While we tend to associate dehydration with sweating through the summer heat, there are a number of factors that make staying hydrated in winter just as important as swigging away on summer’s most sweltering days. Today, then, we’re breaking down all you need to know about the biological responses and big-time benefits behind staying hydrated in the winter months. Reach for something refreshing, and read on!
1. Cold weather decreases your thirst sensation.
One of the top reasons staying hydrated in winter is important? You’re more likely to become dehydrated. You don’t feel the need to cool down with an ice-cold drink the way you do in sweltering summer months—so you reach for water or an electrolyte drink far less often. This isn’t just because water is less enticing in winter (which it is) or we feel less hot (which we do)—but, according to The University of New Hampshire, it’s because “…cold actually alters thirst sensation” as it relates to the way our brains excrete AVP (a hormone that regulates fluids) and how our hypothalamus signals our cortex to create a thirst drive.
In other words, you have two factors working against your ability to stay hydrated in winter months: you crave less water both naturally (it’s cold; you’re sweating less; it’s not appealing) and biologically (cold weather affects the signals our body sends that tell us to drink).
2. Staying hydrated in winter boosts your immune system.
Water helps carry oxygen to your cells, which is a key component of proper organ functioning—and when your organs are functioning their best, so is your immune system. Staying hydrated also helps your kidneys eliminate toxins and encourages your cells to get rid of harmful waste, helping flush unwelcome visitors and cold-causing bacteria from your body (a toxin build-up in your body weakens your immune system). The immune-boosting benefits of hydration are especially vital during cold winter months, when flu season is at its peak.
3. Hydration is key for a properly functioning digestive system.
Drinking water helps you properly digest your food, keeps you regular, and helps your cells draw adequate nutrients from your blood. Staying hydrated in winter is especially important, then, because maintaining a strong immune system relies on getting adequate nutrition through a healthy, high-functioning digestive system.
4. Dehydration affects your brain function.
From improving concentration to helping you maintain your memory, staying hydrated has major benefits for brain function. Just like the cells in all of our other organs, our brain cells depend on water to help them perform properly. In fact, according to Cognitive Vitality, “The brains of dehydrated adults show signs of increased neuronal activation when performing cognitively engaging tasks, indicating that their brains are working harder than normal to complete the task.” The combination of shorter, darker days, less physical activity, and heavier meals in winter can already make us feel sluggish and slow—add the way dehydration affects your brain cells to the mix, and simple tasks can send our brains into serious overdrive.
5. Staying hydrated in winter can improve your mood.
Dark days, frigid weather, or Seasonal Affective Disorder have you feeling down? Staying hydrated in winter months might help ease the edge of the natural melancholy many of us feel throughout the season. According to Livescience, being “even slightly dehydrated is enough to cause moodiness”. In addition, subjects in a study scored lower on questionnaires assessing mood when they were dehydrated, and, as Livescience concluded, “The critical point here is that if you want to maintain your mood at optimal levels, you need to maintain your hydration.”
So, how can you stay hydrated during winter?
Women should aim for 8-11 cups of fluids each day; while men should aim for 10-15 cups. It’s also critical to ensure your body is getting enough essential vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes every day. In addition to good ol’ fashioned water, reach for a bottle of medical-grade CF(Rehydrate)® for clear, colorless clinical nutrition that delivers the immune-boosting hydration and natural nutrients you need—without harmful dyes, synthetic sugars, or unwelcome additives.
Ready for more goodness? Browse the rest of the CF Nutrition blog for empowering health, wellness, and lifestyle tips. And don’t forget to give your body the best chance at a healthy, flu-free winter by hydrating with the clean, clinical replenishment of CF(Rehyrdate)® and nourishing with the powerful plant-based protein in CF(protein)®, our fan-favorite immunonutrition drink.