Water makes up the biggest proportion of our bodies – some 65-70% or more. We need water to regulate our body temperature and absorb nutrients. Water lubricates our joints, mucus membranes, eyes, and spinal cords. It flushes toxins and keeps us from becoming constipated.
During the hot summer, we tend to get thirsty quickly. But when the weather’s cold, we often don’t feel as thirsty and it’s easy to skimp on the water.
In fact, many experts say that by the time you get thirsty, you might already be dehydrated. And a drop of just 2% in the volume of water in your body can cause dizziness, cramps, fatigue, and trouble concentrating.
Winter’s Dehydrating Effects
Forced-air heating in the winter can dry the air, causing you to lose more moisture just by breathing. And if you’re active outdoors – skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, or shoveling snow – you might be losing moisture through perspiration without realizing it.
Winter’s dry air can dehydrate your mucus membranes and decrease your resistance to disease. These dry membranes can also cause symptoms that many people mistake for allergies.
How Much Water Do You Need?
The amount of water you need depends on a number of things: your size, your level of physical exertion, and the types of food you eat, to name just a few.
Some government guidelines suggest you divide your body weight in half and drink that amount in ounces per day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you would drink 75 ounces, or 9 cups 3 ounces, of water per day. Some experts recommend you drink even more.
Of course, you get water from food and other drinks in addition to water. Drinks with caffeine, sugar, and salt all reduce the hydration effects of beverages, however. In general, water is the most effective way to get hydration.
Perk Up Your Water
If “plain old water” sounds too boring, here are some ways to make this essential beverage more interesting.
- Drink herbal teas
- Use herbs like mint, lemongrass, or parsley to add aroma and flavor to cold or hot water
- Freeze lemon slices in ice cubes
- Add antioxidants to plain water by adding crushed strawberries or blueberries