Frost glitters on the ground, brown leaves rattle in the trees and the air is dry, dry, dry! Winter, with its abundance of colds and flu, is coming on fast.
Did you know dehydration happens just as easily in winter as in the heat of summer? As you move about in the cold, you may not be sweating, but water vapor is still being lost through your breath (that’s the steam you see streaming from your mouth in frigid temperatures.)
Winter can also accelerate dehydration because mammals have a survival mechanism that constricts blood vessels in cold weather, to conserve heat and maintain body temperature. Blood vessels shrinking increases blood pressure. To lower the pressure, your kidneys make more urine, meaning less blood to fill veins and arteries, more frequent trips to the bathroom and greater risk of dehydration.
Winter Dehydration is Hard on Your Health and Your Weight
Winter or summer, dehydration can cause exhaustion, muscle fatigue, cramps, loss of coordination and even a stroke. When dehydrated, you can also become more susceptible to winter colds and flu.
Not drinking enough water can also make it harder to keep extra pounds off during the shorter days when we tend to exercise less and eat more. When hydrated, your body is better able to break down fat for energy, your appetite is better controlled (it’s important to note that we often think we are hungry when we are really just thirsty). Also, if your body doesn’t get adequate water it holds the water it already has, so sufficient hydration is key to avoiding fluid retention.
Hot or Cold, Drink More Water Through the Winter
As you know, being thirsty is a signal that your body is already on its way to becoming dehydrated. Another indication that you should be hitting your water bottle more heavily is urine that is not clear or light-colored.
One rule of thumb is to aim to drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces – that means 140 pound woman should aim to drink 70 ounces of water per day.
Balance out diuretics with water. Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics (they cause more water loss through urine) so when having either, have extra water to balance the dehydrating effect. Try drinking decaffeinated coffee or tea as well.
Water-based foods count! Fruits and vegetables are a natural source of water, along with valuable vitamins and minerals. Soups too, of course!
Cut back on sodium. Salty foods can make you excessively thirsty and can also lead to bloating.
Drink before, during and after exercise. This is harder because when it’s cold outside you may not sweat much or feel too thirsty. But it’s necessary!
Add flavor to plain water without a ton of calories or salt. Try adding fresh slices of fruit or a splash of all natural 100% juice to your water to provide a variety of flavors and a small boost of natural Vitamin C.
This winter, keep the water flowing for your best health.