Keep Hydrated – Even When It’s Cold Outside

HYANNIS – When it’s hot and humid outside, few of us need to be reminded to drink. But we may not think it’s as important when the weather cools down.

Staying well hydrated is a year-round necessity, according to Mallory Doolan, RD, LDN, a clinical dietitian at Falmouth Hospital.

“Everyone needs to stay hydrated to stay healthy. Whatever the temperature outside, your body’s need for water is constant,” she said.

According to theNational Institutes of Health, it’s important for your body to have plenty of fluids each day because water helps you digest your food, absorb nutrients and then get rid of the unused waste. Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles, and it helps the muscles work efficiently.

Doolan, a member of theAcademy of Nutrition and Dietetics, refers to their website for the following symptoms to watch for when our bodies need more liquids.

Know the signs of dehydration

Early signs are:

  • Thirst
  • Flushed skin
  • Fatigue after minimal exertion
  • Increased body temperature
  • Faster breathing and pulse rate
  • Increased perception of effort
  • Decreased exercise capacity

Later signs include:

  • Dizziness
  • Increased weakness
  • Labored breathing with exercise

When temperatures drop and we’re wearing layers of clothing to venture outside, it’s easy to forget how important it is to keep drinking. Doolan offered the following tips for staying hydrated year-round:

  • Keep water nearby. Make sure it’s convenient to grab by having water near your bed, in the car and at work. Make sure out of sight isn’t out of mind.
  • Drink water at regular intervals when you exercise. (This includes shoveling snow and other outdoor work, not just your aerobics class or evening run.)
  • Try fruit-infused water to add extra flavor. Add lemon, strawberry, mint, or anything you can place in a water pitcher in the refrigerator to add a little variety.
  • Fluids such as alcohol, coffee and tea can be dehydrating if they are not balanced adequately with water. Not all fluids support hydration. Water is always a smart choice!

“I try to keep an extra pitcher of water in the refrigerator so that it is easy to grab a healthy choice when you’re on the run. Cucumber slices are my favorite things to infuse in water,” Doolan said.

You might want to keep some of your own cold weather favorites on hand this winter. Just the thought of steaming hot chocolate waiting inside when you’re trudging through the blowing snow outside may be enough to remind you to stay hydrated.

By BETH ANN LOMBARDI, Cape Cod Health News

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