Here’s What Actually Happens To Your Body When You Don’t Drink Enough Water

effects of dehydration on your body

You (hopefully) already know how important it is to drink water on a regular basis. Water makes up about two-thirds of our bodies and is essential for our health, both physically and mentally, maybe even emotionally, if you’re me. Studies have found that drinking enough water can help fight fatigue, improve your mood, flush out waste (thus helping with digestive issues), help you think clearly, and can even reduce the risks of certain types of cancer, like bladder cancer. These don’t even cover all of the health benefits drinking enough water provides.

However, research has consistently found that many people aren’t drinking enough of the stuff. What actually happens to your body when you don’t drink enough water isn’t fun.

Hearing about the negative effects of dehydration might do the trick, but even so, many people complain about how they just don’t enjoy the taste of water. If that’s the case, there are plenty of options — add fruit to your water, or if you don’t have time to do that, try natural fruit-infused water, like hint water. It tastes delicious and offers all of the hydration that you need (not to mention it’s a lot easier than infusing your own water).

If you’re still not convinced, check out what goes on in your body when you’re even mildly dehydrated:

1. You might have difficulty remembering things.

Since dehydration affects the way your mind works, it makes sense that it affects your memory. Studies have found that even mild dehydration can affect short-term memory in people of all ages. In one study, researchers found a strong link between hydration status and memory skills by testing a group of women. The most dehydrated subjects performed the worst on the tests.

2. You may feel like you’re in a bad mood.

If you feel like you’re in a bad mood for no real reason, it could be because you haven’t been drinking enough water. Studies have found that dehydration can cause young women to be in a terrible mood. Actually, multiple studies have found that to be true. Harris Lieberman, a research psychologist, told UConn Today, “Even mild dehydration that can occur during the course of our ordinary daily activities can degrade how we are feeling — especially for women, who appear to be more susceptible to the adverse effects of low levels of hydration than men.”

3. Your cognition and performance are negatively affected.

Research has found, more than once, that water can influence cognition. One study found that a lack of water made cognitive tasks more difficult for young women. Another study found that driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk. The research found that even mildly dehydrated drivers made as many errors as people with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.008%.

4. You get constipated.

Proper hydration is absolutely essential for a healthy digestive tract, which starts with the ability to go to the bathroom regularly. If you’re not drinking enough water, you’re not going to be able to do that. Research has found that being even mildly dehydrated is a common reason for constipation and usually, increasing your water intake will help with the issue. Not drinking enough water could also make going number two more painful. Isabel Smith, founder of Isabel Smith Nutrition, told Redbook, “Water helps to push things through the digestive tract and helps with the formation of stools and evacuation of the bowels, so not getting enough water can cause your poop to be dry and hard to pass.” Ouch.

5. Your muscles feel cramped.

Experts have found that dehydration can be one of the causes of muscle cramps, which can be pretty painful. Leslie Bonci, founder of Active Eating Advice, told Redbook, “Water keeps the balance of sodium and potassium to help regulate fluid within and out of the cells. Dehydration can disrupt this balance and may contribute to muscle cramping.”

6. You feel exhausted and zapped of energy.

When your body needs more water, you’re likely going to feel completely exhausted. The same study that found that dehydration can cause a bad mood and difficulty thinking also found that it causes fatigue. This is one of the most common signs of dehydration, especially for younger women. If you’re feeling totally lethargic and you can’t really think of a reason why, try having a few glasses of fruit-infused water like hint (it’s pretty much the best water hack, let’s be real)  — give yourself a little time, and you’ll probably start feeling more awake. The company even makes caffeinated water, so you can get your hydration on AND feel more energized.

7. You get bad headaches, constantly.

Experiencing a massive headache that won’t go away even when you take pain medication? Try drinking some water instead. Research has found that dehydration can lead to headaches. Studies have found that not drinking enough water can be a trigger for migraines. And if you do have a headache, drinking water may actually help get rid of the pain. So not only can water be the reason behind your headache, but drinking more of it can help prevent them.

8. You feel hungry, even if you aren’t.

One common sign of dehydration is mistaking your body’s need for water as hunger. Dehydration can give your body mixed signals, making you believe you need to eat when, really, you just need water! According to MSN, one study from 2010 found that people who drank water before each meal consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories while eating.

9. You experience increased sensitivity to pain.

Research has found a link between hydration and pain perception. One study looked at a group of people and found that the more the participants were dehydrated, the more intensely they felt pain. There were also heart rate and blood pressure monitors, which showed that their brain blood flow response was reduced due to hyperventilation. The researchers believe that pain killers and cognitive behavioral therapy could be less effective in dehydrated patients.

While researchers now say you don’t need to follow the popular idea of drinking eight glasses of water a day, you do need to keep in mind how much of it you’re getting. If you feel thirsty, drink a glass of water, or a bottle of fruit-infused water, and sip on it throughout the day. You’ll thank yourself later!

Before you leave, don’t forget Hint is giving SoYummy readers 30% off your order of Hint water by using this special link.

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