The Cold Snap, and Your Hydration

It’s cold!  If you’re in one of the few spots in the country that hasn’t been chilled lately, lucky you.  For most of us, it’s been a brutal winter so far.

One of the side effects of all this cold is all the heat we’re pumping through our homes. And that makes our bodies drier: not only externally (dry skin, dry hair, dry mucous membranes) but internally. Almost every one of my clients has been under-hydrated the past couple of weeks.  (I test using bio-impedance.) Many people are coming in with hydration rates close to 40%. Optimal hydration is 50-60% for women and higher for men.

Why is hydration important?

1. Being even a couple percent under-hydrated can slow down your metabolism, and leave you feeling foggy, tired and lethargic.

2. How much water is in your cells is also an indication of how successfully other substances get into your cells, including nutrients and insulin.  Thus, hydration levels can give us insights into how insulin resistant or insulin sensitive you are, which is one of the foundations of health.  It’s not simply how much is going in, it’s how much your body is able to absorb and utilize.

With the heat on unrelentingly it takes more water to stay properly hydrated.  Chap stick and moisturizers feel nice and help with temporary symptomatic relief, but hydration is primarily an inside job.

Now is a great time to up your fluid intake.  Broths, teas, water (of course), seltzer, green juices, and kombucha are my favorite hydrators.  (Kombucha is a fermented tea that is nutrient-rich, anti-microbial, probiotic and delicious.  You can try some at the health food store, and if you like it, it is very easy and inexpensive to make at home.)

Anyone can make a healthy nourishing hydrating broth.  Fill a stock pot with water, herbs, root vegetables like carrots, onions, parsnips, turnips, potatoes, yams, crushed garlic, some parsley or leafy greens if you like, leeks, celery -you get the idea!  Add sea salt, and cook on low for at least a few hours.  If you want to get fancier, you can braise the herbs, seasonings and vegetables first in a bit of olive oil, before adding the water.  After the broth is finished, you can strain the vegetables out, blend them for a puree, or leave them in the broth.

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