October 22, 2012

How Much Water Should You Drink in Cold Climates?

If you think cold climate requires less water intake than temperate climate, you are wrong. Extreme cold temperature requires you to drink as much water as in warm and humid temperatures. You may not feel thirsty or sweat excessively in a cold climate but that doesn’t mean you are well hydrated. Studies have found that extreme temperatures either hot or cold require you to drink more water than in temperate conditions to keep yourself from dehydrating.

In extreme cold temperatures, to stay warm, you may have to be physically active or your body begins to shiver to generate heat. Your metabolism increases and this burns a lot of calories. If you are not drinking enough water you may feel even colder as dehydration reduces your appetite and weakens your shivering response. Dehydration also makes you sluggish and holds you back from doing any physical activity that can help you stay warm.

Don’t trust your thirst mechanism at extremely cold temperatures. It is weakened at cold temperatures and you may have to drink more than how much your thirst mechanism tells you to drink. You need more water because every time you breathe your body is forced to warm and humidify the cold, dry air you inhale and you lose significant amounts of water for every exhalation.

Proper nutrition is important in cold climates. Food provides fuel for your working muscles and helps you accumulate fat that insulates your body from the cold. Eat warm foods so they can warm you up. Cold foods and cold fluids can chill your body and keep your teeth chattering a lot. Avoid eating unmelted and unpurified ice or snow. They lower your body temperature and increase the risk of diarrhea. It may also damage the lining in your mouth. So along with protective clothing and shelter make sure you have enough food and water to help you fight against the cold. Extra salt intake should be avoided as salt increases your need for water. Caffeine and alcohol consumption has to be decreased since they dehydrate your body. Alcohol not only dehydrates your body, it also dilates the blood vessels leading to heat loss.

Water helps you to maintain your body temperature and it reduces the risk of hypothermia and frostbite, which may develop at abnormally low body temperatures. Hypothermia is a condition in which body temperature drops very low for normal metabolism of the body. It can lead to confusion and make you go clumsy and sleepy. Hypothermia is very dangerous and life threatening. Frostbite happens when a part of your body gets frozen and it can even lead to amputation. So drinking enough water in cold weather is as important as it is in hot weather. You may not feel thirsty when it’s freezing outside, but drink plenty of water anyway!

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