Should You Stop Drinking Alcohol in Winter? Decoding IMD’s Advise

What’s the relationship between alcohol and the cold weather? Read on for tips to stay healthy in the winters.

Updated
Health News
4 min read
What’s the relationship between alcohol and the cold weather? 
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As the days turn chilly and noses start to run, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued an advisory on protecting your health as the weather turns.

They have forecast maximum temperatures to fall by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius after December 28, and have advised limiting alcohol intake as it can lower your body temperature.

But aren’t we always told to have whiskey or brandy in the cold?

FIT explains the science behind the new advisory.

Should You Stop Drinking Alcohol in Winter? Decoding IMD’s Advise

  1. 1. What Did IMD Say Exactly?

    The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning advising North Indian residents to protect themselves from the cold by avoiding alcohol.

    As per IMD predictions, parts of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan are to see severe cold wave conditions from December 29 onward.

    The IMD’s impact-based advisory stated that the adverse weather could cause an increase in chances of getting the flu or colds or nosebleeds or even frostbite in extreme conditions.

    To help us avoid these health risks, the IMD shared a list of recommendations like eating foods with vitamin C, drinking warm water and hot beverages, staying indoors and also, avoiding alcohol as it “reduces your body temperature.”
    Expand
  2. 2. Can Alcohol Harm You in the Winter-Time?

    Usually as the weather dips and we get cozy, reaching out to a warm alcoholic drink seems like the way to go. But experts disagree.

    Alcohol might make you feel warmer at the moment, but it actually reduces your body temperature and makes you more susceptible to illnesses by reducing your immunity levels. If you notice, your natural shivering response is also reduced if you’ve had alcohol - this means that you often don’t notice how cold it is and don't adequately protect yourself.

    According to WebMD, alcohol leaves you dehydrated and makes any congestion worse as well.

    As per this study conducted in the Journal of Wilderness Medicine, alcohol can reduce your body’s core temperature and can up the chances of hypothermia when exposed to the cold. MayoClinic describes hypothermia as a “medical emergency,” where your body loses heat faster than it can produce it which causes a "dangerously low” body temperature.

    So drinking alcohol is not the go-to method for feeling warm - it may help at the moment but proceed with caution in the winters as the IMD warns! However, drinking moderately does not significantly change your body temperature.

    Drinking in the summers is also not always safe, as excess drinking can cause dehydration and affect your internal organs.

    Expand
  3. 3. How Does Alcohol Lower Your Core Temperature?

    So how exactly does alcohol work to reduce our body’s temperature?

    Alcohol is a vasodilator, which means it causes your blood vessels to expand or dilate which results in rapid heat loss from the surface of your skin. So after you drink it, there is an increase of blood vessels brought up to the surface of your skin, which makes you feel warm and look flushed.

    Have you noticed how you feel warm and even start to sweat when you drink - even if your environment is cold? That’s your body’s response to your reduced body temperature. This is dangerous because it means that you don’t know if you are cold, meaning your body cannot detect your environment and isn't able to protect you naturally from the cold and hypothermia.

    Expand
  4. 4. So Should We Skip The Drinks This Winter?

    What’s the relationship between alcohol and the cold weather? 
    What’s the relationship between alcohol and the cold weather? 
    (Photo: iStock)

    The IMD is warning of severe cold spells across northern India. But should you ditch the whiskey or rum and hot water entirely? No, because experts say that the lowering of our body temperatures happens usually in heavy drinking. For moderate drinking, we may experience some symptoms like the warmth and flush, but our core temperature will not be significantly affected.

    The bottom line? Enjoy your whiskey in the winters - but in moderation!

    Expand
  5. 5. How To Protect Yourself in the Cold?

    Winter is usually the sickest time of the year - and this year flu season is even more worrisome as our mind jumps to COVID at the first sneeze.

