Stop and think for a second: Are you dehydrated right now? Are you sure? According to the Institute of Medicine, 75 percent of Americans live with a condition called chronic dehydration. This means that even though you’re drinking fluids throughout the day, your body still isn’t getting the amount it needs to thrive. In fact, chronic dehydration is so common that our bodies get used to it. That’s why you may not feel thirsty, even when your cells are craving some much-needed H2O.

People with diabetes are especially prone to daily dehydration. As glucose builds up in the bloodstream, your kidneys are forced to work extra hard to filter out the excess sugar. If they cannot keep up, that sugar is flushed out of your system through urine. High blood sugar can also cause your body to pull fluids from important tissues, such as the lenses of your eyes, muscle tissue, and brain tissue.

If left untreated, everyday dehydration can take a pretty serious toll on your blood glucose levels. When your body is lacking fluids, it creates a hormone called vasopressin, which causes your kidneys to retain as much fluid as possible. By keeping in those liquids, your kidneys are also hoarding unwanted glucose. On top of that, high levels of vasopressin in your bloodstream can also cause the liver to produce additional blood sugar. Over time, this can lead to consequences like insulin resistance and chronic hyperglycemia.

The good news is that dehydration is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest health problems to overcome: Just drink more water! Most people are familiar with the 8×8 rule–everyone should drink eight ounces of water, eight times a day. However, experts at the Mayo Clinic say it isn’t so simple. The amount of water your body needs depends on a variety of factors including age, gender, stress levels, the amount of activity you do each day, and more. While most physicians now recommend 13 cups of water a day for men and 9 cups for women, it’s up to you and your doctor to decide what’s best for your body.

Having a hard time guzzling down all that plain H2O? We understand. Check out our recipe roundup for nine delicious–and healthy–flavored waters to give your drink some extra zing. Water will always be the best choice, but other clear beverages like juice and sports drinks can also keep you hydrated. But remember: These drinks come with a hefty dose of calories and sugar.

Interested in seeing how daily dehydration is affecting your blood sugar levels? Start tracking your sugars with a free online blood sugar log from My Diabetes Home. Click here to get started!

Photo courtesy of Kenny Louie on Flickr