6 Signs You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

Article posted in: Lifestyle
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You know, you know: You should drink more water. But do you actually know why?

Here’s why: Essentially every system in your body requires water to function properly. Water flushes out toxins and waste, and transports nutrients. Plus, more than half your body (55 to 60 percent) is composed of it. When that amount drops by as little as 1.5 percent below your optimal level, you become mildly dehydrated, your energy level decreases and your metabolism slows. To stay hydrated, you should replenish your fluids throughout the day. According to The Institute of Medicine, women need about nine cups of fluids daily, men about 13. Plain water is the best way to rehydrate—it’s quickly absorbed and calorie-free. Ice water may feel refreshing, but it will sit in your stomach until it warms up so when you need to rehydrate in a hurry, go with fluids that are closer to room temperature.

In addition to knowing how much liquid you should be consuming every day, it’s important to be able to identify signs that you may be approaching dehydration. Here are six indicators (that have nothing to do with being thirsty) that you’re running low on liquids:

1. You’re Hungry
The signals your brain sends when you need calories and when you need fluids originate in the same place, and can be mistaken for each other. When you’re dehydrated, your liver holds on to its glycogen reserves, an essential source of energy for you. Your body begins to crave food when sufficient glycogen isn’t available to burn.

2. You’re Exhausted
As your metabolism slows, your body begins to conserve its energy, leaving you feeling tired. Mild dehydration also reduces the volume of blood in your body, forcing your heart to work harder to pump oxygen and nutrients to all of your cells. When your heart is working less efficiently, you may feel exhausted even though you haven’t exerted yourself very much.

3. Your Head is Pounding
The reduced volume of blood caused by mild dehydration also means less oxygen reaches your brain with each beat of your heart. In response, the blood vessels in your brain dilate to bring in more oxygen. Dilated blood vessels may lead to a headache.

4. You’ve Got Bad Breath
Your saliva has antibacterial properties which prevent nasty microbes that are the source of bad breath from setting up residence in your mouth. Dehydration reduces the volume of saliva you produce, often resulting in unpleasant odors in your mouth.

5. Your Urine is Dark
The most visible sign of mild dehydration is evident when you go to the bathroom. Pale yellow urine indicates that you are well-hydrated. As your body’s fluid levels decrease, the color becomes noticeably darker, a sign that you need a drink.

6. You’re Having Trouble “Going”
Your digestive tract relies on fluids to help move waste through the system. If you’re feeling stopped up, not drinking enough water may be the problem.