Importance of Hydrating Our Body in the Winter

The transition into winter is normally a joyful one. We step away from the beautiful colored leaves of fall as well as the chilly weather into even chillier weather. Winter, for many, is a joyous occasion for a myriad of reasons. It signifies a winter break coming up, a time to spend family and travel, as well as a way to enjoy the seasons and the advent of a new year. The winter season is a season of many joyous occasions filled with happiness and many wonderful holidays to look up to. One of the most common words associated with winter is also cold. The winter is marked as the coldest time of the year and for this reason, not many people seem to understand the importance of hydration even in these chilly 3 months. It seems to be a preconceived notion that the act of staying hydrated is more of a thing we must be aware of in the summer time given that we are more active and sweaty in the summer time and therefore losing more energy that we must replace, but this is not true. Hydration, even when its not hot and you aren’t sweating or immensely active, is still extremely important. This article will walk you through the understanding of why we must hydrate during the winter season and what we must do to stay hydrated through the holidays. Understanding this is of extreme importance, because let’s face it, no one wants to be sick on the holidays.
How Winter Can Affect Our Hydration

The tricky aspect about winter is that dehydration doesn’t really yell at you in the face during this time of the year, that is it isn’t as evident that our body is dehydrated during this season as it is during the summer. We understand that the summer and heat makes us sweat and lose fluid, and we have an understanding that since we have lost fluid, we need to replace what we’ve lost immediately. Yes this is true, but it would do one well to remember that sweating or having the hot sun beat down on you, isn’t the only reminder we should have that our body needs water. During the winter we tend to be not as active as the summer due to the weather, and this lack of activity sort of diminishes the actual feeling of thirst, but just because you don’t feel thirsty does not mean that your body is hydrated. Dehydration doesn’t always need to be signified by thirst. Sometimes dehydration isn’t shown in any way to us that will make us remember to drink water, and this is why it is very important to regularly remind ourselves to drink water even if our body isn’t really telling us that we need it. Now that begs the question, why do we not feel as thirsty in the winter when compared to other seasons? It is said that the body diminishes the feeling of thirst by up to 40%. This happens because in cold weather, it is natural for our body to respond by constricting our blood vessels. This constriction causes less blood to flow to the extremities (feet, hands, etc.) and more towards the core of our body. The moving of blood to the core of our body is extremely helpful in conserving heat. This method utilized to keep heat within the body actually tricks the body into believing that it is hydrated and that is why the body doesn’t feel thirsty nor does it retain or conserve water. In addition the winter season calls for warmer clothing and this can actually contribute to dehydration a well. The added weight of the clothes makes the body work 10-40% harder to conserve heat and this leads to fluid loss. When you step outside into the cold atmosphere and notice puffs of air when you breathe out, is actually a sign that you are losing water vapor (which is essentially fluid loss). Lastly it isn’t uncommon for a person to sweat during the winter. When physical exertion takes place, even in chilly weather, your body still sweats; however, the cold and often dry air causes our sweat to evaporate quickly which is why we don’t realize this fluid loss. All of these factors combined contribute to the overall understanding of how the winter time can affect our body hydration levels and cause us to be dehydrated without even realizing it.
The Effects of Dehydration & Why It Is Important to Drink Water

Dehydration is not good for the body at all. It is a well known fact that your body needs lots of water to function properly. Water is what protects your tissue, spinal cord, and joints. It helps to keep the tissues in your body moist as well as retain moisture in the sensitive parts of your body such as your mouth, nose, and eyes. Water is also a vital component for proper digestion. Digestion begins with breaking down food and liquid with saliva and saliva is based from water. It helps to dissolve minerals and nutrients which aids in proper digestion, and this in turn makes those minerals and nutrients more accessible for the body to use. In addition water aids in oxygen and breathing. Water helps to moisten oxygen for breathing and is mandatory for proper respiration within the body. It also is a necessity for maintaining the proper body temperature so that your body does not reach a severe state of heat or chills that can harm and potentially kill you. These and a myriad of other jobs and functions in your body are aided by the consumption of water, and failure to drink enough water can delay or halt these functions, resulting in serious consequences to your health. Of course above all, water makes you dehydrated and the state of dehydration is no walk in the park either. Dehydration produces a lot of symptoms within the body that can make day to day life miserable. Some symptoms of dehydration include headaches and migraines, feeling of nausea or actually vomiting, feelings of immense exhaustion no matter the amount of hours you are sleeping, dizziness, lack of tears, dry and rough skin, and dry mouth. In some cases dehydration to the severe level can cause serious issues to the brain and put you into a state of confusion or unconsciousness (fainting in other words). Dehydration can also mess around with your mood and make you very irritable. This is due to the fact that dehydration messes with your brain and makes mental performance and concentration reduced. Both of these being reduced in addition to feeling immense tiredness can altogether increase moodiness in people and make them feel slow or depressed. It’s not hard to see that such symptoms are feelings that nobody ever enjoys experiencing and it can be increasingly frustrated if it gets in the way of doing holiday activities and joining in on the family fun. Don’t let dehydration be the dreadful memory you have this winter and read on to see ways you can combat winter dehydration.
How You Can Stay Hydrated in the Winter
Hot Beverages

