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One of the biggest mistake many people make in winter is that they forget to drink
water. In summer, dehydration is obvious – temperature soaring steadily, beads of
sweat rolling off your brows, your vision starts to blur, you know you have to grab
a glass or bottle of water and drink up.
In contrast with summer, the signs and symptoms of dehydration in winter may be subtle
and gradual, making dehydration difficult to detect.
Psychologically, it can be rather easy to forget hydration during winter because
it’s cold and we’re less likely to feel thirsty but heavy exercises or activities
such as shoveling snow, cycling, mountaineering, snowing-shoeing, skiing or skating
can cause your body to lose more than 2 liters of water an hour and increase your
risks of dehydration.
Also, factor in dry winter air, the use of heaters indoors and the layers of thick
clothing, winter dehydration can be happen.
Water is necessary for various body functions and maintenance of good health. Not
only is water required to regulate the body’s temperature through sweating and keep
the body tissues – lungs, nose, mouth – moist, it is also needed to remove toxins
and waste from the body, and transports nutrients and oxygen to cells.
In addition, water also protects your spinal cord and lubricates joints, preventing
joint and muscle stiffness.
The signs and symptoms of winter dehydration are very much the same as dehydration
in summer, and it can range from mild to severe.
Pay attention to the following warning signs of dehydration and make sure you drink
plenty of water even if you don't feel thirsty.
Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration Include
• Dry sticky mouth, skin and mucous membrane
• Mild or extreme thirst
• Sleepiness, tiredness, irritability or decreased alertness
• Decreased, little or no urination
• Muscle weakness or spasms
• Headaches, dizziness or lightheadedness
• Sunken eyes, dry shriveled skin that lack elasticity
• Low blood pressure
• Rapid heartbeat
Preventing dehydration in the winter months is very simple; just make sure you drink
regularly in small amounts to keep yourself well hydrated at all times. Always have
a water bottle with you – on your desk at work, in your car, in your gym bag – and
refill it often.
Keep in mind that being thirsty or having a dry mouth is not a true indicator of
how much water your body needs. Therefore, you should consume plenty of fluids even
if you don’t feel thirsty. This is the best way to stay adequately hydrated before
the thirst mechanism begins to work and alert you to drink up.
Broadly speaking, the total daily water loss is about 2500ml (women) to 3000ml (men)
per day. So as a general rule of thumb, drink at least 8 (8 ounce) glasses of water
a day to replace this water loss. How much water you need, however, depends on a
number of factors, including your age, weight, activity level and current health
Elderly people are particular vulnerable to dehydration. This may be due reasons
like decline in kidney function with age, weak thirst mechanism, and hormonal changes,
just to name a few.
You may also have to consume more liquids if you’re taking medications that cause
the body to lose water, such as diuretics for hypertension (high blood pressure)
and laxative, or suffering from a disease that cause vomiting (cancer) or diarrhea
Additionally, you’ll also need to increase your water intake if you’re on a high
protein diet (Atkins diet), or on a high fibre diet.
Be mindful that diuretic drinks, like alcohol – beer, white wine, red wine – encourage
water loss by increasing urine production. It is therefore important to avoid beverages
that contain caffeine, such as coffee, teas, sodas and energy drinks. Or, drink more
water to compensate for the diuretic effects of such drinks. The idea is to balance
the amount of water that goes in your body with the amount of water being lost through
urination, breathing and sweating.
A simple way to tell if you’re getting enough fluids is, look at the color of your
urine. If you see a dark yellow urine color that has a strong smell, or if you go
to the toilet less than 4 times a day, then this means that you’ll need to up your
water intake. Some common signs of an inadequate water intake like constipation,
and dry cracked lips may also indicate a need to drink more water.
Besides drinking water, there are many other ways to meet your total daily fluid
needs. For example, eat plenty of water-rich fruits and vegetables such as watermelon,
orange, lettuce and cucumber. Juices, yogurts, soups and broths are also a great
way to keep up your water intake during the winter months.