Dehydration and hot weather tend to go hand in hand, but the idea of winter dehydration may be somewhat less familiar. In the summertime, it may take just one step outside for your body to immediately start loosing water via sweat. That sweat, though usually sticky and unwelcome, also serves as a key reminder for us to replenish what was visibly lost with more water. In addition, when the temperatures are higher, your brain is more likely to send out thirst cues as an innate reminder to hydrate.

ice, water, splash, cup of water, water cup, water splash, dropping ice
Jocelyn Hsu

What many people don’t realize, however, is that just because we can’t see our skin sweating in the sun, our bodies are losing water in cold weather too. For starters, we may be sweating from our extra layers of clothes, and that sweat tends to evaporate much faster off our bodies in cold weather. In addition, simply breathing in cold and dry air results in greater water loss through respiration compared to warmer weather. Other contributing factors to winter dehydration include decreased humidity in the air, lack of thirst signals from the brain, and increased fluid loss with more frequent colds and flus. Without the obvious signals to drink enough water, dehydration during the winter months often goes unacknowledged.

The problem is, winter dehydration can bring muscle cramping, fatigue, an elevated heart rate, headaches, or even leave you feeling excessively hungry. On the other hand, maintaining a good hydration status can boost your immunity, improve focus, prevent your skin from drying out, and even keep your hair silky smooth. So, although staying hydrated in the winter may take a bit more conscious effort, it is absolutely worth it. 

Here are a few tips to beat winter dehydration: 

1. Cozy Up with a Warm Drink 

While an ice cold glass of water sounds like the perfect cure for dehydration, warm water can do the trick too. Or, if that isn't exciting enough for you, try herbal tea, warm lemon water, or hot chocolate for a warm and hydrating alternative. 

tea, green tea

2. Eat Your Water 

Of course drinking water is important, but what you may not realize is that 20-30% of hydration actually comes from your diet. In the summertime, juicy watermelon, crunchy cucumbers, and tomatoes are all around 80-95% water and contribute to our warm weather hydration status, maybe without us even recognizing it. In the winter months, the quantity of those fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in water content tend to decrease due to seasonal availability, while starchy winter vegetables lower in water content may increase.

pear, apple, pasture, sweet, juice
Meghan Buonanno

Fear not, though, there are plenty of other winter friendly foods that are high in water content and can help you stay hydrated. Pears, kale, clementines, and brussels sprouts are a few in season hydrating fruits and vegetables to add to your diet. While grains cooked with water, such as oatmeal or rice, can also give you an extra hydrating boost. Other options you may not have considered include yogurt, applesauce, or even jello.

3. Celebrate Soup Season 

Winter is the perfect time to cozy up with a bowl of warm soup. Try one of these fun recipes this winter for an equally hydrating and delicious dinner. 

bread, vegetable, parsley, cream, soup, butternut squash soup, bisque, spoon
Julia Gilman

4. Avoid Foods and Beverages Causing Dehydration 

While holiday parties may be full of alcoholic beverages and a warm latte feels like the perfect winter pick-me-up, these beverages may actually be contributing to winter dehydration. Both act as mild diuretics and may promote fluid loss. While the effect may not be major, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine may be a good idea if you are struggling to maintain a healthy hydration status this winter. Instead, try making a conscious effort to drink electrolyte containing beverages, like coconut water or a sports drink, to prevent dehydration. 

cafe, caffeine, energy, Drink, hot, Cold, Winter, Fall, Pretty, plate, mug, Blue, White, Brown, milk, foam, cream, coffee, latte
Katie Kasperson

5. Stay Alert! 

Simply staying conscious of your water intake is one of the best ways to stay hydrated this winter. Whether that means setting a reminder on your phone to take a drink of water, keeping an eye on the color of your urine, or finding a buddy to hold you accountable. Stay alert of how much water you are drinking and adjust accordingly.

water, phone, IPhone, music, earphones, working out, Work Out, cardio, exercise, Exercising, fitness
Denise Uy

While science may have no precise answer for how much water a person needs to drink in a day, what we do know is that our bodies themselves are 60% water so staying hydrated is key to a healthy life. Remember not to overdo it though, as over-hydration can have negative effects as well. So, until the warm weather is back and your body is begging you for a continuous stream of ice cold water, cozy up with a warm cup of tea or a bowl of soup and stay hydrated this winter!