Do you measure the amount of water you chug to stay hydrated? Interestingly, if you think that this is the right way to measure your hydration levels, Ayurveda has a different take on this. In fact, sipping water just to ensure that you meet the standard limit of 3-4 litres might be bad news.
Happiest Health talks to experts who give us an insight on what ayurveda says about water intake.
‘Let your body decide’
Dr Ghanashyam B. Sharma, Professor from Alva’s Ayurveda medical College, Moodbidri of Karnataka highlights the fact that ayurveda never asks you to keep a measure of how much water you consume in a day. At the same time, he also says that one should let their body decide how much water it requires.
“Your body gives you signal though thirst. All you need to do is listen to your bodily demands and attend those,” adds Dr B. Sharma.
Not everyone needs a fixed dose of water. The requisite varies as per age, seasons, lifestyle (sedentary or active) or underlying medical conditions, if any.
A person whose metabolism is rapid (pitta body type) might require more water, whereas the one with slow or leisurely metabolism (kapha body type) might need less.
Also, during summer one might need an additional supply of water while in winters, the demand will be lesser.
Whether to sip water in between food intake or not
While there are different opinions regarding drinking water in between meals, Dr Hemant Sharma, Ayurvedic Practitioner from Gujarat says that sipping water in between meals helps in easy disintegration of food and aids in digestion.
“When someone drinks water followed by food intake, it leads to weight gain. Ayurveda says that soon after you eat food, first stage of digestion begins. Intake of water at this stage might lead to unorganised assimilation of nutrients leading to overweight or obesity,” says Dr Sharma.
“It is not ideal to drink water before eating food as it lowers the appetite. This habit leads to emaciation”, he adds.
Effect of pre-meal water consumption is evaluated by researchers from Korea’s Jeonju University. They found out that consuming water prior to meal reduces the meal energy intake. They suggest that pre-meal water consumption could be an effective strategy to monitor weight.
Ayurveda also recommends ensuring that quarter part of a meal should have water/ fluids and half should be the proper solid/ semi-solid food while the rest quarter part has to be left free for movement of air.
Warm vs chilled water
Dr B Sharma makes it clear that ayurveda doesn’t promote the use of chilled/ icy water as it can negatively impact digestion. However, cold water is suggested for those with excessive thirst, exhaustion, vomiting, alcoholic intoxication, burning sensation and during summers.
Lukewarm water is suggested for those with indigestion, constipation, health conditions due to phlegm (imbalance in water and earth element) and during winters. It is also considered to be lighter for digestion.
Benefits of drinking adequate water
Centre for Disease control and prevention (CDC) defines daily total water intake as the amount of water consumed from foods, plain water, and other beverages. Your hydration level not only depends on how much water you consume, but also depends on the intake of fruits and vegetables that have high water content. Drinking water remains the easier way to fulfil hydration levels of the body as it has zero calories.
Hydration levels increase the physical performance. Water intake can also impact one’s memory and cognition. Conversely, dehydration can cause disruptions in mood and cognitive behaviour of a person.
Kidneys, that contribute to blood filtration require water for filtration of wastes from bloodstream and excretion takes place through urination. an adequate intake of water helps in the proper excretion of wastes and toxins.
Blood volume, blood pressure, and heart rate are also closely associated with water intake and water output.
Researchers from France found that increasing water intake in those who are habitually low drinkers led to a significant increase in good mood and less fatigue, confusion, and sleep. While reducing the intake in who are habitually high drinkers impacted their mood negatively. They were less calm and reported with lower positive emotions. The study considered baseline HIGH as 2.5 L/day and LOW as 1 L of water/day.
Ayurvedic tips for drinking water
- Start your day with water: Water is advised as the first thing to be consumed post morning rituals before sunrise. Approximately 640 ml of water is to be consumed in the empty stomach. This helps to flush out the toxins.
- Drink whenever you are thirsty: Ayurveda considers thirst as one of the non-suppressible urges. If you feel thirsty, consume water immediately.
- Never gulp water at once: Gulping down a bottle of water at once pushes you to the risk of developing indigestion/ loss of appetite.
- Avoid cold/ chilled water: Ayurveda strongly contraindicates drinking chilled water as it hampers the digestive fire.
- Drink water as per seasons: The water intake should be planned based on the seasons as in summer, the body needs more amount of water while in winters the requirement is less.