Usually when we hear the word hydration it is associated with drinking adequate amounts of water during the summer months when heat and humidity are at an all time high. But staying hydrated should be a priority year-round. Although it may not be as obvious to notice, dehydration can still occur in cold weather.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is the shortage of water in the body that can result from inadequate intake of fluids or excessive loss of fluids. There are several factors that can affect the amount of water needed each day, but on average most adults should drink half their body weight in ounces. If an individual is more active, the amount of water should increase. It may seem strange, but it is possible to become dehydrated when it is cold outside similar to when it is warm outside. In the summer it may be easier to identify cues that the body needs to be hydrated. In the winter, it may be harder to notice.
- 40% of people feel less thirsty in the winter months even though the body’s water needs remain unchanged. It is thought that by the time an individual experiences thirst, the body is already dehydrated.
- People sweat less in cold weather.
- Although it is less obvious, the body loses moisture throughout the day through respiration, urination, perspiration, which are all normal bodily functions independent of the temperature outside. However, temperature can change the rate at which the body loses fluids.
- Activity level, diet and your overall health can also play an intricate role in the amount of water your body loses and retains.
Benefits of staying hydrated
There are several benefits to drinking water, which you may remember is essential to life. It accounts for 60 percent of our body weight and is (obviously) an extremely important and valuable resource for the body. Water is instrumental in serving major bodily functions throughout our day-to-day lives. Examples include, transporting nutrients and waste products to and from our major organs, regulating body temperature, lubricating joints and most notably, acting as a shock absorber during pregnancy. Drinking water also helps to support skin health and moisture as well as support physical performance.
5 Tips to help you stay hydrated in the winter
- Be intentional about drinking water. Set an alarm or make a check list to ensure you are drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day. Try to drink eight – 8 ounce glasses of water a day.
- Eat water-rich foods to help increase hydration. Fruits, vegetables, milk, and low sodium broths are great options to help support hydration needs.
- Low calorie, low sugar drinks, decaffeinated teas and ciders are creative ways to increase fluid intake.
- Do not rely on your body’s normal cues (perspiration, thirst and urination) to alert you to drink more water.
- Before indulging in a snack, try drinking a glass of water. Many times individuals mistake hunger for thirst.
What tips will you incorporate to ensure that you are staying hydrated during the winter months?
Lauren Horton, PhD.
Dr. Lauren Horton is a senior manager in Research and Development at AdvoCare. She has used her expertise to successfully develop protocols, clinical designs and test strategies to help AdvoCare achieve research and product development goals.
Before joining AdvoCare International, she was a clinical researcher at a leading clinical research organization. Dr. Horton loves to help improve the quality of life of those around her. She has helped men and women from all over the country discover how small steps each day can lead to huge strides towards living a healthier lifestyle.
Dr. Horton holds a BS in biology from Rust College and a PhD in biomedical science from Morehouse School of Medicine and completed her post-doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania.