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!

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