Drinking Water in Winter – How Much is Enough?
It’s hard to ignore the fact that winter is well on its way. While this time of year brings with it all things Festive, it also brings a surprising side effect that can wreak havoc with your health – dehydration. Yes, you read correctly. When the temperatures drop and the cold winds begin to blow, the air becomes drier and our bodies get less moisture than they do in warmer months.
A major reason for this lessened level of moisture in our bodies is that we stop drinking as much water. In summer, it’s easy to slug back eight or more glasses in a day especially when we try to drink today for tomorrow. Our bodies’ thirst is a very real side effect of the heat and few of us can go a couple of hours without quenching that thirst with an ice-cold glass of water. And while you can invest in warmer herbal teas rather than icy water when it comes to wintertime, it’s still important – if not more so – to maintain your water intake. Read on to find out why, and just how much water is enough.
But I’m not sweating?
While winter may not offer the hot, sunny days that send us flocking to the pools and beaches, it does bring its own heat in the form of furnaces, fires and heaters. We may not sweat as much as we would in summer, but we still lose water vapor through our breath in the form of the steam that flows from our mouths when it’s cold. Our bodies are mostly water – about 70% overall – and no matter the time of year, require good hydration. While thirst is a good indication of dehydration, it is actually a late indicator that means your body’s functions have already been compromised. Other more explicit symptoms include the annual wintery wonders of chapped lips, flaky skin, a dry cough, nosebleeds, mild headaches and acne. And if you’re someone who laments the arrival of winter because of these symptoms, then you’re also someone who needs to increase your water intake.
In winter, the effects of dehydration can be particularly bad. Not only do we become more susceptible to the event of a stroke, but we also run a higher risk of catching a cold or the flu. Not drinking enough water also makes it a lot more difficult to keep the winter weight away. When we’re well hydrated, our appetites are better controlled. However, when we aren’t drinking enough fluids, our body doesn’t have the energy it requires to break down fat for energy, and we often mistake thirst for hunger, leading us to eat more than we would normally. Couple that with the festive feasts that punctuate the days and we’re well on our way to piling on the pounds.
Benefits of drinking water
Our bodies use water for most, if not all, of its basic functions including breathing, sweating and urination. We require water to regulate our body temperatures, for chemical reactions, flushing toxins, nutrition absorption, lubrication of our joints, eyes, mucus membranes and spinal cord, and for a functioning and healthy metabolism. If our body’s water volume drops by just 2%, then the result can be disastrous. Dizziness, muscle cramps, fatigue and problems focusing, all directly result to lower water levels, indicating just how damaging a small lack in water can be.
How much water is enough in winter?
As with all things health related, water intake can vary according to the gender and activity levels of the person. However, there are general rules by which you can abide:
- Men should consume between eight and 10 glasses of water a day
- Women should consume between six and eight glasses of water a day
- If men exercise, then the number rises to between 10 and 14 glasses a day
- If women exercise, then the number rises to between eight and 12 glasses a day
- Women who’re lactating/breast feeding should consume between seven and 10 glass a day
When it comes to water intake, it’s far better to base your consumption on these general rules than by how thirsty you may feel. As with all things when it comes to health, prevention of dehydration and its negative side effects is better than a cure.
So, how can we ensure we drink enough water in winter?
There are several steps that you can take to improve your water intake in colder months, without the need for an icy glass of cold water that’ll leave you shivering.
- Snack on water-based foods – fruits and vegetables are a natural source of water, which can also provide us with an invaluable source of vitamins and minerals. Soup as a meal can also ensure we’re able to keep our fluid levels up in a healthy and warm way.
- Add healthy flavours to water – sipping on something delicious can make the daily ritual of drinking water a little bit easier. Infuse your water with fruits and herbs using recipes sourced from the internet.
- Drink throughout exercise – make sure you drink water before, during and after your workout. And remember not to use thirst as a signifier, because by the time we feel thirsty we’re often already well on our way to severe dehydration.
- Match caffeine and alcohol intake with water – and switch to decaffeinated teas and coffees too. Each cup of coffee may be a form of fluid intake, but the higher the level of caffeine or sugar, the less positive a contribution it’s make to the water level in your body.
- Have soup – clear soups are a tasty way to take in water. And having a bowl before each meal will not only fill you up faster, but increase your body’s water content.
- Invest in a humidifier – since humidifiers release water into the air, it is a worthwhile trick for lessening the negative effects of the dry air at night. Especially helpful for keeping children healthy.
While it may not be as inviting to sip on a glass of water in the winter, it’s just as – if not more – necessary than in summer. And understanding just how vital water is for our bodies, allows us to take the steps towards increasing our water intake and supporting our bodily functions so that we feel good, no matter what month it is.
Idea submitted by :
Robyn Porteous, a lover of healthy things and the staff writer for the Water Cooler Company, London’s leading supplier of bottle water coolers.