    So how to stay healthy and ensure we don’t have to worry? Here are some tips:

    • Increase our intake of foods and vegetables rich in Vitamin C says IMD

    • Moisturise your skin

    • Stay indoors as far as possible

    • Make sure you are up to date on your flu vaccines

    • Practice proper hand hygiene for 20 seconds. Don’t forget the back of your hand and under your fingernails

    • Social distance - which is important in COVID times as well

    • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of minerals and vitamins and lots of green, leafy vegetables

    • Try to have a healthy sleeping routine

    • Manage stress as it can affect your immune system

    • And of course, restrict excess alcohol

    (Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

    Expand

What Did IMD Say Exactly?

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning advising North Indian residents to protect themselves from the cold by avoiding alcohol.

As per IMD predictions, parts of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan are to see severe cold wave conditions from December 29 onward.

The IMD’s impact-based advisory stated that the adverse weather could cause an increase in chances of getting the flu or colds or nosebleeds or even frostbite in extreme conditions.

To help us avoid these health risks, the IMD shared a list of recommendations like eating foods with vitamin C, drinking warm water and hot beverages, staying indoors and also, avoiding alcohol as it “reduces your body temperature.”

Can Alcohol Harm You in the Winter-Time?

Usually as the weather dips and we get cozy, reaching out to a warm alcoholic drink seems like the way to go. But experts disagree.

Alcohol might make you feel warmer at the moment, but it actually reduces your body temperature and makes you more susceptible to illnesses by reducing your immunity levels. If you notice, your natural shivering response is also reduced if you’ve had alcohol - this means that you often don’t notice how cold it is and don't adequately protect yourself.

According to WebMD, alcohol leaves you dehydrated and makes any congestion worse as well.

As per this study conducted in the Journal of Wilderness Medicine, alcohol can reduce your body’s core temperature and can up the chances of hypothermia when exposed to the cold. MayoClinic describes hypothermia as a “medical emergency,” where your body loses heat faster than it can produce it which causes a "dangerously low” body temperature.

So drinking alcohol is not the go-to method for feeling warm - it may help at the moment but proceed with caution in the winters as the IMD warns! However, drinking moderately does not significantly change your body temperature.

Drinking in the summers is also not always safe, as excess drinking can cause dehydration and affect your internal organs.

How Does Alcohol Lower Your Core Temperature?

So how exactly does alcohol work to reduce our body’s temperature?

Alcohol is a vasodilator, which means it causes your blood vessels to expand or dilate which results in rapid heat loss from the surface of your skin. So after you drink it, there is an increase of blood vessels brought up to the surface of your skin, which makes you feel warm and look flushed.

Have you noticed how you feel warm and even start to sweat when you drink - even if your environment is cold? That’s your body’s response to your reduced body temperature. This is dangerous because it means that you don’t know if you are cold, meaning your body cannot detect your environment and isn't able to protect you naturally from the cold and hypothermia.

So Should We Skip The Drinks This Winter?

What’s the relationship between alcohol and the cold weather? 
What’s the relationship between alcohol and the cold weather? 
(Photo: iStock)

The IMD is warning of severe cold spells across northern India. But should you ditch the whiskey or rum and hot water entirely? No, because experts say that the lowering of our body temperatures happens usually in heavy drinking. For moderate drinking, we may experience some symptoms like the warmth and flush, but our core temperature will not be significantly affected.

The bottom line? Enjoy your whiskey in the winters - but in moderation!

How To Protect Yourself in the Cold?

Winter is usually the sickest time of the year - and this year flu season is even more worrisome as our mind jumps to COVID at the first sneeze.

So how to stay healthy and ensure we don’t have to worry? Here are some tips:

  • Increase our intake of foods and vegetables rich in Vitamin C says IMD

  • Moisturise your skin

  • Stay indoors as far as possible

  • Make sure you are up to date on your flu vaccines

  • Practice proper hand hygiene for 20 seconds. Don’t forget the back of your hand and under your fingernails

  • Social distance - which is important in COVID times as well

  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of minerals and vitamins and lots of green, leafy vegetables

  • Try to have a healthy sleeping routine

  • Manage stress as it can affect your immune system

  • And of course, restrict excess alcohol

(Subscribe to FIT on Telegram)

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