Hydration still important during cold weather


Hydration still important during cold weather

Just because cold temperatures may have overtaken where you live, does not mean keeping hydrated should be an afterthought. In fact, hydration is as important in cold winter months as it is during hot, humid days of summer. You may not feel yourself breaking out in a sweat like you do during warm weather but drinking a sufficient amount of water matters. We can’t store or make water and each day it must be replaced as we constantly lose it through our urine, feces, sweat, skin and lungs.  Most of us could go for weeks without eating food but would last only a few days without water.   

Our body is made up of about two-thirds water and no matter what time of year it is, we still need a sufficient supply of it to prevent dehydration.

Unsurprisingly, exposure to cold can reduce the body’s thirst sensation by up to 40 percent.  This makes it even more vital to be aware of your hydration status during cold weather.

A reason why drinking plenty of water when temperatures drop is that when we are cold, our blood vessels constrict to prevent blood from flowing freely to the extremities like our fingers and toes. The body is essentially trying to keep the core of our body warm by redirecting more blood to that area.  Since you don’t feel very thirsty, you are drinking less water even though you still lose fluid through perspiration, urination, and sweat. 

Also, we tend to bundle up during colder months to conserve body heat – long underwear, long sleeve shirts, hooded sweatshirts, and heavy coats which make our bodies work about 10-40 percent harder because of added weight.  This leads to increased perspiration and sweat resulting in more fluid loss.

To avoid any possibility of dehydration, here are some tips you can use during the fall and winter to make sure you’re meeting your water intake:

·      Drink adequate fluids including water

It goes without saying that drinking water during cold months is a must.  You may not notice it but you still sweat and perspire even on a cold day.  There is always the daily loss of water through urination – if adequately hydrated your urine should be very pale.  If it is dark, this indicates you are dehydrated and you should drink more water.

Water consumption guidelines vary from person to person depending on age, activity level, weight, and gender.  Here are water intake guidelines for both men and women:

If you are sedentary – drink between 8-12 cups of water daily

If you exercise – drink between 8-14 cups of water daily

·      Consume foods with a high water content

Our food choices make a difference to keeping ourselves hydrated.  Certain foods have a high water content and can be counted towards your total daily fluid intake.  Consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day to help contribute to your water needs. Here are a few examples of produce that can rehydrate your body:

·      All berries

·      Watermelon

·      Apples

·      Grapes

·      Pears

·      Oranges

·      Celery

·      Cucumbers

·      Tomatoes

·      Grapefruit

·      Broccoli

·      Take advantage of warm beverages and soups

On a cold night (or day), drinking warm beverages of caffeine-free tea or coffee, or cocoa can be a fun and delicious way keeping yourself hydrated.  Making a batch of soup is another great way to obtain adequate fluids - if it’s vegetable, chicken noodle or minestrone, they will also provide important nutrients from their healthy ingredients.   

·      Be familiar with signs of dehydration 

Sometimes a person may have certain symptoms of dehydration but not realize that is the cause.  These symptoms may include fatigue, lightheadedness, and irritability. Another sign of dehydration is dark, concentrated, strong-smelling urine.  Urine should be light yellow or clear so be sure to monitor the color and amount of urine your body is producing.  

·      Remember certain fluids dehydrate the body 

These fluids include alcohol, carbonated beverages, and caffeinated drinks, including sports drinks and energy drinks. Water is still the best hydrating beverage there is.