Winter is coming (cue Jon Snow from GOT), and as we know, drinking an adequate amount of water each day is hard when it's chilly! However, staying hydrated during the colder months is just as important as during the hotter months, even though you may not feel as thirsty. So let's start by answering the most important question:
I'm not thirsty, so why do I need to stay hydrated?
Ensuring adequate hydration is crucial for many reasons. Here are a few examples of why maintaining hydration levels is imperative:
- Regulates body temperature: Water helps regulate body temperature by sweating and releasing heat, which keeps the body cool and prevents overheating.
- Promotes healthy digestion: Water is essential for the digestive system to work correctly. It helps break down food and move it through the digestive tract.
- Aids in nutrient absorption: Water helps transport nutrients throughout the body and assists in their absorption, making it easier for the body to utilise the vitamins and minerals in our food.
- Maintains healthy skin: Adequate hydration helps keep skin healthy, as water helps to plump up the cells in our skin cells.
- Increases energy and reduces fatigue: When the body is dehydrated, it can lead to fatigue and decreased energy levels. Drinking enough water helps maintain energy levels throughout the day.
- Prevents headaches and migraines: Dehydration can be a common trigger for headaches and migraines. Drinking water can help alleviate or prevent these types of headaches.
- Improves cognitive function: Adequate hydration is essential for optimal brain function. Water helps transport oxygen and glucose to the brain, which helps improve cognitive function and concentration.
As you can see, It's evident that staying hydrated goes beyond simply satisfying your thirst - it can positively impact various aspects of your health. Now, let's address the next crucial question:
How do I stay hydrated when it's cold?
I've listed 5 tips that you can use to keep yourself hydrated. Some are obvious, and some not so much.
Drink plenty of water
As stated above, this one's pretty obvious. However, what's not so obvious is the amount of water we need to consume each day.
We've been told that 8 glasses of water a day, equivalent to 2 litres (½ gallon), is all we need, but that might not be enough for some. This is because there are personal variables that change the amount of water you should consume, your weight, age and activity level being the three most important.
The best way to calculate how much water you should be drinking is to use this simple formula.
Multiply your current body weight in kilos by 30 millilitres and then again by 35 millilitres. This will give you (in millilitres) the range of water you should be consuming.
100kg x 30ml = 3,000 millilitres, which equals 3 litres. 100kg x 35ml = 3,500 millilitres, which equals 3.5 litres. (For all my American friends, you can use this handy converter here)
So for someone who weighs 100 kilos, their ideal range is around 3 - 3.5 litres per day; 3 being the minimum. Remember that if you sweat a lot, whether from exercise or your environment, you'll need to surpass the calculated 3.5L.
How can I drink more water?
Now that you've calculated your ideal water intake, here are some valuable tips you can use to help drink more water during the colder months:
- Keep a water bottle with you: If you have one, it will be easier to remember to drink water throughout the day. Choose an insulated water bottle to keep your water from getting too cold.
- Drink warm water: If you don't like cold water during winter, try drinking warm water instead. You can warm up water in a kettle or a microwave and add some lemon or other flavourings to make it more appealing.
- Use water tracking apps or reminders: Several apps can help you track your water intake and remind you to drink water throughout the day. Set up reminders on your phone or computer to prompt you to drink water at regular intervals.
- Get fancy and try sparkling mineral water: If you struggle with plain water, try adding sparkling mineral water to your daily routine.
Drink warm beverages
I'm not saying replace water with herbal teas; you still need to hit your minimum amount of water daily. However, if you need to increase your fluid intake, drinking warm beverages, such as sugar-free herbal tea and warm lemon water, can help you stay hydrated and provide other health benefits.
Here are some great herbal tea options:
- Green tea - Rich in antioxidants (compounds that protect the body against free radicals and other harmful substances.)
- Lemon & ginger - May help reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.
- Peppermint tea - May soothe digestive issues and help reduce stress and anxiety.
- Camomile tea - May promote relaxation and ease menstrual cramps.
- Turmeric Chai tea - May help with cardiovascular and brain health.
- Dandy Chai tea - May help with bloating and fluid retention.
