Hydration Through the Holidays & Beyond

Hydration, hydration hydration! It seems to be drilled into our minds the fact that it is important, but few of us understand the reasons why it is so beneficial for the body. Because the winter season is upon us, we’ll look at a few reasons why hydration matters for different functions, as well as what we should do in order to stay properly hydrated.

With the cold front coming in at full speed, proper water consumption of 64 oz/day or more will help the immune system fight more efficiently. One of the practical ways water helps strengthen our bodies defenses is by hydrating our mucous membranes, located in our nose and throat. This is paramount because the linings in our nose and throat are one of our body’s first defenses to trap and kill harmful pathogens. If these membranes are dry instead of hydrated, those pathogens are able to enter our body directly and cause us to become more susceptible to getting sick and contracting flu viruses and the like.

With the snow and the frigid temperatures, the holiday season is here! Which means that holiday parties and gatherings are in no short supply. For those of us who want to see pounds come off rather than pack on, the accessibility to food alone during this time can be a significant challenge. However, managing alcohol or “holiday cheer” as some affectionately refer to it, can be a whole different ball game. The hesitation with consuming alcohol usually comes from knowing that alcoholic beverages are caloric, but their dehydrating effect on the body is another aspect to consider. Alcohol increases urination which is the first step in the “dehydration loop” which is urination → dehydration → thirst. When people feel thirst they usually reach for another alcoholic beverage, but unfortunately this only perpetuates the dehydration loop. Instead the solution is to drink a nonalcoholic (preferably calorie-free) beverage in between alcoholic drinks.

Additionally, with holiday parties, catered events and lavish home cooking, sodium will be in high supply. Following the principle of osmosis, sodium consumption will increase water retention, thus impacting weight by holding on to excess water. Drinking adequate amounts of water or even increasing volume of water consumed will help flush out sodium and lessen impact on weight.

It’s common for an individual to start the new year with a renewed resolve to get healthy and lose weight, which is a very worthy goal indeed! However, discouragement can quickly set in when one steps on the scale to get their new year starting weight. Often times it is higher than where they were pre-Thanksgiving, which can deflate the morale of some, but this does not have to be the case. Certainly being careful to watch portions and quality of food throughout the holidays will help, but the simple act of hydrating can also be a big step in the right direction.

So this season, put in the effort and strive to stay hydrated, so you can ring in the New Year with your best foot forward. Make the end of 2018 be just as healthy as you want next year to be.