i'm not thirsty.
But, actually, you probably are thirsty. Most people are. They just aren't aware that "thirst" manifests as many other symptoms apart from a sensation of thirst.
"You're not sick; you're thirsty. Don't treat thirst with medication." Dr. F. Batmanghelidj
Everyone knows that we are basically made of water. And when our bodies are dehydrated, the processes within our system don't work as well as they can. It is likely that we simply misunderstand just how much water our bodies are asking for, and how much they need in order to perform optimally. Similarly, other types of health and nutrition experts believe that even on a diet full of tons of raw produce, low salt, low fat, that we need to be drinking at least 1/2 gallon of plain water per day. And they add that when a person exercises, consumes coffee, tea, high sodium foods, alcohol, highly processed items, high protein or high fat foods, much more water is needed. Many claim that for every cup of coffee, 2 cups of water are needed, and for every alcoholic drink, 4 glasses of water are needed, just to counteract the dehydration caused by these beverages.
What happens when we don't drink enough water? Well, obviously, it leads to dehydration. "But I'm not thirsty.", you say. Of course not! Lack of thirst is the number one symptom of chronic dehydration. We are not thirsty because our bodies have adapted to take the path of least resistance. When we are chronically dehydrated, we have lost the sensation of thirst because we stopped responding to the signals our body was sending. It said, over and over, "I'm thirsty for water.", and if we respond to that thirst signal enough times by eating food, or drinking soda, or by just ignoring it, the body sort of gives up and moves on to trying to fix something else in hopes that we will act appropriately. Our bodies learn what to spend energy on and what to ignore, based on how we interpret and respond to the signals.
When we are chronically dehydrated and eat processed food, or "unhealthy" food, or consume a lot of alcohol, that's a recipe for bloating and fat retention. So many of the things we eat and absorb in every day life are toxic (whether minimally or in an extreme way) and our cells need to protect themselves from the toxins. The way our cells protect themselves is by diluting the toxins with fat and water. The more toxic food you consume, the more dilution you need. The more dilution you need, the more water and fat is stored, indefinitely, until you can flush those cells with sufficient water. If your body is dehydrated and toxic, it will hold on to any and all water that comes in, which is often what causes bloating, especially in the extremities and internal organs.
So.... because of all of this, metabolism (sum of all of our body's biological processes) is thrown off course, slowed, confused, unable to function properly, etc.
Here are a few symptoms of dehydration. The list could be nearly indefinite, though:
weight gain/difficulty losing fat
And you can try to make your water more interesting, if you're looking for a way to get inspired to start your gallon-a-day! Get a SodaStream to carbonate your water (yes, this is totally fine), add a squeeze of lemon or lime, buy a fancy water bottle, create a group challenge, etc.
For a great book on the wonders of water, check out Dr. Batmanghelidj's work, or www.watercure.com.
For more information on how hydration and metabolism work together, see my blog post entitled, "exposing metabolism".