You know that winter feeling: dry hands, scratchy throat and brittle nails. Other aches and pains in your body are a result of the parched winter air, as well. But, how does this weather affect your hydration?
- Cold, dry air strips water from our bodies faster than warm, humid air, according to The American Hiking Society.
- A change from water-based vegetables to starchy winter vegetables eliminates important hydration from your diet.
- Your body works harder to warm the air that you breathe in, especially if you're at an altitude of 10,000 feet or more, as reported by Campmor.com.
Now that you know why winter hydration is so common, it's time to consider how you can avoid it while you explore the outdoors in the offseason.
1. Focus on Nutrition
When you switch from big salads and water-rich fruit to thick stews and winter vegetable casseroles, your body notices the change. When you decrease your intake of water-rich food you have to substitute for the missing hydration. Focus on nutrition to prevent winter dehydration with these two tips:
Decrease Sodium: Sodium keeps water outside your cells, which gives dehydration a helping hand. Look for sodium levels in pre-packaged soups and other convenient food items for the trail. Eat foods with less than 250 mg of sodium per serving. The best way to do this is to make your own foods, like soup with low-sodium broth, for example.
Increase Potassium: Unlike sodium, potassium brings water into your cells, which helps hydrate your entire body. Add high-potassium foods like coconut water, dark leafy greens, white beans, fish and bananas into your trailside diet this time of year.
2. Drink Up
The hot summer air makes you feel thirsty, and so you carry around water bottles and eat fresh watermelon, both of which quench your thirst. In the winter, especially while you're on the trail, you may not think to drink as much water because you're cold. Yet it's crucial you drink just as much, if not more.
One way to ensure you stay hydrated is to use the right equipment. Bring a backpack with a built-in bladder so you'll have more than enough water. Warm water is also easier for your body to digest, and storing it close to your body will help keep it at room temperature, and avoid freezing.