If you are feeling like ice cold or even room temperature water isn’t doing the trick on a cold, winter day, then switch it up. Try some hot green tea or hot water with lemon. These drinks both have plenty of water to keep you hydrated while also keeping you warm and cozy. You can even drink some hot chocolate and replace the milk with hot, boiling water instead to help you slowly reach your daily water intake. Coffee contains water as well and although not as much water as drinking well water, it still provides you with some supplementary hydration to reach your water intake for the day, and yes contrary to popular belief, coffee has not actually been proven to further dehydrate you! Although they are considered a mild diuretic (they make you urinate more), there has been nothing that proves the idea that they leave you in a state of increased dehydration.
Dress Up Your Holiday Meals with Fruits and Vegetables

One of the best things about holiday meals would have to not only be the yummy warmth and comfort it brings but the fact that holidays meals tend to be super eye catching in terms of color, making any plain dining table look absolutely delicious and eye-catching. Continue the pretty colors of your holiday meal with lots of colorful fruits and veggies. There are tons of fruits and veggies with a high water content that are absolutely perfect for keeping your body hydrated. Some fruits you can add to your delicious winter meals include strawberries, pineapple, grapefruit, watermelon (that one is a no brainer), peaches, and more! Some vegetables with a high water content include cucumber, celery, iceberg lettuce (hmmm a salad perhaps?), zucchini, radish, peppers, and more! Putting some fruits and veggies alongside your mouthwatering, holiday entrees is definitely not a bad idea for staying hydrated during the season. This method of staying hydrated is known as “Eating Your Water.”
Go For Some Soup!

Soup is another great way to get some water in your body, and its definitely not a bad thing to have during the winter. It’s actually very comforting to eat and perfect for the cold season. Try out some new soup recipes and incorporate some soups such as minestrone, tomato soup, or butternut squash into your winter diet. Pair those savory soups with a delicious salad filled with fresh veggies, high in water content and you have the perfect winter meal for staying hydrated. Once again you are “Eating Your Water.”
Drink a Glass Before Every Meal

Since winter suppresses the body’s knowledge that you are thirsty, it is very common that most people are dehydrated during the winter because they don’t feel thirsty and therefore they forget to drink. Making yourself drink a glass of water before every meal is a good way to get yourself to drink water when you forget between meals. This will aid in making you feel hydrated and keep you from feeling sick or nauseous.
Use a Humidifier

It’s very common for home and work places to get very dry in the winter. This is due to the fact that we spend a lot of time running our heaters to keep us warm. The running of heaters can make the air in your home or workplace very dry, and such dryness can cause dehydration. To combat this, while still using a heater to keep you warm, use a humidifier to ensure that the air around you has moisture to keep you both warm and hydrated. If you do not have a humidifier, you can make one by easily placing a bowl of water near a heat source. This will give off water vapor and moisture in the air that can help keep you hydrated.
If You Get Really Busy, Set Alarms!

Since your body is repressed partially from being able to send signals that you are thirsty when you are cold, it is up to you to know to hydrate yourself consistently throughout the day. If your days are very busy and your mind is often consumed by other things, it is a very wise idea to let your phone take that task up for you. Simply set alarms on your phone for whatever time you see fit for taking a break and drinking some water and then from there you let your phone do the rest. This is a great tip for staying hydrated during the winter because we live in a society where our phone is like our limb. It’s always there and with us no matter what and we feel lost and helpless without it (well most of us). Use having your phone near you as an advantage to keep yourself hydrated and you will have a much happier winter season and holidays!
Hopefully this article gave you a good run down on why you need to stay hydrated during the winter and steps you can do to prevent that horrid dehydration that no one deserves to feel. Utilize these tips as winter approaches and you will experience that your overall health and body will feel a whole lot better and ready to tackle on the busyness that winter can bring!

