Winter Dehydration & Natural Electrolyte Drink
Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration is just as much of a concern in the Winter as it is in warmer months.
This is because the colder weather has us more concerned about warming up than cooling down, often jeopardising our water intake. “People just don’t feel as thirsty when the weather is cold,” says Robert Kenefick, UNH associate professor of kinesiology. “When they don’t feel thirsty, they don’t drink as much, and this can cause dehydration.”
It’s a common yet highly risky behaviour as even mild dehydration can lead to impaired brain functioning, confusion, & even to ventricular pauses or cardiac arrest, all of which happened to me due to dehydration. I’m avid about adequate hydration but one day left me by the wayside and landed me in the hospital.
Why Dehydration is a Concern During Winter
Dehydration is commonly misperceived as a result of excessive sweating and lack of hydration. Although those are legitimate & dominant reasons, colder weather also has its complementary causes.
Water not only seeps out through sweat but also through breathing, and when it’s cold, dry air, this results in even more water loss since the body has to warm up the entering air.
According to research, thirst is reduced by 40 percent when it’s cold and “the kidneys get a diminished signal to conserve fluid, and thirst sensation is reduced by up to 40 percent.” This reduces our ability to rely on bodily cues for thirst. Tip: Either set a reminder on your phone to remind you every hour to check your level of thirst & hydrate or use an app to track your hydration levels.
In addition to water intake, consider eating more water-rich foods, which you can read more about in our archived article on How to Hydrate.
For athletes, casual exercisers, and children, this delicate homeostasis is especially a concern. Chemical-, preservative-, and sugar-laden electrolyte drinks are often the norm for this group, so we created the recipe below as a healthy alternative. It has hibiscus or Agua de Jamaica, which is clinically proven to be more beneficial than pharmaceutical diuretic in balancing electrolytes & blood pressure.
4 bags of Hibiscus Tea, brewed in 4 cups of water
½ cup of organic coconut water
The juice of three lemons
Monk Fruit extract to sweeten, optional
Brew the Hibiscus tea in hot water for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
When the tea is brewed, add the remaining ingredients & serve at room temperature or cold.
About the Author
Almila Kakinc-Dodd is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief of The Thirlby. She is also the author of the book The Thirlby: A Field Guide to a Vibrant Mind, Body, & Soul. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Nursing as a Dean’s Scholar at Johns Hopkins University. Her background is in Anthropology & Literature, which she has further enriched through her Integrative Health Practitioner training at Duke University. She lives in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area, where she regularly contributes to various publications. She is a member of Democratic Socialists of America and urges others to join the movement.