We’ve all heard that it’s important to drink water during the day, but you may not know that not drinking enough water can actually have a big impact on your health.
“Our bodies are made up of 70 percent water, and we need enough water to maintain our cognitive function and our heart function,” says Dr. Kelsie Lazzell, a functional medicine doctor of chiropractic and naturopathy at the Center for Holistic Medicine. And, Lazzell adds, water plays a crucial role in flushing out toxins, keeping our skin healthy and more.
Unfortunately, many people don’t get the amount of water that they need each day, leaving them chronically dehydrated.
Lazzell recommends that people drink half their body weight of water in ounces each day. That means if you weigh 120 pounds, you should drink 60 oz. of water a day, or about 7.5 cups. And if you drink caffeine, which dehydrates you even more, Lazzell says you need to drink an extra two cups of water for each cup of caffeine that you drink.
However, it is possible to become over hydrated, so Dr. Jerry Gore, MD, clinical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine says it’s important not to exceed your recommended amount of liquid in a day. “We have a test for vitamins and minerals called the Spectracell Microbiology blood test. Sometimes it will show that people are actually eliminating out their vitamins and minerals through the urine either from too much coffee, tea, or actually over hydrating, causing them to urinate every couple of hours. This is a problem because then even though they’re very hydrated, they’re actually deficient in some vitamins and minerals,” he says. “I believe a person has to follow their body’s intuition somewhat and drink moderately throughout the day.”
Here are some of the surprising health effects that can come from not drinking enough water.
- You May Feel Tired and Sluggish
If you feel tired or not very mentally sharp, it may be a signal that your body needs more water. Lazzell explains that water acts as the conduit for the electrical activity in your brain, and when we don’t have enough, we often feel tired and sluggish. So the next time you’re feeling tired, instead of reaching for a cup of coffee or some sugar for a pick-me-up, try drinking some water instead.
- You May Eat More
One of the most surprising side effects of chronic dehydration is that you may consume more calories than you need to. That’s because often our body gives out hunger cues when we’re really just thirsty. “We should only feel hungry every 12 to 15 hours, so if you get hungry after three hours, try drinking a big glass of water, because you might just be thirsty,” Lazzell explains. And remember — juices and soda have calories, but water doesn’t!
- You May Get a Headache
Headaches are a common symptom of dehydration. This is because when there isn’t enough fluid in your brain, your brain can contract, causing pain when it pulls away from your skull.
- Your Blood Pressure May Drop
Did you know that your blood is made up of about 90% water? When you’re dehydrated, your blood volume can go down, causing your blood pressure to drop, which can make it harder for blood to reach all of your organs and depriving them of the oxygen and nutrients they need.
- You May Retain Toxins
Your body’s main way of flushing toxins out of your body is through your stool, urine and sweat —all three of which may be affected if you aren’t drinking enough water. When you’re dehydrated, you may urinate less frequently and have more constipation, which causes toxins to build up in your body and makes your organs unable to function at peak capacity. Lazzell says if you’re not urinating every three hours, you probably need to be drinking more water.
- You May Have Dry Skin
Our skin is one of the biggest ways that our body loses water, and people who are chronically dehydrated often suffer from dry or cracked skin, especially in the winter when the air has less humidity.
Other Water Drinking Tips:
- Add Salt
Lazzell says one tip she gives to all of her patients is to add a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt to each glass of water. She says the salt will help you retain fluids better, so you urinate less frequently.
- Drink Filtered Water
Lazzell also recommends that people invest in a good water filter to remove any harmful toxins from their water. “If you’re drinking unfiltered water, you’re bringing in a lot of toxins like endocrine disruptors, heavy metals, etc. that might be burdening your system, which may already be overly burdened trying to remove toxins from your body,” Lazzell says. She says this is especially important for women who are dealing with fertility issues, who may be affected by toxins that interfere with their hormone levels. Lazzell recommends a Berkey water filter or a reverse osmosis filter for best results.