Have you noticed that the colder it gets outside, the harder it becomes to drink water? The appeal of a hot cup of tea or coffee is just too strong. However, just because it is winter doesn’t mean you’re safe from dehydration. Staying hydrated is crucial if you’re trying to start or maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What makes drinking enough water during the colder months so difficult is the fact that your body’s thirst response is reduced by up to 40% in winter. This is by your body trying to conserve heat by constricting blood vessels and drawing blood to its core.
Winter dehydration can cause all sorts of unwanted symptoms including dry skin, chapped lips, headaches and dry coughs. During winter you lose a lot more fluid due to the water vapour being lost through your mouth – that steamy cloud you see every time when you exhale in cold air, that’s H2O.
One way of combining H2O and enjoying a warm, soothing beverage is by drinking herbal teas. Delicious varieties such as lemon, ginger, fennel, peppermint or dandelion tea will ensure that you’re adequately hydrated. Adding to its benefits, herbal tea has a range of health benefits including relief from constipation, bloating and IBS, easing nausea and headaches as well as cleansing your blood, liver and kidneys. You can buy these at any health or whole foods store. Most office water coolers have a hot water option, so making a cup of herbal tea is just as convenient as pouring a glass of ice cold water.
If you’re not a fan of herbal teas, you can also try drinking a cup of warm water with a slice of lemon, sweetened with half a teaspoon of honey. This is a great way to not only quench your thirst, but also boost your immune system and soothe a sore throat.
If you are experiencing a dry mouth, muscle cramps, fatigue or even a headache, you may be suffering from dehydration. When experiencing symptoms like these you may think that you are coming down with something, but it could just be signs of your body crying out for water.
Our bodies are able to survive for five weeks without food, but can’t function for longer than 5 days without water. Dehydration can occur at any time and does not only happen when your body is experiencing stress from ‘hitting the wall’ during running or being stranded in an isolated location for weeks.
There are two types of dehydration that can occur namely acute and chronic. Acute dehydration can be experienced in a short period of time and is due to quick depletion of fluids from the body and overexertion. Chronic dehydration on the other hand occurs when water in your body is not replaced day after day.
When you do not replenish water lost over time, your body redistributes and regulates the available water that you still have – so it basically rations water and only uses it when it’s most needed. At this point, your cells are not getting enough water to operate optimally which results in symptoms that can be mistaken for illness.
How to check if you are dehydrated
If you are not 100% certain that you are dehydrated, here are two ways that can help you identify the tell-tale signs:
This common test involves pinching a roll of skin on the back part of your hand. Simply, pull the skin that is situated between your wrist and your fingers up about half a centimetre high and let go. Your skin should just spring back to its prior position, however, if it bounces back slowly you could be suffering from dehydration.
To check if you are well hydrated your urine will be mostly transparent with a tiny tinge of yellow. There are three colours that you should watch out for that show that you are starting to or are already dehydrated – yellow, chardonnay or orange.
Whether it is from the water cooler, a drinking fountain or even just straight out of the tap remember to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to avoid getting dehydrated.