How can I avoid dehydration during the winter?

Ms. Ashley Koff, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
In the media, hydration is often a summer story. It's hot, we're sweating more, remember to hydrate. However, I think there's a much bigger story: dehydration -- how the winter presents increased risks for it resulting in increased risk for immune challenges.

It gets cold, and what are the first things we do? Turn on our heaters, have a hot beverage versus an iced one, switch from salad to soup for a healthy but warming lunch, the vegetables of the season are the roots and the cruciferous and we roast, bake, and sauté them. Unlike the water-based fruits and vegetables of the summer, the winter ones contain little water (some do provide potassium though) and often we cook them further drying them out or replacing water with oil. Soups typically contain a higher amount of sodium than salads that tend to provide more water. Hot drinks we favor such as lattes, hot cocoa, and cider lack the water that iced tea and coffee provide. And so on.

Our cells require water (and potassium to keep the water in the cells, versus sodium which draws it outside the cell) for optimal absorption of water-soluble nutrients as well as for their numerous energy creating and disseminating equations. Thus, if a system nets dehydration the body will function less optimally from an energy standpoint. Similarly, if the body is dry and skin cracks there is an opportunity for bacteria to enter thus dryness increases the risk of infections which can enable a cold to enter more often.

So add hydration to your daily mental checklist -- a hot water with lemon, an herbal tea versus a latte or after the latte, consume some coconut water, banana, tomato sauce, or dried fruit as a way to consume potassium. Choose lowest sodium soups, skip the soy sauce with sushi, choose lowest sodium meats and prepare food versus buying ready-to-eat as often as possible as you can best control your sodium intake that way. Lock-in moisture with applying oil (I use coconut oil) to your body and face while wet just after a shower or bath. Keep the heater as low as endurable and snuggle under the covers (it's better for the environment too).
Beth Oliver

Drink at least 8 glasses of water per day and include fruit like melons and oranges in your diet. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Bring eye drops and moistener with you if you travel by air because there is less humidity on an airplane.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.