Drink More Water When It’s Cold Out, to Boost Immunity and Fight Infection
We always think about hydration in the summer, but actually, for our health, it's even more important to drink enough water during the winter season. Shockingly, 75% of people are dehydrated during the cold weather months and most of us don't know it, experts say. The colder weather and more arid air and indoor heat all combine to create a condition in which people are chronically dehydrated, which compromises their ability to fight infection, according to the latest research.
In winter you are more likely to forget to drink because, in the absence of heat and perspiration, you have no idea that you are in a constant state of mild dehydration. The fall and winter are the most important seasons to hydrate, according to experts, to support your immune system and give your body the ability to fight off infections, and flush out toxins via urination.
Drinking enough water should be a high priority on your daily to-do list, according to Jessica Bippen, a St. Louis based Registered Dietician and Essentia Water partner. Being dehydrated, especially in the wintertime, can lead you to have low energy, mood fluctuations, and feel run down. Water does so much more than just quench your thirst, Bippen adds since it is essential to every major function in the body, including your immune system.
"Water not only boosts energy and mood, but supports the immune system, flushes out toxins and waste, supports digestion, aids cognition, and supports metabolism," Bippen explains. "Water also carries nutrients to all the cells in the body and oxygen to the brain, and helps absorb minerals, vitamins, amino acids, glucose, and other substances." In essence, our bodies are 60 percent water so if you don't have enough, every single system is operating at sub-par levels.
Staying well-hydrated helps our bodies fight off infections.
"Hydration is a key element to maintaining a healthy immune system," Bippen says. "Our immune system is highly dependent on the nutrients in our bloodstream and adequate hydration allows for these nutrients to flow throughout the body."
Your immune system is a complex interplay between nutrients, energy and how your body disposes of waste, including flushing it out of your system via urine, so staying hydrated acts like a waterfall or faucet, so every time you wash your hands you should also drink a glass of water, helping your cells wash away any toxins or foreign agents such as viral invaders, which get recognized by your T-cells and swept out by your kidneys, which act as a filter in the body, and drinking water helps this process happen efficiently.
Summertime is not the season when people are the most dehydrated since they are drinking more often in the heat. Whether sweating post-workout or from sitting outside in the blazing heat, we're constantly reminding ourselves to stay hydrated and replenish fluids lost from sweating so much during the summer months. Yet, even if you do the same workout in the wintertime, such as running outside, you are likely wearing layers of clothing but even if you do sweat but the cold weather makes it less evident that you are still thirsty, so you fail t drink during and after your workout, causing dehydration. A study found our body's thirst response in colder weather was weakened by up to 40 percent both at rest and during mild- to moderate-intensity exercise.
Colder weather also means cranking up the indoor heat causing dry air to circulate. Now that many of us work from home, we're constantly in a heated environment and according to a study, this dry heat can cause people to need to enhance their fluid intake.
Meanwhile, thirst can present itself in different ways such as headache, lack of energy, moodiness, and a taste for salt, according to one comprehensive dehydration study, that explains the cells shrink when they are dehydrated and send hormonal signals to the brain that you're thirsty but the brain may present that message to you in different ways.
Drink a gallon of water daily to avoid winter dehydration.
Everyone has a different amount of water they should be drinking, depending on their weight says Bippen. "There are guidelines, for example about ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day. But the truth is that we are all unique. Different factors play a role in how much water your body needs on a daily basis. You know you’re drinking enough water if your pee is light yellow or clear," says Bippen.
To figure out exactly how much water you should be drinking, multiply your weight in pounds by 2/3 (or .67) and that is the number of ounces of water to drink in a day, according to the latest research. That means if you weigh 150 pounds you need to strive for 100 ounces of water a day.
How do you know if you're dehydrated?
If you don't have enough water, you'll experience dry mouth and chapped lips, general fatigue, you may even have some dizziness and your urine will be darker than usual, so check to see if you are voiding dark yellow, strong-smelling pee, according to Bippen. A quick assessment at the end of the day will also be telling: If you urinated fewer than four times, you aren't drinking enough water, she adds.
Some rare cases of overhydration have led to problems with salts and electrolytes, such as when you run long distances and drink water but fail to replace your salts which you lose when you sweat. this is more of a problem for endurance athletes than the everyday jogger, she explains. "Getting too much water is very hard to do, but in rare cases, it happens with athletes, but even then doesn’t happen that often," she adds. Exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH), is a condition that athletes encounter when they are training or exerting for at least an hour. Too much water and not enough electrolytes can cause confusion, nausea, and lightheadedness, says Bippen.
Bippen works with Essentia Water which is alkaline water that has a pH of 9.5, which is higher than the average tap water, and athletes often drink alkaline water because they believe it hydrates them quicker than ordinary tap.
Try these 4 simple tricks to hydrate, boost immunity and fight infection
1. Start your day with a tall glass of water instead of coffee.
Coffee is full of antioxidants, which is great for you (and new research shows it can even reduce your risk of cancer). But for your best hydration status, start the day with a 10-ounce glass of water, either hot or room temperature, since it will start your digestive system and help your body begin to detox from the start. You have not had anything to drink during the hours you've been sleeping so you may not realize it but you begin the day dehydrated. Also, caffeine is a diuretic, which means it promotes urination so drinking water before you sip that cup of joe is a way of off-setting the caffeine's effect on your body.
2. Infuse water with fruit like lemons or oranges for flavor and added benefits
Don't love water? Infusing your pitcher elevates a boring glass of H2O so you don't have to feel like you're force-chugging, and instead, you can enjoy a refreshing beverage that you will want to sip all day. The best part is that by adding fruit such as lemon you get an extra boost of vitamin c which has 1/3 of the RDA for the day. Cut up the fruit, add to a pitcher of water and let it sit overnight to allow enough time to let it infuse.
3. Buy a gallon jug to use as a pitcher to guide your water intake all day long
The easiest way to reach that gallon of water a day is to buy an actual gallon pitcher or large bottle. To stay on track throughout the day, buy a water jug that has time increments from 7 am to 7 pm. (Here's my favorite) Don't want to lug it around all day? Pour ten ounces into a separate glass or glass or metal water bottle and keep it handy This will help you drink more water steadily and pace out your water intake throughout the day.
4. On colder days, drink room temperature or warm water
The temperature drops and it can be hard to convince yourself to drink anything that isn't hot. Try drinking warm water with lemon or room temperature water instead. Ice water will bring your body temperature down, which you won't like if you already run cold, whereas drinking room temperature or warm water will keep your body temperature level or warm