, grapefruit, cucumber, mint - fruits, vegetables, herbs. There are original recipes on the Internet that use strawberries, ginger, and rose petals to tomatoes, fennel, and lavender. See what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  4. Drink before you snack. Every time you feel hungry, drink 250ml of water first. This will ensure that you are not misreading the thirst signal for a hunger signal. If you are still hungry after, then grab a healthy snack. This will ensure that you don’t overeat as well.
  5. Study your urine. Don't be afraid to stare at the liquid that comes out of you - this is one of the best ways to assess your health. If you drink enough water and are healthy, your urine should be straw-colored - like a sweat stain on a white T-shirt. If it is darker, has a rich yellow, brown, or even burgundy color - you are not drinking enough water. If you regularly consume the IOM recommended amount, but your urine is still dark, you probably need more because of your other lifestyle factors like coffee, tea, or alcohol consumption. You may even have liver, kidney, or bladder problems, and you should make an appointment with your doctor right away.
  6. Invest in a water filter. If you are concerned about the quality of your tap water or don't like its taste, buy a filter that can give hard or overly mineralized water the same taste as bottled water from the supermarket. Filter water is even better than store water - it doesn't spend a lot of time in plastic containers, which reduces your interaction with the plastic toxins. Try to find the filter that works best for your budget and purifying needs. And remember to change it per the manufacturer's recommendations.
  7. Get an accountability partner. Many, many studies have shown that having an accountability partner can increase your chances of success. We know, it's just water. But we illustrated how important it is to drink enough water. Ask your spouse, colleague, or friend to hold you accountable. Share simple updates with each other every day to track progress.
  8. Drink while you wait. We spend a lot of time waiting in our lives. Be it at the gas station, wait for the laptop to boot, waiting for a response to our text, or even waiting for our food to heat. Use that time to drink more water. Brewing your morning coffee? Grab your water bottle.
  9. Make it social. Make the most of social media. Do you find yourself scrolling IG or Pinterest? Swiping up on those reels and pinning to your boards? No problem, use the time to drink more water. Watching Netflix? Keep a bottle of water next to you and sip on it. More scrolling = more water.

Final thoughts.

Preventing dehydration is a tiny investment with enormous health benefits. If you feel like you haven't taken a sip in a while, remind yourself what water gives your body: it nourishes the brain, unclogs the veins and the heart It also flushes the kidneys, softens the skin, tightens muscles, fills the stomach, speeds up metabolism and supports all other organs and physical functions in the body. So many reasons to take another sip.

ONE LAST THING: Drink a glass of water right now!

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