Stay Hydrated in Winter: Protect Your Health in the Cold

stay hydrated with waterDehydration might be a pervasive concern in summer but the truth is, hydration in winter is crucial to protect your health. Consuming adequate liquids is necessary for human life to thrive especially in winter when the need to drink water is not evident. However, the consequences of dehydration in winter could become equally if not more fatal during the cold months compared to summertime.  Water has many important functions. It gives energy, helps eliminate waste products from the body, keeps the skin soft and supple, promotes good bowel movement and reduces risks of renal problems. Drinking water at mealtimes can also help you lose weight and get rid of unwanted body fat. Staying hydrated is key to maintaining a healthy body and good functioning of vital organs.

Drink Enough Liquids

Winter does not mean hibernating. On the contrary, you might even engage in active and extreme winter sports that call for extra attention to avoid hypothermia and thermoregulation. When the weather is cold, you are not going to have the same sense of thirst as in summer and therefore, are more prone to dehydration. If you are doing sports for more than an hour, it is not only necessary to drink more fluids but also replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates that have been lost during the activity. Popular drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade assist in maintaining the electrolyte sodium balance in the body. Carbohydrates in sports drinks also give energy and delay the onset of fatigue after a physical activity. These beverages also help you to stay alert especially when doing high risk winter sports. Fluid loss varies from one person to another depending on several factors such as intensity of physical activities, climate or health condition. Nonetheless, dehydration is a real possibility that can lead to cardiovascular and muscle blood flow problems.

Keep Body Heat In

While it is true that you will not sweat that much in winter as in summer, you will still experience fluid loss whether breathing, urinating or perspiring. The amount of fluid you lose need to be replenished and can be achieved when you drink enough water. In addition, there are two sides to think about when wearing protective layers of clothing. Wearing several layers of clothing keeps the heat in protecting your body from fluid evaporation. Dressing properly also protects the skin from drying and cracking as well as helps maintain normal body temperatures. It should be noted though that too many layers of protective clothing can cause sweating and make your body work harder. You will sweat a lot if you have too many clothes on. It is also important to factor in the type of fabric you are wearing. While cotton is light and comfortable, it has no wicking properties and absorbs moisture making you lose heat. Synthetic fibers, on the other hand, such as polyester or nylon provide good wicking making it an efficient base layer.

Pay Attention to the Skin

The cold wind, air and heating also suck out moisture off the skin making it appear dry, dull and lifeless. While it may be tempting to take a long bath to keep yourself warm and most of all, relax, this is not a good idea as it dries the skin. The epidermis is stripped off its protective oils that help trap moisture and hydrate the skin. Long showers are not also recommended as they have the same end effect as baths. After each shower or bath, it is not only advised to moisturize but also drink lots of fluids.

This is also true if you go to the sauna or to a Turkish bath to relax or detoxify. You perspire when you do any of these two activities although hamam is a softer type of heat. Temperatures in saunas range from 66°C to 90°C while keeping humidity under 25% to make it comfortable to users. In a Turkish bath, temperatures range from 25°C to 50 °C and humidity is at 100%. Even so, both wellness activities will make you perspire with fluids leaving your body in the form of sweat. It is very important, therefore, to drink lots of water in between saunas or Turkish baths.

Promote Good Diets

In addition to drinking enough fluids, you can include lots of soups to increase your liquid intake and meet your daily requirement. Each person’s needs vary but the recommended total water for women is 2.7 liters or 91 ounces while for men, 3.7 liters or 125 ounces per day (Dietary Reference Intakes, 2014). You can get it from several sources such as food dishes, beverages, fruits and vegetables. There are also free water apps you can use to remind you to drink fluids. These apps are great cues prompting you to drink more water at set times of the day. They also help you track your intake, provide analyses of your behavior and create reminders. Try using Waterlogged, iDrated or Daily Water to enhance your water consumption. They are available for free and can easily be downloaded to your devices such as tablets and phones.

Another trick to increase water intake is to get a bottle that you fill with water. By the end of the day, every drop of water that is inside the container should be consumed. Then you will know that you have met your daily water intake requirement to keep you hydrated. Granted there are some people who have enormous difficulties to drink water, there are ways around this problem. If you happen to be part of this group, you need to be creative. Add your favorite flavor such as lemon zest or mint to give water a certain appeal for you. No matter what type of fluids you consume, everything counts whether you drink several portions of soup, snack on fruits or veggies or just gulp down lots of water.

Taking care of your health is important no matter what the season is. It also includes proper hydration and fluid replenishment involving adequate amounts of liquids from different sources, healthy diets and lifestyle. All in all, hydration is key for a good functioning of your physical and mental faculties.

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