Dehydration, the loss of too much fluid from your body, isn’t just a worry in summer. It is just as easy to get dehydrated in cold dry air. In fact, with the added factor of alcohol consumption increasing as we approach festive party season, I’d go as far as saying that dehydration is even more of an issue in winter than in summer when we are much more aware of quenching our thirst at regular intervals.
One of the first signs of dehydration is thirst. Other signs include tiredness, lack of concentration and low energy levels - looking in the mirror and spotting more wrinkles than normal is another clue!
But drinking lots of water in one go isn’t the answer because your kidneys will generally react by increasing the speed at which you lose it - put simply, you’ll need to go to the toilet sooner! That’s why it’s important to sip fluids, and/or eat hydrating foods, regularly through the day.
Essential fats can help with skin hydration and the skin’s barrier function too as reported by a clinical study published in 2011 in medical journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology so ensure adequate intake, especially over the more vulnerable winter months.
How much should I drink?
The European Food Safety Authority recommends that women consume two litres of fluids a day, and that men consume 2.5 litres. It’s important to note that this isn’t just from water. In fact, we get up to a third of our fluids from food. Soup, for example, is 80% water, and is ideal for this time of year. You will need more than this if you exercise a lot.
All drinks count towards your daily fluid intake, except alcohol, which tends to be dehydrating. Herbal tea and water are the best choices, but milk, juice, tea and coffee all count, too. You may have heard that caffeine has a diuretic effect. This is true, but on overall balance a cup of tea or a weak cup of coffee is actually hydrating because it contains plenty of fluid. Feel free to have one or two cups of tea or coffee a day as part of your overall fluid intake.
Green tea has had lots of positive press in recent years. One interesting benefit is that it is a much better choice for keeping your teeth strong and pearly white than many other drinks. We all know that sugary drinks contribute to tooth decay, but many people aren't aware that the fruit acids found in fruit teas can damage tooth enamel too. Both black and green tea are not only free from sugar and fruit acids, they're rich in compounds that prevent the growth of cavity-causing bacteria, and contain polyphenols that can help prevent bad breath. Green tea is less likely to stain the teeth, so it's the best choice all-round.
Lots of people who dislike still water are fans of sparkling water. The myth that it’s bad for you is due to it being wrongly associated with fizzy drinks. It is a handy adultish-drink when you are the designated driver on a night out too.
Different types of mineral water have different mineral contents, and can be either naturally sparkling or have the bubbles added to them using a carbonation process.
Some people will tell you that carbonation makes them acidic, but there's no evidence that this is harmful (tests have been done to find out if sparkling water damages teeth and it doesn't). The key thing is that all types of water are hydrating, and unless you experience any digestive discomfort after drinking it, choosing sparkling is absolutely fine.
Here are a couple of thirst-quenching drink ideas more suited to colder days.
Fresh peppermint tea
Pour boiling water over a few fresh mint leaves and leave it to steep for 5-10 minutes. Add honey and lemon juice to taste.
Honey, lemon and ginger tea
Peel and chop a 1cm piece of fresh ginger and place it in a mug with a large slice of lemon and a teaspoon of honey. The better the quality the honey, the better the anti-bacterial qualities. Top with boiling water and leave to steep for 5-10 minutes. Strain and serve.
Sip hydrating, sugar-free drinks throughout the day, even in winter.
Check your intake of essential fats. Use Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil Blend to boost levels
Consume ginger and honey for an antibacterial boost.
Try Green tea instead of regular tea or coffee
Be mindful of your alcohol intake