Most people will tell you they know that drinking water is important for good health. After all, health and nutrition experts have been saying this for the longest time. Yet, despite it being common knowledge how good water is for you, many people simply don’t drink enough. Here are 10 things that can happen when you don’t drink enough water.
You’ve probably heard it already many times: “Drink plenty of water if you want to stay healthy”. No question about it, keeping well-hydrated is one of the most important things that you can do for good health. After all, our body is made up of about 70% water, which is essential for all our cells, organs, and tissues to regulate temperature and maintain healthy bodily functions. Because we lose water when we sweat, urinate, and breathe, it is important that we always rehydrate by drinking fluids.
Now, here is the problem. Despite it not being a secret that we need to drink plenty of H₂O on a daily basis (about 9–12 cups according to the Mayo Clinic), many of us don’t. And if we do not drink enough, we damage our body and increase the risk for disease.
If we don’t get enough fluids from drinking or eating, this can be a major catalyst for all kinds of problems, physically and mentally. Here are just some of the things that can happen when you don’t drink enough water.
It’s not uncommon for some people to feel hungry even if they have recently eaten. Especially for those folks who want to watch their calorie intake, this isn’t exactly helpful. What’s happening is that they may confuse hunger with dehydration. So, the next time your stomach is growling, don’t head to the kitchen for a snack just yet, but instead drink a tall glass of water.
Nutrition and health experts recommend that you drink a glass of water about 20 minutes before you eat. This can greatly help you reduce unnecessary feelings of hunger, and it makes you feel fuller with less food. As a result, this simple trick can help you lose some weight. Likewise, it is much healthier to drink water over sugary drinks. Even so-called “sports drinks” often contain tons of sugar and other additives, which makes plain water a much better alternative!
An easy way to tell whether you’re getting enough fluids is if your urine is a pale yellow or almost clear. This usually means that you’re properly hydrated. If you’re dehydrated because you’re not drinking enough, your pee will be less diluted and will have a darker colour. This means that any time you go to the bathroom, you can do this very simple check to see whether you should drink some more. Easy, isn’t it?
Our body is in large part made of water, and so is what comes out of it. Water keeps our stool soft and is essential for good digestion and regularity. Water helps push things out of the digestive tract when we go to the bathroom. If we don’t drink enough, the stool in our bowels will become drier and more compact, and at some point, we may not be able to pass a bowel movement: this is when we become constipated.
So, if you have bathroom problems and you can’t “go” if you want, drink a glass of water or two. Many times this will help you if you’re constipated.
You may think that you just have a “sweet tooth”, which is the reason why you can’t resist that bar of chocolate or those sugary cookies that your granny baked for Christmas. A lot of times however, dehydration can be a reason for these cravings, especially for sweets.
Health experts even have an explanation for what is happening there. If you don’t get enough fluids, your liver may have troubles breaking down glycogen into sugar for the bloodstream. And if this happens, you will have a particularly strong craving for sweet foods. If you drink plenty, you can keep these cravings in check!
Not drinking enough water can also be a reason that you’re getting headaches. These headaches may only be mild, but in some cases they can also be quite nasty. What happens is that the fluid loss in our body can make the brain shrink just a tiny bit, so it pulls slightly away from the skull. And this can lead to unpleasant headaches. So, the next time you have a headache or want to prevent one from coming on, make sure that you’re drinking water. Many times, this can make your headache go away in no time.
Exactly how and why not drinking enough water can lead to muscle cramps is still debated among nutrition and health experts. Some say that not getting enough water affects blood circulation in the muscles, which leads to cramping. Then again, there are some studies that don’t support this theory. But for us, the exact reason why this occurs doesn’t really matter; what’s important is that drinking water does prevent them. Especially when you’re exercising, make sure to stay well-hydrated so you can keep your muscles from cramping.
Tip: There is no need for fancy sports drinks that are often not even healthy at all. But if you think you need an extra boost of electrolytes, you can just add a sprinkle of salt, sugar, lemon juice, and lime to your water.
Obviously, good oral hygiene is one thing that you should stick to if you don’t want to turn off your friends and co-workers with stinky breath. But did you know that not drinking enough water can be another cause for bad breath? If you drink plenty of water, it will support the production of saliva in your mouth. The saliva will naturally clear your mouth of bacteria that are often the cause for bad breath. So, in addition to brushing and flossing, make sure to drink plenty for good oral health.
We are not saying that drinking plenty of water is all you need to do to keep looking young up until old age. But it’s true that drinking water can help you with a more youthful appearance. If you don’t drink enough, the elastic collagen tissues in your skin dry out and crack, leading to an increased appearance of wrinkles. So make sure that you drink plenty, and your skin will stay smooth, soft, and well-hydrated for a youthful appearance.
Although drinking water is essential so that our body can work optimally, drinking is also important for our mental wellbeing. Scientific studies have shown that dehydration can lead to problems with concentration and focus, so that even simple tasks may become difficult. So if you’re studying, reading, or doing any other kind of mental task that requires you to stay focussed, make sure that you drink plenty and often. You may then find that things may go much more smoothly.
If you don’t get enough water, not only will your concentration and focus drop, your entire body may suffer from tension and fatigue and you will feel tired. And these negative symptoms won’t only occur when you’re extremely thirsty; even losing just 1–2% of fluids can result in adverse effects on the body and mind. And the loss of water won’t just make you feel tired and without energy. If you’re feeling exhausted, it may also negatively affect your mood, making you irritated and cranky.
Most of us don’t drink enough water. As we’ve shown above, this can lead to all sorts of health problems. The good thing is that fresh water isn’t normally difficult to come by. After all, it is one of the most abundant resources here on Earth. If you drink plenty of water, and doctors say you should drink 9–12 glasses every day, it will greatly benefit your overall health and fitness.