March 26, 2021
Last Updated:
March 29, 2021

What Happens If You Don't Drink Enough Water: Seven Signs

Did you know our bodies are 60% water? The human body relies on water to function properly, and our main organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, and even our skin, are made up of mostly water. It is crucial we drink water to stay properly hydrated and keep our bodies functioning. When we do not get enough water, dehydration sets in. But your body will start giving you signs before this happens, so don’t ignore them!

According to the Cleveland Clinic, on average, men should drink 3.7 liters (about 15.5 cups) and women should drink 2.7 liters (about 11.5 cups) of water per day. These amounts include water, food, and other beverages, and about 20% of your daily fluid intake comes from food.

Signs of dehydration

1. Headaches

Have you ever gotten a headache you couldn’t explain? That could be a sign from your body that you’re not getting enough water. The brain actually experiences fluid loss. This makes the brain contract, causing pressure, and gives us a headache. So next time you feel a headache coming on, grab a glass of water and you may be surprised how it stops your headache in its tracks.

2. Anxiety and mood swings

Crankiness can set in when we are mildly dehydrated. When you feel moody, ask yourself, “Did I have enough water today?” You will be surprised how the lack of water in your day can have an effect on your mental health. Studies have shown a correlation between dehydration and feelings of depression, confusion, and anxiety.

3. Weight gain

Weight gain can occur because of a lack of water intake. When you’re dehydrated, your body will kick into “survival mode,” and hold onto any water it already has. Your body isn’t sure when it will be getting more water, so it slows down normal processes, like digestion, in order to conserve energy. Slowed digestion can lead to a poorly performing metabolism, which in turn leads to weight gain.

Make sure to grab a glass of water before a snack or meal. Our body will tell us we are hungry when in reality we just need more water. Drink some water first and see if you are still hungry afterward – especially if you ate recently! You will be surprised how much your hunger pangs happen because you are thirsty.

4. Fatigue

If you’re feeling sluggish, it may be from dehydration. Being dehydrated can cause your blood pressure to drop, which reduces blood flow to the brain; this is why tiredness can set in. Hydrate to be as energetic as possible.

5. Bowel interruptions and cramps

Our water intake levels can have a major effect on our bowel movements. If you’re having trouble using the restroom and not able to go like you should, it may be a sign of dehydration. This is an example of our bodies speaking to us. Another sign our bodies will sometimes give us is cramping. Cramping can range from an uneasy feeling to being incredibly painful. Next time you are having trouble or experiencing cramps, try having a glass (or two!) of water.

Speaking of using the restroom, you should also consider how much you have to use the restroom in a given day. The average adult should be going around 6–8 times a day.

6. Dry skin

When you feel like your skin is dry and more wrinkles or flaking are visible than usual, this may be a sign of dehydration. Your skin is the body’s largest organ, and all organs need water for peak performance. Keeping yourself hydrated will keep your skin hydrated and can reduce dry and flaky patches.

7. Dizziness

Dizziness is a common sign of dehydration. Dehydration can decrease your blood pressure, which can cause a lack of oxygen to the brain and cause dizziness.

The bottom line

Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to be kind to your body and keep all systems working as they should. If you find it difficult to drink the recommended number of glasses per day, try these easy ways to drink more water.

Looking for more ways to promote wellness in your life? IIN’s Health Coach Training Program takes a holistic, 360-degree approach to wellness. During the program, you’ll learn from experts on functional medicine, macronutrients, micronutrients, and whole-body wellness. Check out our Curriculum Guide to learn more.

Author Biography
Kristie Peltier
IIN Content Writer

Kristie Peltier is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and loving mother of two. She became a Health Coach to fulfill her desire to work with individuals to improve their health and family lives.

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