Water is one of our basic primal needs for survival, alongside food and shelter. In fact, 60% of the adult body consists of just water!
Without water we simply do not have enough energy to power through the basic daily needs for bodily functions. While each individual may vary slightly in the specific amount of water they require, all human beings must constantly hydrate in order to be healthy.
Water is a basic prerequisite for producing saliva and thus proper digestion, internal body regulation, flushing out and detoxifying the body, proper brain and liver function, and much, much more. According to the American Heart Association, “Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps the muscles work efficiently.”
Dehydration can lead to serious consequences that may result in many health issues. Without enough water one may encounter loss of energy or coordination. If you wait until you’re thirsty, then you’re already dehydrated.
Even in the depths of winter when you’re not sweating as much it’s just as important to remain hydrated for several reasons. We often think of the warmer summer months when temperatures may cause us to perspire more and we’re hot in general as a key time to constantly drink water, but we are still losing water vapor through our breath in the winter months. To battle the dryness of winter, hydration is key.
With the winter months come increased threats of colds and the flu. Dehydration can make us more susceptible to these illnesses as the immune system will weaken and our cells, tissues, and organs do not function at their fullest capacity without enough water.
It’s easy to slip into hibernation mode in the winter months with the cold and darker days. Almost as instinct, we kick into survival mode and tend to eat more just to stay warm and comforted. However, often our activity levels are lower overall during this period of time, so it can lead to unintentional weight gain. Drinking enough water will ensure proper hydration which boosts metabolism overall, as well as curbing appetite.
Often times, when we think we feel hungry, we may in fact be thirsty. The same part of your brain is responsible for interpreting hunger and thirst signals, which can result in mixed signals, according to registered dietitian Sioned Quirke. Especially in the winter, try drinking a glass of water and waiting a short period of time before evaluating if you’re actually hungry or not. This will help maintain your weight by avoiding the consumption of excess calories.
Aside from keeping your water bottle at your side all day, here are some tips to stay happy and hydrated throughout the winter:
- Start your day with a glass of water. Before you go for that warm cup of coffee or tea, drink an 8 oz. glass of water. This will give your metabolism a kick-start as well as set the foundation for hydration throughout the day.
- Set a timer on your phone to go off hourly. This will be your cue to drink water. It’s easy to forget to do this, even with water nearby. Help yourself establish the mental habit of drinking water all day long and become acclimated to the comfort of hydration - you’ll never want to be dehydrated again!
- Eat more fruit! Fruit often has a high water content, so be sure to incorporate these delightful little snacks into your daily diet.
- Choose to consume vegetables that are also high in water content. Broccoli, celery, baby carrots, and spinach are all great examples and are in season in the winter months.
- Purchase a humidifier for your home. With the winter months and increased exposure to indoor air, the air can become very dry and brittle. A humidifier will resolve this and keep good air circulation around the house.
- Keep a healthy reserve of drinking water available. For some, tap water will suffice. If you are more picky about the water you want to drink, make sure to keep filtered, chilled water nearby. Having a water cooler may seem excessive but the bottle buddy storage system can help limit space.
- Have plenty of indoor plants. Not only does this touch of greenery bring a nice ambiance to your abode, but they also give off oxygen and improve air quality for your home.
- Avoid sodium. If you eat something salty, such as bacon or soy sauce, or drink coffee or alcohol, balance out your hydration level for the day by incorporating an extra glass of water to your count.
Shoot for drinking at least eight 8-oz. glasses of water a day (8x8 is an easy to remember mantra), and enjoy good, prosperous health all winter long!