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I’m sure we all have heard the “drink eight glasses of water a day” line. While this doesn’t sound like much, if you actually try it and finish the entire glass, it’s a lot more difficult to do than it sounds. And in all actuality, we need more than that in a day to keep our bodies functioning at their best.

Water serves as a natural medicine for our bodies. It has so many functions, yet it’s easy to not drink it for a while and not notice the effects. Although you may not be able to tell immediately what is happening to your body, going just a day without water can take a toll on your body. Water serves as a way to get rid of waste, keep your body temperature at the proper level, cushion your joints and protect tissue around your muscles. Going a day without water can affect all of these things and more, leaving your bones, muscles and joints feeling the repercussions.

“How much water should I drink per day?” To put it simply, there is no direct answer. The amount depends on you as an individual and will vary from person to person. You must take into account the amount of calories you intake, the amount of exercise you perform in a day, your height, weight, age, gender and more. According to a study done by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the average man should intake about 15.5 cups (or 3.7 liters) daily and the average woman should intake 11.5 cups (or 2.7 liters) daily. A portion of this amount comes from the nutrients you extract from food, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. But about 80% of that number should be brought in by drinking water due to its ability to provide exactly what your body needs.

For some, drinking plain water can be really tough. They say water has “no taste” or that drinking water is “boring.” With this in mind, there are other resources you can get your nutrients from. For example, certain fruits and vegetables hold the same vitamins and minerals due to their high volumes of water. Celery is a great example. Although you would have to eat a lot of celery to get your full water intake for the day, it’s a great addition to your diet. In addition, many think that drinking sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, is a healthy substitute for water. Yes, they do contain nutrients that is good for your body, but only if your body is exerting a certain amount of power. If you are not training, exercising, or doing some sort of athletic activity on a daily basis, these drinks should not be a substitute for water because they aren’t the fluids your body needs. The sugar in them will throw your body for a loop if you do not balance it with water.

Although drinking water can be difficult at times, it is important to remember how vital it is for our bodies. If you have a hard time drinking water throughout the day, try adding a splash of juice or pieces of fruit like lemons and oranges. It’s a good start and it will help you and your body get adjusted to drinking the right amount of water that you need to remain healthy and balanced.