Hydration

After a winter hike in the woods, a couple enjoys a bottled water. Staying hydrated is imperative during the winter months.

Cooler and cold weather can increase the risk of dehydration, a condition linked to numerous health illnesses. And staying adequately hydrated during these months is not easy, as people tend to feel less thirsty and forget to rehydrate.

According to the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) people should stay on top of their hydration needs and be mindful of their loved ones’ drinking habits, particularly the elderly, for a variety of important health-related reasons.

Every organ in the body needs proper hydration to function optimally, and research done by the National Institute of Health shows that staying adequately hydrated could also help stave off serious illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, kidney disease progression, and cardiovascular diseases.

It’s long been established through research that cold weather alters the thirst sensation. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) studied individuals exercising and resting in cold chambers and found that they felt thirsty less often.

“When they don’t feel thirsty, they don’t drink as much, and this can cause dehydration, ” says Robert Kenefick, UNH associate professor of kinesiology.

People lose a great deal of water from their bodies in the winter due to respiratory fluid loss through breathing. The human body is also working harder under the weight of extra clothing, and sweat evaporates quickly in cold, dry air.

“Maintaining adequate hydration at this time of year is tricky because the warning signs of dehydration can be subtle or not at all apparent. This is why it’s important to maintain good, healthy hydration habits year-round by regularly consuming water – from the tap, filtered, or bottled – throughout the day and night,” says IBWA Vice President of Communications Jill Culora.

A 1 to 2% loss in body water can affect a person’s mood, energy level, and mental awareness, and yet they might not realize that dehydration is to blame. Drinking water can help you achieve a normal level of hydration and thus improve mood, energy, and cognition. Drinking adequate amounts of water also helps your skin, as cold temperatures leave it dry and parched.

Tips to stay hydrated:

  • Drink a glass of water as soon as you get up in the morning.
  • Make a habit of keeping a water bottle at arms reach.
  • Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to hydrate.
  • Drink a glass of water with each meal.
  • Add fruit or vegetable flavoring to plain water to make it more interesting.
  • Keep an eye on the color of your urine. It should be the palest yellow if you are adequately hydrated.
  • Choose water instead of high sugar drinks to cut back on unnecessary sugar.

Water intake

About 20% of our daily fluid intake comes from the food eaten. The liquids consumed provide the rest.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), how much water one needs to drink depends on weight, activity level, environment (the climate), and the type of clothing worn.

Recommendations vary, but the AHA follows guidance from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which has determined the adequate daily fluid intake for the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate is:

  • For women: About 11 cups (2.7 liters or about 91 ounces) total daily fluid intake (includes all beverages and water-containing foods).
  • For men: About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters or about 125 ounces) total daily fluid intake (includes all beverages and water-containing foods).

People should avoid waiting until they are thirsty to drink because they’re already dehydrated at that point.

“In the winter, people are less likely to feel thirsty, so it’s important to be mindful about regularly consuming water in order to stay well-hydrated throughout the day,” says Culora. “If you drink a lot of water during the summer, that’s a good habit you should maintain during the colder months of the year.”

“During the holiday season, bottled water is the perfect beverage choice for those who want to avoid or moderate calories, caffeine, sugar, artificial colors or flavors, alcohol, and other ingredients,” says Culora.

“Whether as a replacement for high-calorie beverages or as a nonalcoholic drink option, bottled water offers consumers a refreshing, hydrating, and convenient beverage that provides consistent safety, quality, and good taste. And with the variety of types available – from spring and purified, to mineral and sparking bottled water – consumers have many choices to suit their specific needs and preferences.”

“Like at any other point during the year, bottled water is an excellent choice for healthy hydration — helping consumers who want to stay hydrated or avoid calories, caffeine, sugar intake, artificial colors, or flavors and other ingredients,” says Culora. “Consumers continue to increasingly choose refreshing, healthy, hydrating, and convenient beverages such as bottled water that provide consistent safety, quality, and good taste.”

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Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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