True or false? You’re more likely to become dehydrated during the summer than you are during the winter – False! You are actually more likely to become dehydrated during the winter because the cold can shut off your sense of thirst – even if you’re dehydrated! Your risk of dehydration may seem to be less in the wintertime, but it actually increases. It’s not uncommon for skiers to suffer severe dehydration at high altitudes simply because they forgot to drink water. But with these four simple superhydration tips, you can stay hydrated and on top of your game all winter long.
How cold affects the sensation of thirst
The sensation of thirst is triggered by fluid regulating hormones such as plasma argentine vasopressin (AVP), which is released into the bloodstream to stimulate thirst by the hypothalamus. There are two factors that trigger the hypothalamus to release AVP:
- Sodium levels in the bloodstream increase
- Overall blood volume decreases
Sodium levels in the bloodstream increase when water is lost. When the concentration of sodium gets too high, your thirst sensation is triggered to encourage you to drink water Blood volume decreases as water is lost. This also makes the blood thicker.
Cold can prevent the body from noticing a loss of blood volume because when you get cold, your body decreases the flow of blood to your extremities – a process called vasoconstriction – to decrease heat loss. Even if the brain detects an increase in sodium vasoconstriction tricks the brain into thinking the bloodstream has more fluid in it that it actually does. This reduces secretion of the thirst hormone AVP, which prevents the kidneys from conserving water.
Alkaline Water is better for Hydration
Alkaline water hydrates faster and better than plain water, and it helps the body rehydrate faster after becoming dehydrated. The benefit of alkaline water for hydration has been tested and demonstrated in multiple studies on athletes and firefighters – both are groups prone to severe dehydration.
In each test, compared to plain water, alkaline water drinkers rehydrated faster and more thoroughly. Cyclists who drank alkaline water in studies performed at Montana State University also retained better hydration levels during exercise than cyclists who drank plain water.
4 Tips to Maintain Healthy Hydration with Alkaline Water this Winter
- Hydrate before you go outside – Make sure you’re well hydrated before cold interferes with your sense of thirst
- Monitor the color of your urine – It should be clear to pale yellow. If it’s darker, you’re dehydrated
- Perform the pinch test – Put your hand on a flat surface. Pinch the skin about an inch behind any knuckle. When you release it, the skin should snap back immediately, if it doesn’t, you’re dehydrated
- Time yourself – make sure you drink at least eight ounces of water per hour if you’re engaged in physical activity. A 16 ounce bottle of water should be enough for most activities, just make sure you drink it all!
By making sure you’re well hydrated before going out, and making sure you stay hydrated by drinking 8 ounces of water per hour, you’ll maintain the healthy hydration levels you need. If you’re in doubt about your hydration before going outside, perform the pinch test and/or check the color of your urine. You can use alkaline water to make hot beverages if you don’t like drinking cold beverages in cold weather. Just avoid using it to make coffee or tea because both of those beverages are diuretics – they make you urinate more frequently so you end up losing water.
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Keeler, Sharon. “Cold Weather Increases Risk Of Dehydration.” Cold Weather Increases Risk Of Dehydration. University of New Hampshire, 28 Jan. 2005. Web. 25 Nov. 2014. <http://www.unh.edu/news/news_releases/2005/january/sk_050128cold.html>.
Heil, D. “Acid-base balance and hydration status following consumption of mineral-based alkaline bottled water..” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13 Sep 2010. Web. 26 Mar 2014. <http://www.jissn.com/content/7/1/29>.
Heil, P and Seifert, J. Influence of bottled water on rehydration following a dehydrating bout of cycling exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition Springerlink July 2009.http://www.springerlink.com/content/kn41764j65165u3x/fulltext.pdf
Holsworth, R, , and et al. “Effect of Hydration on Whole Blood Viscosity in Firefighters.” ebscohost. Alternative Therapies, n.d. Web. 27 Dec 2013. <http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/[email protected]5&vid=2&hid=4112>.