Cold weather can trick us. When the weather is hot, our need to stay hydrated is obvious but, beginning in the fall, drier air can cause us to dehydrate (even though we don’t feel thirsty). Researchers say that seniors should drink more water to compensate for changes in their bodies. Luckily, there are some warm beverages available for seniors that are both delicious and nutritious – making it easy to consume plenty of fluids in the cold seasons.

Hydration Benefits

Consuming a sufficient quantity of fluids has many health benefits:

  • Maintaining physical energy and brain function
  • Helping to prevent and treat headaches
  • Reducing muscle pain
  • Relieving constipation
  • Maintaining skin quality
  • Aiding in weight loss

Dehydration in senior adults can result in acute kidney failure and electrolyte imbalances, which can be deadly. In addition, the amount of fluid in our body begins to decrease as we age, and therefore have fewer water reserves to draw upon.

How Much Should You Drink?

The old rule of eight, eight-ounce glasses of water per day has no basis in science. The quantity of fluids a person should consume is determined by a number of factors:

  • Body weight
  • Age
  • Medications
  • Fitness and activity levels

There are charts to calculate the proper daily water intake, but it may be best to consult your physician who will be aware of your unique fluid needs.

5 Warm Beverages to Keep You Cozy This Fall

1. Hot Lemon Water

Water is the best hydrator because it is the simplest and, therefore, easiest fluid for the body to process. Adding a twist of lemon adds flavor and some vitamin C. The steam from the water held close to the face may help loosen clogged sinuses, and the water aids digestion, as well as hydration.

2. Herbal Tea

Switch your regular tea to herbal teas. These can be prepared at home and will not contribute to the overconsumption of caffeine. There are plenty of herbal teas available, including:

  1. Chamomile. This tea has been used in herbal remedies for thousands of years. Known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, it is considered a soothing tea blend and if taken just before bedtime, it may promote digestive health and play a role in lowering blood sugar.
  2. Ginger. This tea has been used to settle the stomach. and In addition, research has shown it can be protective against heart disease and help control blood sugar.
  3. Green. Green tea is extremely popular, containing a wide array of antioxidants to protect the body from damage and boost the immune system.
  4. Lemongrass tea has a bright, comforting flavor that may reduce some forms of anxiety. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Coffee

Coffee gets a bad rap because drinking more than one cup a day has not traditionally been recommended, but studies show that drinking black coffee has many health benefits. It is naturally rich in many nutrients, and is high in antioxidants. The caffeine in coffee provides a short-term brain boost, and studies indicate lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Coffee drinkers have also demonstrated a reduced risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

4. Warm Apple Cider with Cinnamon

For many, apples are the flavor of fall and there is nothing like a glass of sweet, warm apple cider to quench your thirst and help with your sweet tooth. Apple cider is a great source of vitamin C and iron, which helps with tissue repair and is a boost to the immune system. Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, and tends to lower blood sugar. This is one of the great warm beverages for someone seeking healthy hydration and flavor.

5. Hot Cocoa

Dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure and increase serotonin levels, which produce a calming, soothing effect. And cocoa contains powerful antioxidants that reduce inflammation. The key is to look for cocoa mixes that list dark chocolate as their first ingredient (at least 70 percent cocoa). To make your hot cocoa even healthier, make it with low-fat milk.

Warm Drink Recipes

While these recipes for fall- and winter-themed warm beverages are considered healthy, please observe any dietary restrictions you may have.

Warm Spiced Apple Juice Punch

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 2-1/4 cups water
  • 1 can (6 ounces) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • ¾ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp ground ginger
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Directions:

In a 3-qt. slow cooker, combine the apple juice, water, orange juice concentrate, nutmeg and ginger. Place cloves and cinnamon sticks on a double thickness of cheesecloth; bring up corners of cloth and tie with string to form a bag. Place bag in slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until heated through. Remove and discard spice bag.

Note: A ¾ cup serving contains: 94 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat) 0 cholesterol, 14 mg sodium, 23 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram protein.

No-Sugar-Added Minty Hot Cocoa

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-2 packets of Splenda sweetener
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp peppermint extract

Directions:

Mix cocoa, Splenda, and salt in a large mug. Heat milk in microwave for 1-1/2 minutes, until hot. Gradually add hot milk to cocoa mixture in mug, stirring until well blended. Stir in vanilla and peppermint. Yields one serving.

To find more recipes and resources on senior health and wellness, visit Bethesda’s blog.