One Way to Make a Big Difference to Your Health in 2022
Many people head into a new year wanting to make their health a priority. Lurching straight into a marathon carrying your hangover from New Year’s Eve is unlikely to lead to long term healthier habits, however. You’re more likely to see success with an incremental approach, building your strength and stamina over time, and supported by lots of other, smaller lifestyle changes to make your fitness goals more sustainable and achievable. With that in mind, we’re looking at one specific way you can make a big difference to health in 2022: hydration.
Why is Hydration Important
Your body is always using water, drawing from your fluid reserves, for vital processes. The one we all think of immediately is sweating, and while that’s vital temperature regulation, it’s only the most obvious of the many ways your body uses water. Water is used to cushion your brain, spine and other vital organs – if it didn’t, you’d incur serious damage simply from walking around. It also helps you digest and excrete food, absorb and distribute nutrients and minerals, and keep you focussed and alert. Dehydration has a surprisingly dramatic impact on your cognitive functions.
The Effects of Dehydration
While we could list the benefits of dehydration for pages, it might be more motivating to take a quick look at drawbacks of getting dehydrated. It can cause headaches, muscle cramps, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, dizziness, and even vomiting and unconsciousness. While it’s unlikely for you to progress this far on a normal day, heatwaves, sickness and hard physical work all put extra stress on your body and could lead you into a much more serious state of dehydration.
On a normal day, you don’t need to work too hard to stay hydrated: we get a lot of hydration from food, and from simply drinking when we’re thirsty and you don’t need to plan too hard to avoid dehydration. The NHS recommends 6-8 cups or glasses of healthy drinks per day, and when you see that their guide includes tea and coffee, fruit juice and limited soft drinks, it doesn’t seem so hard to keep your fluid levels at a healthy point. If you’re watching your weight, or on a particular diet, you may want to limit fruit juices and soft drinks, and so you’ll find yourself drinking more water or fruit infusions, but you can still provide plenty of variety throughout the day.
It’s Not Just Water
You also need to be aware of what you’re losing alongside the water that depletes with sweat, urination and even in your breath. Your body keeps salts called electrolytes dissolved in your water supply and they are just as important as the fluid itself! If you’re working out (or simply working hard), or you’re sick, make sure you have a rehydration to hand, like an isotonic sports drink or hydration tablets. These restore your electrolyte balance as well as topping up your water levels, and keep you operating at your best.