Staying Hydrated Whatever the Weather
Winter is here and for many,it can’t go away quick enough. Long, dark nights and cold days mean we don’t have to drink as much water as we need to in the summer, right?
Keeping yourself adequately hydrated in the winter months is just as important as it is during the summer.
Admittedly, a tall glass of refreshing water topped up with ice and a slice is not as appealing as it is when the sun is shining. But, just because the weather outside may be less than desirable, the processes and functions going on within your body remain unchanged, regardless of the time of year.
A common misconception is that it is not as easy to become dehydrated during the cold, winter months as it is in the long, hot summer months. But this is simply not the case. During the summer you may see or feel your body losing water particularly when you sweat. In the winter, however, loss of water may not be so obvious even when participating in vigorousexercise. Of course,during any physical exercise,you should always ensure adequate water intake, but a lack of sweat can make you think you’re not losing as much water when it’s cold.
Yet, during the colder months,our bodies will conserve warmth by constricting the blood vessels in our fingers and toes, a process which increasesblood flow to our kidneys. The process means we have the urge to pee more and as a result expel water from our body. Plus, when it’s cold we also lose water through respiration, hence why we can see our warm breath on chilly days.
The importance of hydration is vast. Several health benefits associated with drinking water in the winter months include:
During the winter it is a lot more tempting to become more sedentary. For example, we may be more inclined to take the car to work instead of walking/cycling, the nights draw in earlier which may put us off continuing our usual exercise routine and we are more likely to eat stodgy, comforting and hot foods. All these factors can lead to a gain in weight. Water can play a key role in ensuring extra kilos are kept off our waistlines because it enables the body to break down fat into energy more efficiently. Hydration also helps us to suppress our appetite – on many occasions where we feel hungry, we are in fact thirsty.
Poor hydration can impact on the health of your skin. During the winter, the prevalence of dry skin is increased upon exposure to cold air, but water can aid skin health. Ensuring you have an adequate supply of water as part of your normal diet could positively impact your normal skin physiology.
Dehydration can limit our cognitive performance – think of water as our fuel, much like that of a car, without it we are unable to function properly. So, without proper hydration aspects of our cognition such as alertness, concentration and short-term memory can all be affected.
Proper hydration means your organs and body systems can work efficiently too. Constipation can be prevented by drinking an adequate amount of water and our kidneys are able to carry out their filtration tasks effectively as well.
Headaches can be causedby water deprivation which has also been shown to be a trigger for a migraineand prolong the duration of a migraine too. Combatting a water deprivation induced headache can be relieved through the ingestion of water, with symptoms usually relieved within 3 hours.
Staying hydrated is essential for optimal winter wellness. If you can’t stand the thought of drinking cold water during winter, you could try these simple tips:
- Drink your water hot
- Add wedges of lemon, orange or cucumber to make the flavour more appealing
- Soup is a good wayto keep yourwater intake up
- When it’s cold we tend to feel our thirst is quenched after a smaller amount of water, so keep a bottle nearby and take regular sips.
Keneflick, R, W., Hazzard, M, P, Mahood, N, V and Castellani, J, W. (2004). Thirst Sensations and AVP Responses at Rest and During Exercise-Cold Exposure. Med Sci Sports Exerc: 36(9), pp 1528-1534.
Palma, L., Tavares Marques, L., Bujan, J and Monteiro Rodrigues, L. (2015). Dietary Water Affects Human Skin Hydration and Biomechanics. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol: 8, pp 413-421.
Popkin, B, M., D’Anci, K, E and Rosenberg, I, H. (2010). Water, Hydration and Health. Nutr Rev: 68(8), pp 439-458.