Intermountain Healthcare

Winter Hydration Just as Important, Often Neglected

Intermountain Healthcare experts say just because it isn't hot, people still need to hydrate


Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/05/2021 --A focus on staying hydrated typically comes when the weather is hot. But according to nutrition experts at Intermountain Healthcare, people actually are just as likely to become dehydrated in the winter and experience low energy and a loss of focus as a result.

"When it's cold outside, people forget about hydration," said Elizabeth Hill, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Intermountain Healthcare. "They find they've gone all day without drinking much water. Beverages like coffee, sodas or hot chocolate don't help with hydration, and actually can dehydrate the body more than drinking nothing at all."

Hill explains the benefits of a well-hydrated body include:

- Keeping the body cool by producing sweat, which is made from water.

- Preventing constipation.

- Helping control body weight, as people who are dehydrated often mistake thirst for hunger.

Wintertime hydration, however, can be hard to maintain due to the following factors:

- The sense of thirst is diminished by up to 40 percent in the winter.

- People lose more fluids as they breathe when the temperatures are lower.

- Wearing extra layers leads the body to create more sweat, which is hard to recognize because sweat evaporates more slowly in colder weather.

"Common winter beverage choices also can affect the body's ability to stay well hydrated," said Hill. "Caffeinated drinks are diuretics, which means they can result in dehydration. Sodas, juices, and hot chocolate drinks also contain extra sugar and calories that your body doesn't need."

Hill recommends drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated. At meals, choose a glass of water instead of soda or coffee to drink. Add a side glass of water to accompany other beverages like soda, juice or coffee. Aim to drink half of your body weight in fluid ounces per day. For example, a 150-pound person would drink 75 ounces of water per day.

For people who prefer warm beverages in the winter, caffeine-free herbal teas can help with fluid intake and hydration without a diuretic effect, Hill said. They can also help boost immune health and promote healthy digestive systems.

How to know if you're dehydrated? Here are some signs to watch for:
- decrease in urine production
- dry mouth
- sluggishness, fatigue
- sugar cravings
- headache

"Don't let wearing a mask keep you from drinking enough water," adds Hill. "Take frequent water breaks and maximize times when you do not have to wear a mask by staying socially distanced, outdoors or at home."

About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see