We all know that water is essential for life to survive; it’s why it was such a big deal with water was finally discovered on Mars. Even so, though, many of us aren’t familiar with what happens to your body when you’re dehydrated — which is where this infographic from lifestyle blog Fix comes into play. It details exactly what your body goes through when you don’t get enough water, and you guys? It’s a little horrifying. If this won’t convince you to make sure you’re drinking enough water, I’m not sure anything will.
First things first: What exactly is dehydration, anyway? When we talk about getting enough water, what does “enough” actually mean? Well, according to the Mayo Clinic, dehydration is what happens when you either “use or lose more fluid than you take in.” Without those fluids, your body can’t carry out its normal functions, which can result in everything from feeling kind of fuzzy in the brain to, y’know, death. For the curious, the adult human body is made up of about 60 percent water; mild dehydration is typically defined by a loss of 1.5 percent of your body weight, while severe dehydration is pretty much anything greater than that.
While recent studies have discovered that you may not need to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day to stay hydrated, it’s still recommended that adults drink between 30 and 50 ounces of the stuff daily. If you don’t, here are just a few of the weird things that will happen to your body; scroll down to see the full infographic for more.
1. You Start Craving Sweets
Dehydration often masquerades as hunger, so when you’re craving sugar, you might actually be craving water. Why? Speaking with CNN, Amy Goodson, RD, noted, “When you exercise in a dehydrated state, you use glycogen (stored carbohydrate) at a faster rate, thus diminishing your stores more quickly.” When you’re done working out, your body will tell you that it needs to replenish your glycogen levels — hence the craving for sweet things.
2. You Get Bad Breath
One of saliva’s functions is to clean your mouth, thereby keeping bad breath at bay. When you’re dehydrated, though, you produce less saliva, which means your mouth doesn’t benefit from the same cleaning power as it does when you’re all stocked up on water — which means you’ll end up with some stinky fumes emitting from your gob, courtesy of all that bacteria your lack of saliva isn’t able to take care. This, by the way, is also largely the culprit of morning breath — when you sleep, you produce less saliva, which turns your mouth into a breeding ground for bacteria.
3. Your Skin Turns Into Clay
Well, not really, but kind of. You know how your skin has the slightly bizarre ability to stretch if you pull it, then snap back into place as if nothing happened? That’s called skin turgor. If you’re dehydrated, skin turgor decreases, which means that if you pinch a section of your skin, it’ll hold its new shape for a few moments before settle back down. Experts call this the skin turgor test, and it’s one of the easiest ways to determine whether or not someone is dehydrated.
4. Your Brain Shrinks
I’m serious — your gray matter actually shrinks when you don’t drink enough water. According to Shape, a study conducted by Harvard Medical School described the phenomenon as similar to what happens to plant leaves when they aren’t watered: The cells in your brain appear to dry out and contract when your body isn’t getting enough hydration. This, on top of the fact that your brain’s general ability to function is impaired by a lack of fluid, and, well… let’s just say your noggin would really appreciate it if you made sure to keep a bottle of water on hand at all times.
Check out more weird things that happen to your body when you don’t drink enough water below — and what to do about it.