Need a New Year’s resolution you’ll actually keep? Drink more water


By Connie Lin

It’s January, which means the holiday feasts of indulgence have passed, and it’s now time to face the colder, more bitter part of winter: Starting the hard work to better yourself in the new year.

But here’s something to celebrate: It doesn’t have to be that hard. It could be as easy as drinking more water.

That’s according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which just published a study in The Lancet showing that adults who stay well-hydrated seem to be healthier—and live longer—than those who don’t. Specifically, they develop fewer chronic conditions, such as heart and lung disease. That’s coming from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute division.

In a sprawling study that tracked 11,255 adults over a 30-year period, researchers found that adults with lower serum sodium levels (a measure of how much sodium is in your blood, which goes down when you drink more water) were less likely to show signs of advanced biological aging or dying at a younger age. (“Biological aging” was determined by a confluence of factors, including cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.) In other words, enough water might just be the fountain of youth.

“The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life,” study author Natalia Dmitrieva, a researcher in the NIH’s Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine, said in a statement.

Past studies have drawn links between high serum sodium levels—present in dehydrated people—and heightened risk of heart failure and heart disease. Now, this new study expands that risk of ills to include artery disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes, and dementia, to which patients were up to 64% more likely to fall victim.

Thus, lowering serum sodium levels is a smart goal. And while this study’s findings prove only correlation and not causation, experts agree it can’t hurt to drink more water. Drinking liquids in addition to water, such as tea, or eating fruits and vegetables with high water content, are tastefully sneaky ways to up your fluid intake. The National Academies of Medicine recommends that people consume between 6 and 12 cups of water daily.

But few people actually do: According to estimates, about half of people worldwide don’t achieve the suggested daily fluid intake. If you’re among them, this might be the perfect first step on your journey to self-improvement.

And as a reward for your hard work, you can look forward to: clearer thinking, calmer moods, a cooler body, a more regulated digestive system, smoother joints, and steadier weight control. Now, go get it!

Fast Company