Eat hydrating foods
Eating hydrating foods is another great way to increase your daily water intake and stay hydrated.
Here are some of the benefits of hydrating foods:
- High water content: Many fruits and vegetables are mostly water, which can help keep you hydrated. For example, cucumbers are 95% water, and lettuce is 96% water.
- Rich in nutrients: Fruits and vegetables are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can help support overall health and well-being.
- Healthier option: Hydrating fruits and vegetables are often lower in sugar than other fruit and can be a healthy addition to any diet.
Here are some examples of hydrating fruits and vegetables:
- Citrus fruits: Oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are high in water content and rich in vitamin C.
- Berries: Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are hydrating and rich in antioxidants.
- Cucumber: As mentioned before, cucumbers are an excellent hydrating food as they're mostly made up of water.
- Celery: Celery is another vegetable with a high water content that is also rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Lettuce: Leafy greens like lettuce are hydrating and provide fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
Incorporating these hydrating foods into your diet can be a great way to boost your hydration levels and promote overall health and wellness. It's important to note that while hydrating foods can be beneficial, they should not be used as a replacement for drinking water. Drinking water is still the most effective way to stay hydrated.
Use a humidifier
During the winter, the air tends to be drier, which can cause dehydration and other health issues. Using a humidifier will add moisture to the air. It can help alleviate some of the adverse effects and promote hydration. Here are some other benefits of using a humidifier:
- Reduces the spread of germs: Dry air can also increase the spread of viruses and bacteria. When the air is dry, it can cause the nose and throat to dry out, making it easier for germs to enter the body. Using a humidifier can help keep the mucous membranes moist and reduce the spread of germs.
- Helps with respiratory issues: If you suffer from respiratory problems such as asthma or allergies, using a humidifier can help alleviate symptoms. The added moisture in the air can help soothe dry, irritated airways and make breathing easier.
- Improves sleep: Dry air can cause dry skin and throat, making sleeping difficult. Using a humidifier can add moisture to the air, which can help improve the quality of your sleep.
When using a humidifier, keeping it clean and maintaining proper humidity levels is essential. Too much moisture in the air can promote the growth of mould and bacteria, which can be harmful to your health. Clean your humidifier regularly to prevent mould and bacteria growth.
Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption
Alcohol and caffeine are two common beverages that can contribute to dehydration, leading to various health issues. Here are some reasons why excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine can cause dehydration:
- Diuretic effect: Both alcohol and caffeine act as diuretics, increasing urine output and contributing to dehydration. Consuming these beverages can cause your body to lose more water through urine, leading to dehydration.
- Inhibits anti-diuretic hormone (ADH): Alcohol and caffeine can also inhibit the production of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which regulates urine production. When ADH is inhibited, more water is lost through urine, contributing to dehydration.
- Increases metabolic rate: Caffeine can increase metabolic rate, leading to increased water loss through sweat. This can also contribute to dehydration.
To avoid dehydration, it's essential to limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine. Here are some tips:
- Balance with water: If you do consume alcohol or caffeine, try to balance it out with water or other hydrating options. For example, drink a glass of water for every cup of coffee.
- Limit intake: Limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine. The recommended daily limit for caffeine is 400mg, which is about 4 cups of coffee. The recommended daily limit for alcohol is 1 standard drink per day for women and up to 2 standard drinks per day for men. And if you are going to drink, choose one that's also beneficial.
- Choose hydrating options: Instead of reaching for alcohol or caffeinated beverages, choose hydrating options such as water or herbal teas.
Remember, staying hydrated is essential for overall health and well-being, regardless of the weather. Don't let the colder months be an excuse to neglect your water intake. Make a conscious effort to drink more water, consume more hydrating foods and top up your water intake with herbal teas, and you will reap the benefits of improved energy levels, clearer skin, and better overall health.
Sources & Credits
- Glass of water: Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/clean-clear-cold-drink-416528/
- Watermelon: Photo by Any Lane: https://www.pexels.com/photo/pieces-of-fresh-juicy-watermelon-5946081/
- No alcohol: Photo by Roberto Vivancos: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-red-text-signage-4796587/