Sports and Hydration

We live in a society that is constantly moving on a day to day basis. From school, work, sports practice, to hanging with friends, we are becoming increasingly busier and busier. It seems that in school, there is always a strong emphasis being placed on being active and working with others and that is demonstrated through the many physical education requirements focused on students as well as the consistent encouragement to join a sports team. People love sports, especially America. Many american schools use sports as a way to boast about their diversity and popularity as well as a way to get students critically thinking, working with teammates, and strategizing in a way that gets both their brain thinking and their bodies moving. Sports in high school, college, and even professionally requires a lot more than just moving around a court or kicking a ball. It requires quick thinking and planning alternatives in the last minutes. Sports actually requires a lot of brain power when you think about it, and this brain power coupled with the high activity that people engage in, results in a lot and I meant a lot of energy being spent and lost at very high rates. That is why it is so very important to one’s health and performance that they are constantly staying hydrated at optimum levels so that they can put out their best effort and performance while keeping their body and health in check. This article breezes over the simple facts you need to know about sports playing and hydration, and is the perfect way to understand how you can keep yourself feeling your best while you are out their representing your team, your school, your city, your state, or even your country.
The Ugly of Sports and Low Hydration

It’s not secret that losing hydration within the body is a big no and is bound to result in some not so fun consequences, but here is a more detailed analysis of what exactly happens to you when your body is not receiving enough water. In a state of dehydration your blood actually becomes thicker. When your blood thickens, your heart rate begins to drop, causing low blood pressure. Your body, when dehydrated actually makes it harder on you to convert fat to fuel and instead your muscles began to burn the small amount of glycogen you carry in your body. Your brain is about 85% water, and even small changes to this percentage can cause serious effects on your mood. It also can simultaneously decrease concentration and alertness which everyone knows are vital traits you need to have when playing sports. It doesn’t look like a good win for you or your team if your concentration and alertness is at an all time low. It is essential to rehydrate the body consistently when you are sweating and becoming active. Failure to do so while also reaching about 3% dehydration can lead to serious ailments such as heat strokes or heat exhaustion. Signs of dehydration include increased fatigue, low motivation, and reduced endurance, all of which are extremely important qualities for superb sports performance. Dehydration harps greatly on your ability to do well, and no amount of practice is going to save you when you feel those signs coming on during a very big game. That is why it is of extreme importance to understand the signs of your body when it is dehydrated and from there make the proper decisions to rectify the decision, because doing so will be the difference between winning and losing.
How to Properly Hydrate Your Body

It is imperative to note that while water is very important in keeping our bodies rehydrated, when doing sports where you are expending energy at higher rates than normal and sweating a lot more, you must strike a balance in hydration through both water and drinks that carry electrolytes. Found a water that has electrolytes? You’ve hit the jackpot. Finding water that carries electrolytes such as perfect hydration water, etc. is so vital. If you find that over time, plain water isnt doing the trick anymore and you need more to jazz up your drink, try always going for dressing it up with fruit and vegetables or even go for some sports drinks that carry both electrolytes and flavor (just be wary when looking for such drinks as they often come with high amounts of sugar!). It is critical to note that when rehydrating your body understand that many people who feel satisfied with the amount of water they have sipped are actually 10-20% dehydrated. Don’t go with your gut feeling that you are satisfied. Often rehydrating your body means going past that “I feel fine” stage and drinking even when you don’t feel like you absolutely need it. Now while saying that don’t guzzle half a bottle after feeling full from water! Drinking more than 10 ounces of water at once, is not the best and can actually lead to hyponatremia. This is caused when you drink more water than what was lost or essentially overhydrate yourself. This can also happen when you replace fluid losses with only plain water that has 0 electrolytes whatsoever. It is best that even when you don’t feel the urge to drink water, aim to still sip about 7-10 ounces of water or a sports drink about every 10-20 minutes while you are engaging in a game or practice. As stated before, try to aim for water with electrolytes or sports drinks that carry electrolytes and low sugar preferrably. If you are feeling hungry during a game or practice, or before you engage in your sport activity, try going for fruit. Fruit can also give you the hydration you need to perform well and it also has electrolytes!
Drinks that You Can Use to Hydrate!

