Water … your best habit for 2016

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We are two weeks into 2016.  Resolutions have been made.  Some are already broken. Some are in full swing. Some are faltering.  Health and fitness tend to be two of the most popular resolutions each year.  But we often set the bar too high.   Or we just don’t know where to start.  Getting any change to stick needs commitment, focus … and baby steps.  There is no point setting yourself up for a fall.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could do something simple to kick start your New Year regime? Something that would help with a number of health, fitness and wellbeing goals?

Is there a magic bullet?

Water!

Not quite a magic bullet ... but the most beneficial nutrient we can put into our bodies. Although this is not new news, how many of us drink enough? And how many of us understand how it can help?

How much is enough?

It depends!

The amount you need to drink is affected by a number of factors:  Your age; Your health; Where you live (you probably need more in warmer climates and at higher altitudes); Your size; Activity levels (the more active you are, the more water you need); What else you are eating and drinking (coffee and alcohol will dehydrate you, but eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables – which are 90% water – will hydrate you).

The latest guidelines for women (Mayo Clinic) recommend 8 glasses of water a day (note these are guidelines – not scientifically proven quantities). That’s approximately 2 litres a day.

One way to calculate the right amount of water for your body size, is to divide your weight in kilos by 30. This will give you the litres you need per day. So if you are 60 kgs, you will need a minimum of 2 litres per day, which you need to tweak for location, climate, activity and diet.

It is not a pure science … just be aware and adjust accordingly.

How does water help?

Water is probably the cheapest anti-aging, weight-controlling, energy-boosting, cleansing potion you can get your hands on!  Here’s why.

It is anti-aging – physically and mentally

Water passes essential nutrients around the body; it regulates our body temperatures; it removes wastes and toxins; and it maintains the skin’s moisture balance, keeping it soft and elastic.  Our brain has one of the body’s highest concentrations of water – almost 85%. If the brain becomes dehydrated, we can’t function at our peak. Keeping hydrated helps concentration and short-term memory.

It helps with weight loss

Many of us snack when we are actually thirsty! Drinking sufficient quantities of water helps suppress appetite. It also reduces fluid retention, because the body is getting enough fluid and doesn’t need to store it. It helps the body burn stored fat by helping the liver metabolise fat more efficiently. And it helps boost your metabolism.  A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking water (about 500 mls) increases metabolic rate by 30 percent in healthy men and women. The boost occurred within 10 minutes but reached a maximum 30-40 minutes after drinking.

Let’s not forget it’s zero calories (if you are counting).

It helps you train more effectively

Clearly you need to replace any fluids you lose during a workout. But being sufficiently hydrated, helps you train harder and more efficiently. Water helps deliver oxygen to your muscles and enables your body to function more effectively during a workout. If muscles are well hydrated they function better and are more likely to develop in strength and capacity.

It clears your skin

Suffer from acne, or dry, flaky skin? Water helps reduce symptoms of acne, and helps provide elasticity in skin. It also flushes out toxins, removing bacteria and dirt from the skin.

It boosts energy

Vital organs and bodily systems need water to function effectively.  Dehydration, even slightly, can leave you feeling tired and fatigued.  And when tired, you are more likely to reach for a sugary pick-me-up or to skip a workout.  A couple of glasses of water is a quick fix, restoring energy levels and productivity.

Ideas to help you drink more

Sometimes drinking plain old water can be bit boring.  Here are five ideas to help you up your intake.

  1. Drink throughout the day. Sounds obvious. Carry around a bottle and sip on it throughout the day.  If you have it with you, it becomes a habit.
  2. Drink at least one glass before you go to sleep at night and another when you wake up. Even when you sleep, you perspire and dehydrate. Drinking a glass when you wake up kick-starts your system.
  3. Sex it up! Add some natural flavours to your water and make it more interesting – fruits and herbs are ideal and easy. They add subtle flavour without the sugar content of a fruit juice.
  4. Substitute a glass or two of water for coconut water. It gets extra health points because it contains some electrolytes (although it also includes fruit sugars). The best ones to go for are unpasteurised, unflavoured, 100% coconut water.
  5. Make some flavoured ice cubes using fruits and herbs or coconut water and drop a couple into your glass for a little zing.

Enjoy! And happy hydration!

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