Do you know how much water you are really supposed to drink? Is it 8 cups per day? Or 12 cups? Are you consuming too little or too much? We promise we’ll get to that, but first, let us tell you why it is important to drink plenty of water and what symptoms are associated with a lack of adequate water consumption.

Your body consists of more than 70 percent water, which is what helps your brain and kidneys to function properly. Water also helps with digestion, supports muscle function, boosts your metabolism and your immune system. Our bodies have a built-in mechanism that tells us when we need to drink water – the feeling of being thirsty. Unfortunately, many people have become numb to the sensation, and an alarming two out of three individuals suffer from some form of dehydration.

If you are among the majority and have a water deficit, here are six other less-obvious signals that may be an indication your body is parched and it’s time to fill up that water bottle:

  1. Dry skin, eyes, and mouth. Our bodies need water to hydrate our skin, lubricate our mouths, and help us see clearly. It is essential we replenish the fluids and electrolytes we loose throughout the day by drinking plenty of water.
  1. Feelings of being disoriented.  Confusion, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating are all signs you may be dehydrated. Lack of water can slacken blood flow; depriving our brains of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at peak capacity.
  1. Frequent headaches. Our brains are 80% water. When you’re dehydrated, your brain tissue loses water, causing brain shrinkage and pain surrounding the brain.  Dehydration also lowers blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which leads to increased swelling and inflammation. This, in turn, gives you a headache.
  1. Muscle cramps and joint pain. Water is the body’s natural lubricant and cooling system. Without it, your muscles will overheat and seize up and your joints will start to grind. A constant supply of hydration will keep you body in good working order.
  1. Lack of energy. The body stores up energy by decreasing blood circulation when you’re dehydrated. Blood circulation is important because it delivers oxygen to the muscles, and if our blood flow isn’t circulating properly, our energy level decreases and we become lethargic.
  1. You stay sick longer. Drinking water allows your body to continuously flush out toxins. Your organs work to filter out certain waste produces like a machine, but if you don’t fuel the machine with water, it cannot work properly.

Water is the most essential and forgotten nutrient. While it may not be ideal, you can last quite some time without food. However, you can only survive days without water. Keeping in mind that everyone’s fluid needs are different, based on sweat rates, environmental temperatures, clothing, humidity, etc., here are a few tips on how to stay hydrated:

  1. If you’re thirsty…drink water. Coffee, soda, and/or juice are not substitutes for water.  And certainly avoid store bought juices.
  2. If you decide to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two, try to consume one glass of water for each drink you have.
  3. If your urine is dark, smelly, or cloudy…drink water.
  4. Drink water before, during and after low-to-moderate activity.
  5. Make carrying water with you a habit. If you’re at work, keep a bottle on your desk, refilling often.
  6. Add fluid-filled foods to your diet, such as watermelon, cucumbers, celery, lettuce, and strawberries, just to name a few.
  7. On a normal day, with minimum to no activities, we recommend you drink half your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should drink 65 ounces of water per day.

Depriving yourself of the world’s most natural resource, will continuously damage your body. The simple steps list above will help keep you hydrated, however, it is important to remain mindful of dehydration symptoms we mentioned earlier.

Related: 8 Simple Steps to Help You Avoid Dehydration this Summer