Here are some drinks that you can stock up on to keep you hydrated that are full of electrolytes and minerals and perfect for restoring energy and fluid loss.
Perfect Hydration Water. It is water that fuels you up and tastes exactly like water, but it packs in the necessities that plain water does not have for sports or exercise rehydration such as electrolytes.
Coconut Water. Coconut water hits all the bells when it comes to electorlytes. This tiny but mighty drink packs a good punch of electrolytes such as magnesium, calcium, phophorus, sodium, and potassium. Plus this drink also has a low calorie content.
Horizon Organic Chocolate Milk. I know that sounds weird to whip out chocolate milk during practice, but this is actually really good for you! It has lots of proteins and carbs for good performance as well as calcium and a high water content for restoring energy levels.
Now Without Further Ado Here Are Some Sports Drinks You Must Stay Away From!

Gatorade. Unfortunate considering this sports drink is highly advertised and very popular among sports players to nestle in their bag, but its not as good as you think. Although the drink does have a lot of electrolytes essential for energy, it packs a whole lot more uneccessary ingredients in it that doesn’t make it very healthy for you! You end up digesting a lot of extra sugars that your body really doesn’t need.
Powerade. This drink has a lot of pretty colors and flavors that make it so attractive for people to want to drink, but be warned, this drink has a lot of high fructose corn syrup making it extremely unhealthy for you. Couple that with the fact that the drink also carries brominated vegetable oil which is banned in both Japan and Europe, this drink is not the kindest to your body.
Propel. This drink is not your friend either! Although claiming to have rehydration properties, Propel carries a lot of chemicals that were created in a lab. It contains sucralose which is an artificial sugar that raises blood sugar levels, as well as calcium disodium which is known to block mineral absorption. In addition it also has sodium hexametaphosphae which is known to give headaches. Doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to drink!
General Tips on Hydration for Athletes

Look Out For Signs!

Watch out for signs that you are dehydrated when playing! This is a good way to know if your body needs more water and electrolytes, and it helps avoid heat stroke and exhaustion. If you start feeling tired, reduced motivation, and decreased performance during practice or a game that you should understand that you need to amp up how much you are drinking immediately to compensate for that loss in energy! If you start to notice any cramping in your legs and arms that cause difficulty with mobility or discomfort then that is a sign that your body’s energies are low and your muscles are producing lactic acid as a result.

Weigh Yourself!

Weighing yourself is a great way to also understand if your body is in a state of dehydration or not. Weigh yourself before practice or a game. If after you notice that your weight has decreased by about 1-3% then that means you are not getting enough water and important electrolytes in. For every pound lost, compensate by consuming around 20-24 oz. of water or sports beverage of your choice, within two hours of physical activity. In addition, checking the color of your urine can help with knowing whether dehydration has hit you or not. If the color of your urine seems to be a dark yellow then that is a sign you need more water in you. If your urine seems to be a light yellow then this is a sign that your body is maintaining proper hydration levels.

Exactly How Much Water Should You Consume?

It is recommended that before you start your practice or physical activity, you should have about 16-20 ounces of water within two hours prior to physical activity or any type of sports. During the period of physical activity when your body is constantly moving, it is ideal to drink about 8-10 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes of exercise to ensure that you are regaining the energy and electrolytes that you have lost. Post physical activity or exercise it is recommended to weigh yourself and then use the methods shared in the weigh yourself section, to ensure that you take your body to the amount of hydration it needs. Once these precautions are taken care of then there is a stronger chance and probability of a heightened and more alert sports performance over all, plus you won’t have to worry about dealing with horrible nausea, heat, or headaches that can occur, making physical activity sound very daunting.
Knowing When You’ve Had Too Much

Of course having too much of a good thing can still promote serious effects on the body. It’s important to know not only when you are dehydrated, but also when you have drunk too much water. As stated before, too much water can lead to water intoxication known as hypnatremia. This water intoxication causes sodium levels to drop which can prove to be extremely dangerous. It is unfortunately very hard to gauge whether you know you’ve had too much, but your body will normally produce signs that something is wrong. If you start feeling nauseous or sick or your urine has become almost clear looking that is a sign that you are beyond hydration levels and need to tone your water intake down a bit. Watching out and being aware of those signs can help you understand what your body needs to perform at its best.
Americans love their sports. It passes the time, keeps us active, helps us strategize and use our thinking skills while also promoting cooperation and teamwork. There are a lot of benefits that sports can bring and many Americans realize this, but its’ important that while you join the sports craze and make new friends, that you are being aware of your own body and health. A hydrated, healthier you equates to a well performed and happier you, and at least even when you lose, you can be happy knowing that you did the best that you could for your body and your performance.