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Good health goes beyond losing weight in the New Year

While many New Year’s resolutions will focus on weight loss, good health goes beyond counting calories to include getting enough sleep and water.

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It is a brand-new year and some folks feel a lot of short-term energy with a desire for immediate change. But the deeper, more difficult changes, like creating lasting long-term health, are not available for quick fixes. Long-term results will come from a foundation of sleeping regularly and drinking plenty of water, a daily commitment to an improved diet and the increase of any form of regular physical activity. Over time, diet and exercise will lead to a healthier weight for the individual and greater success throughout the year. But, for many, diet and exercise are obvious while getting plenty of sleep and drinking plenty of water fall by the wayside.

Get a good night’s sleep every night

The basics lead to healthy weight loss and that starts with a good night’s sleep. Less than a full night’s sleep, generally between seven and nine hours, can increase obesity rates. With the loss of sleep comes poor eating choices and reduced voluntary activity. Generally speaking, loss of sleep is bad and tends to lead to other bad habits.

In extreme cases, the negative effects of sleep loss are often exhibited by those who work the third shift and find daily sleep habits difficult to maintain. Some of those negative effects are revealed in diets full of sugar and quick fixes. Conversely, healthy diets emphasizing complex carbs and fiber-rich diets can help night workers maintain more regular sleep patterns.

In any diet, less sleep leads to a lessened ability to make smart food choices. In addition, one’s brain reward centers respond more strongly to quick stimuli so being short on sleep leads to an increase in junk and comfort foods. Lack of sleep has also been correlated with eating larger portions.

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Lack of sleep can also negatively affect how one’s body processes food. Sleep deprivation can lead to a spike in the stress hormone cortisol which causes one’s body to conserve fat as a form of fuel. Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis can help reverse such negative cycles.

Drink water regularly

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps to disconnect the automatic reach for a soft drink or other unhealthy sources of fluids. Lots of fluids are needed throughout one’s day and plain old water is the healthiest option to include as a regular part of one’s diet. Drinking water helps one lose weight in a variety of ways according to a Healthline overview.

Drinking water leads to an increase in resting energy expenditure, a sign of calories burned. Within 10 minutes of drinking water, the resting energy expenditure of adults can increase between 24 and 30 percent. This effect can last for up to 60 minutes. Drinking water can even have a positive effect on resting energy expenditure without additional exercise.

Freshwater can power your New Year! (Source)

Drinking water before meals can help decrease the weight of older adults. Multiple studies have shown a correlation between weight loss and drinking water before meals at different times of days. However, for still unknown reasons, this correlation has only been observed with older adults.

Drinking more water can be used to reduce the intake of sweetened drinks, especially those sweetened with sugar, and thus reduce calorie intake leading to weight loss. School kids provided with easy access to drinking fountains along with encouragement to drink more water also showed a reduction of obesity by year’s end.

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Beyond losing weight to better health

Adequate sleep and water intake combine to support better health beyond weight maintenance. Both will help one maintain good health throughout the year to support all one’s activities. Here are some ways that getting enough sleep and sufficient water go beyond weight loss aids.

According to examples gathered on WebMD, getting plenty of sleep can help:

1) lower one’s likelihood of contracting many health problems
2) lead to a better sex life
3) lower pain and increase one’s pain threshold
4) reduce the likelihood of small accidents due to sleep deprivation
5) improve mood
6) lead to more leptin and fewer feelings of hunger
7) improve memory
8) lead to clearer thinking
9) increase immunity

And, based on information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water can help:

1) maintain a normal temperature
2) joints self-lubricate
3) protect sensitive tissues like the spinal cord
4) remove wastes through multiple avenues

Taken as a whole, sleep and water are a key part of maintaining one’s health as a total system. Getting adequate sleep and plenty of water do not only affect one’s daily performance, both also play a role in long-term health and self-care.

Arturo Garcia is a Peruvian-Filipino financial journalist. He is a self-confessed football fan. He started out as a political writer for a local daily in Peru, but now focuses on tech and business. Arturo studied Economics at Unibersidad de Lima and currently lives at an apartment in Salinas Valley, Northern California, exactly 725 meters from John Steinbeck’s hometown.

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