Do You Need to Drink Less Water in Winter?’

Most people don’t feel thirsty for water and drink less of it during the winter. This may be because they gravitate towards warmer drinks like hot coco, coffee and tea. Fruits and salads are often swapped out for soups and other hearty meals during the colder meals.

woman holding water bottle out in winter
It’s easy to get dehydrated in winter, which is why it’s important to remind yourself to drink water throughout the day.

Less sweat leads to a lower water requirement

One of the biggest ways that your body loses water is through sweat. You sweat more during warmer temperatures. For this reason, your body might require more water during the summer months. This does not automatically mean, however, that you should decrease your water consumption during the winter months. Most people aren’t drinking enough water altogether. If you aren’t drinking enough water during summer, decreasing the amount of water that you drink during the winter will keep you in a water deficit.

Drinking less water than what your body needs can lead to a whole range of health complications. Since water is used to flush out sodium through the urine, for example, drinking less water will contribute towards high blood pressure. Water is needed by every cell in your body. It is also used to regulate bowel movements, flush out toxins and help with the exchange of hormones and other chemicals throughout the body.

You lose water through your breath

Your body loses a little bit of water with every breath that you take. The reason why this happens is because your lungs and airway passages need to keep themselves moist. Moist lungs and airway passages are more protected against germs and other particles that are found in the air. A moist environment is also more conducive to the best exchange between oxygen and other gases like carbon dioxide. Mucus, for example, is made up of mostly water. If your lungs and airway passages get too dry, they are very susceptible to pathogens and dust particles.

Dry lungs often lead to the over-production of mucus in these airways as an effort to keep them moist. Since mucus is mostly made up of water, dehydration can cause thicker mucus production that is harder to be eliminated. Drinking more water will help them to return to a thinner consistency. Thinner mucus (mucus with a higher water concentration) is easier to get rid of.

cold breath in the middle of water
You can lose a lot of body water just by breathing when it’s cold out.

You might notice that your breathe looks like steam when you step outside into the cold air. This is because the vapor that your lungs release turns into thicker, water-like molecules in the cold. Your lungs are always releasing water when you breathe – even during the hot, summer months.

The immune system and hydration

If you’ve been to the doctor because of the flu or the cold, you’ve almost definitely been told to drink more fluids. Have you ever wondered why doctors are so adamant about drinking more fluids when your immune system is down? This is because the immune system depends greatly on the body’s water supplies to do its job efficiently.

Water is needed by the blood to transport immune cells that detect germs and viruses. Water, in fact, is needed to produce these immune cells in the first place. Water is needed to flush out impurities that are blocking the body from performing at its best. Water is also needed by the cells that need to regenerate after being attacked or damaged by illness.

Sugar and salt increase your water requirement

You might think that you are getting enough water from your regular hot coco, coffee or tea fix. Unfortunately, many beverages can actually dehydrate you even more. Your body uses water to flush out toxins. If the beverages that you drink contain unnatural, processed chemicals like artificial colorants and flavorings, you may be increasing your water need by increasing the amount of toxins that your body needs to eliminate.

Sugar is another nutrient that increases the need for water. It is gyroscopic, meaning that it absorbs water. Too much sugar in the blood can pull water out of the cells. This is one of the reasons why diabetes is so deadly. When blood sugar levels are too high and start pulling water of out the cells to dilute the high blood sugar, cells start to die off from the lack of hydration.

Your blood naturally has less than a teaspoon of sugar at any given time. Drinks that contain a lot of sugar will dramatically increase this. Your body needs water to correct this balance – either by diluting the blood sugar levels or by shuttling the sugar into storage for later use.

Since we tend to eat heartier foods in winter, these foods lead to an increase in salt and fat consumption. Salt increases water need because your body will need to eliminate it through urination. Fat, additionally, requires water to be stored or used as energy.

hot water pouring into cup
Hot water is easier for the body to digest.

Try hot water to stay hydrated

A cold glass of water in the middle of winter can be very refreshing. If you can’t stand the idea of drinking something cold, however, try warming the water or drinking it hot. This is a great way to warm up, stay hydrated and reduce your calorie consumption at the same time.

About the author

Saguren Redyrs from SA Spotters is a personal trainer who is passionate about making the small changes that really matter. He believes that healthy living is more about the small decisions that you make on a daily basis, instead of the big ones that are hard to stick to.