by Joe Martino: There’s a lot of talk about water these days, and ultimately the question everyone wants answered is…

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how much do you need? The truth is, that number depends entirely on the person asking — their lifestyle, activity levels, eating habits, and even surrounding climate will affect their needs. The best way to figure out what you need is to pay attention to your body’s many signals.

Dehydration actually sets in before you start feeling thirsty, and is often indicated by, oddly enough, feeling slightly hungry. If you find yourself feeling like a snack, try having a glass of water first, and see what happens. Sipping water throughout the day can also help curb dehydration and is one of the simplest ways to deal with it. For people who struggle in the mornings, having a couple of glasses of water right when you wake up will help boost your blood pressure to normal levels. It will also help clean out your system and get you to the bathroom quickly.

Luckily, our bodies come equipped with an attentive water detection system called thirstOnce your body has lost between 1-2% of its total water content, it will signal its needs by making you feel thirsty.

A simple way to assess your water needs is to look at the colour of your urine. Dark urine often indicates your kidneys are retaining fluid to maintain normal body functions, which means you need to drink up. However, this isn’t to be confused with darker urine caused by taking certain supplements, such as multivitamins.

If you are dehydrated, you will also likely urinate less often. According to Dr. Mercola, a healthy person urinates about seven to eight times per day, which makes monitoring your urination frequency each day an important assessment tool.