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Nutrition: Hydration in Colder Weather

Hydration in Colder Weather

We’ve all heard the common expression to drink eight glasses of water per day. While the actual amount varies person to person depending on their age, sex, physical activity, and medical history, staying well hydrated is an important component of health that is often overlooked.

It’s important to stay hydrated year-round, however, in the colder months this may be more of a challenge. We may not be feeling the sensation of thirst or sweating as much as in warmer weather, so we often consume less fluid even though our bodies are still working hard every day to keep us well and warm.

Why do we need water every day?

Almost 60% of our body is made up of water. It plays a vital role in maintaining body temperature, helping digest food, and allowing us to move our bodies, among many other functions. Without water, many of the internal chemical and physiological reactions that occur every day to keep us well would be impaired.

We regularly lose water in three main ways: through urine, sweating, and breathing. You may have noticed feeling particularly thirsty after a workout or in warm environments. This is because our bodies produce sweat as a way to cool ourselves off, so it’s important to replenish fluid lost. Our body is smart — it has different ways of sending us a hint that we may be dehydrated and need water. Common symptoms include dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, or muscle cramps. Many people rely on the thirst sensation to cue them to drink water.

How can we measure our hydration status?

An easy visual way to tell if you are well hydrated is to check the color of your urine – aim for pale yellow (like lemonade) rather than dark yellow (like apple juice)!

Tips for increasing improving our hydration in colder weather:

Here are some suggestions for incorporating more fluids into your day, including some warm beverage ideas to help you stay cozy and hydrated during colder weather!

  • If you don’t like plain water, consider adding fruit or herbs like basil or mint to give it some flavor! Check out these other warm beverage ideas to change it up:
    • Tea or coffee
    • Hot chocolate
    • Bone broth
    • Chai tea latte
    • Warm water with lemon and ginger
    • Ginger turmeric golden milk (mix 1 cup of warm milk of choice with 1 tsp each of cinnamon, ground ginger, and turmeric)
  • Keep a water bottle with you at all times for an easy visual reminder.
  • Set an alarm on your phone or watch to alert you every 15-30 minutes to take some sips.
  • Soups, smoothies, and water-rich fruits and vegetables (like watermelon, cucumber, apples, tomatoes, strawberries to name a few) are also good ways to sneak in more water.

By Inna Kagan, Registered Dietitian