woman drinking water from glass

Water is undoubtedly one of the most fundamental components of our existence, both on this planet and for our health. The chemical substance composes approximately 60% of our entire bodies, and is responsible for ensuring that everything from body temperature to waste regulation operates correctly, says Healthline.

And yet, while a lot of us know how important water is to keep us fighting fit, there’s no denying that drinking it all the time can be a bit of a drag. And honestly, it’s pretty easy to forget, no matter how many fancy water bottles your partner has bought you for Christmas in the past. Maybe that’s why almost 80% of Americans claim that they don’t drink enough water daily, according to a survey conducted by Quench (per PR Newswire). While a large proportion of these folks simply attribute it to not being thirsty, it’s important to remember that by the time you’re thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated.

So what happens when you’re not staying on top of your water requirements? We’ve got all the answers you need right here. Grab a glass, and let’s get started.

When you don’t drink enough water, you become dehydrated

dehydrated woman with hand on forehead

It might seem obvious that not drinking enough water daily results in a lack of hydration, but how does dehydration actually work?

Simply put, our bodies are full of water — inside our blood, muscles, and cells — and this water is constantly exiting our bodies throughout the day, when we pee, sweat, or even just breathe (per Medical News Today). The water we drink then replaces this lost fluid, with high-water foods and other fluids also helping to correct our water balance. However, when we don’t drink water, things start to go wrong. As our systems are reliant on adequate water levels to continue functioning, the slightest imbalance can produce unpleasant consequences, as our bodies try to carry on without the fluid levels they need.

While you might assume that thirst is the main sign of dehydration, it’s easier to judge whether you need to drink more water by the color of your pee. In fact, some folks (particularly older adults) may not get thirsty at all when they’re dehydrated. If you’re dehydrated, your urine will generally be a darker color, whereas clear or pale urine is ideal.

Your digestive system can start to struggle

man in white shirt with constipation

Water and your digestive system are intrinsically linked, and a drop in hydration levels can have a big impact on how capably food can move through your system (per WebMD).

Water not only hydrates your intestines, but it also keeps the fluid levels in your food (and subsequent waste) high enough to travel through your body smoothly. When you don’t drink enough water, your body tries to compensate by drawing more and more water from the food it’s trying to digest. This can dry this food out, meaning that it moves through your intestines more slowly, which leads to constipation.

As such, if you find that you’re constantly constipated, drinking more water throughout the day may ease this somewhat. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that dehydration is far from the only cause of constipation, which can be prompted by anything from inactivity to pregnancy (per the NHS). Also, remember that not all fluids will help you out on the constipation front. Drinking alcohol, for example, may have a counterproductive effect, as it can increase dehydration and make it even harder to pass stools easily.

paper brain in hands
frustrated woman rubbing eyes