I struggle to drink enough water in winter and the results show. My skin is dryer, my lips get chapped more often and I use eye drops on the regular. I don’t get as thirsty during the day as I do in summer, which means I drink less during the day and end up feeling thirsty and dehydrated at night.
Regardless of the weather, your body still uses up moisture through breathing, sweating and other bodily functions. Dehydration causes headaches, lack of energy, mood changes and even your brain shrinking.
A team from the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London found that our brains don’t work as well after “prolonged states of reduced water intake”. And by that, they were referring to just 90 minutes of sweating without taking in water. They also found that, on average, their subjects’ brains shrank the equivalent of fourteen months of ageing, the same amount as seen after ten weeks of Alzheimer’s.
Considering that our brains are 80% water, it’s not surprising that they would shrink when the body is dehydrated. But shrinkage and a blinding headache are not the only effects of dehydration on the brain.
Another study published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal, showed that having a drink of water when thirsty can speed up your mental abilities by 14%. Researchers, from the University of East London in the UK, found that once thirst is quenched, the brain can focus on the task at hand.*
The key is to have enough water to stay hydrated and performing at your best without overdoing it.
Here’s the things I do that help me get in enough water in the winter months that you can try.
1. Drinking Purified Water
If you’re going to drink, you want to drink the best quality water you can. Because some water sources may contain bacteria, algae and pesticides, the Municipal water that we drink is treated with chemicals like chlorine to get rid of impurities and keep it safe as it moves from the dams, down our aging water system to our taps. Unfortunately, while it runs through the pipes, metals and other contaminants leach into it. Bottled water, whilst better for you, creates a huge amount of plastic waste, which I try to avoid whenever possible. Instead I rely on my H2O CTP Hi-Capacity Countertop Purifier, which is where I get all my drinking water from. Compared to the price of bottled water continuously, is a relatively affordable option and much eco-friendlier. It was also incredibly easy to install, and the clean taste makes it easier and more pleasant to drink from. If that’s too much for you, you can get a filtered water pitcher which you can keep in your fridge or a bottle dispenser.
2. Keep a bottle of water on you at all times
I have a 1 litre glass bottle that I fill up with filtered water and I carry it around the whole day, filling it up when it empties. I’ve noticed that when it’s next to me I’m more likely to reach for it and drink continuously than when I try have glasses of water when I feel thirsty. On days when I’m running around that bottle becomes even more important and when I forget it, you bet I land up with a headache mid-day.
3. Drink either during or right after exercise
No matter what exercise I’m doing, be it high intensity or a low intensity yoga session, I always make sure to have at least one glass straight after. Not only does it restore the water you’ve sweated out, but also being well hydrated has a big impact on your recovery and how your muscles feel post workout.
4. Choose Tea when Water gets boring
When I want something warm during the day I’ll have a tea instead of coffee which is a diuretic. One cup of tea is pretty much one cup of water and counts as your daily intake. Plus, if you choose a herbal or green tea, you’re getting in added benefits with each cup. My current favourite teas are this turmeric tea or Five Roses Apple and Pear Green Tea.
5. Flavour your water
I don’t do this often, but when I want water with something extra I’ll infuse it with fruit or herbs for a natural flavour. My favourite additions are berries, mint and lime. Just add a handful of berries, a few sprigs of mint and some lime slices to a bottle of water. Let it sit for an hour to infuse and drink.
6. Set a reminder
If you’re really bad with remembering to drink, you can set reminders on your phone to have a glass of water. You can download free apps that track your water intake and send you reminders to drink regularly. Try Drink Water reminder or Waterlogged.
*source: H2O International South Africa
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Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.