Right Way To Drink Water According To Ayurveda
71% of the earth’s surface is covered in water. It is the essential element that sustains life on the planet as living organisms cannot function without it. The adult human body is almost 60% water – all the major organs in the body have a high percentage of water in them – brain 75%, heart 79%, blood 83%, muscles 75%, liver 85%, kidneys 83%, skin 64% (even bones 22%)!
Importance of water for human health
The Ayurvedic method of drinking water
How much water to drink in a day & how to stay hydrated
How to drink water correctly
When to drink water
How much water is too much
Various storage containers and their effects
Ayurvedic tips to drink water
- Always sit down when drinking water. Standing disrupts the balance of fluids in the body and can cause fluid accumulation. Sitting and drinking water is the healthier way as it relaxes the muscles & the nervous system enabling better digestion and also helps the kidneys with the filtration process.
- Always sip your water, do not gulp down a whole glass. Swallowing too much water hinders the absorption process.
- Drink water kept in copper (tamba) and silver (chandi) vessels as they have the ability to balance the doshas by positively charging the water. Copper has antioxidant properties that help improve immunity, whereas silver has the capacity to remove free radicals and ease the digestive process.
- The universal rule of 8 glasses a day is not universal after all – it is not one size fits all. Drink water as per your size, diet, lifestyle, health conditions etc. but ONLY when you feel thirsty.
- How can you know if you are drinking enough water? Well the first indication is your urine, if it is clear and straw colored then you are drinking enough water. If it looks yellow and dark then you need to drink more water. Also, check your lips – if they are dry, cracked or chapped, then the indication is that you need more water.
- Drinking lemon water helps to cleanse the body, helps digestion, reduces inflammation, helps weight loss, improves complexion, prevents bad breath, improves immunity.
Drink water enriched with herbs such as vavdinga (useful to manage worm infestation, controls vomiting, nausea, indigestion, flatulence and constipation) and shadanga paniya (helps reduce burning sensation and quenches excessive thirst by pacifying pitta dosha)
Methi water has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (soaking fenugreek seeds in water and keeping them overnight and drinking that water first thing in the morning helps control blood sugar levels, promotes insulin secretion, prevents water retention etc.). helpful in treating vata dosha disorders such as constipation, abdominal ache etc.
Tulsi has numerous medicinal properties (antibiotic, antifungal, antibacterial), it removes excess kapha from the lungs, promotes healthy heart function, aids weight control, keeps skin & hair healthy, acts as a diuretic, reduces the levels of uric acid and helps to cleanse the kidneys . Tulsi is sattvic in nature and is known to heighten awareness and mental clarity. Drinking tulsi water (tulsi/basil leaves soaked in water) helps cleanse the stomach and flush out toxins to improve digestive process
Dalchini/Cinnamon helps balance kapha and vata doshas. A powerful antioxidant, it protects the body from the damage of free radicals, helps relieve inflammation, helps manage prameha / type II diabetes, boosts heart health and brain function. Dalchini water is sweet to taste and helps reduce blood sugar levels, prevents bad breath etc.
Dhania/Coriander seeds water improves digestion due to its ushna/hot, deepan/appetizer and pachan/digestive properties. Helps control cough, cold due as it is beneficial in balancing Kapha dosha
Triphala (a combination of amalaki, haritaki, bibhitaki) is known as tridoshic rasayana or one that balances all the 3 doshas. Rich source of Vitamin C which helps in boosting immunity, aiding weight loss, boosting heart health, healthy skin & hair, improves eye health etc.
Taking triphala water (triphala churna/powder mixed with a glass of lukewarm water) provides relief from constipation due to vata balancing properties, helps remove ama/toxins due to its Deepan (appetizer) and Pachan (digestive) properties, corrects imbalance of meda dhatu, and helps easy waste removal due to its Rechana (mild laxative) property
Benefits of ayurvedic way of drinking water
- Drinking water first thing in the morning or Ushapana helps flush out the toxins and cleanse the intestines.
- Warm water enhances the quality of ahara rasa, which is the first nutrient fluid in the digestive tract
- Drinking hot water strengthens the digestive fire or agni in the stomach (pachaka) and digestive enzymes (ranjaka) in the liver, thus allowing for better breakdown and absorption of nutrients and removal of toxins/ama
- Drinking hot or warm water helps balance vata and kapha doshas (but hot water can aggravate the pitta dosha)
- Drinking hot/warm water alleviates kapha related disorders, relieves ama, is beneficial for rheumatoid diseases, decreases fat deposition in the body, cleanses the urinary bladder and is also useful in treating fever, cough and other respiratory problems
Other benefits of drinking the right amount of water
- Improves concentration & focus (the brain is made up of 75% water), boosts energy levels, improves stamina
- Helps keep the skin hydrated, prevents wrinkles and gives a glowing complexion
- Aids daily detoxification by flushing out waste
- Reduces the probability of kidney stones (enough water will result in regular urine output)
- Prevents constipation due to proper functioning of the digestive system
- No headaches or migraines as they are primarily caused due to shortage of water in the body
- Improves joint lubrication for better mobility
- Proper hydration will result in a calm & happy mind & healthy body. This reduces the chances of mental problems such as depression, mood swings and negativity.
- Aids weight loss by flushing out fats by products. Also helps ease hunger pangs and prevents overeating. Water has no calories so no chance of gaining weight
For human beings, water is the vital nutrient that acts as the building block of every cell in the body. Water is also responsible for the proper working of critical bodily functions such as delivering oxygen to all parts of the body, regulating body temperature via respiration & sweating, metabolization & transport of proteins & carbohydrates through the bloodstream, formation of saliva that is important for proper digestion, acting as a shock absorber for brain, spinal cord (and even the fetus in the womb), helping the brain produce hormones and neurotransmitters, keeping mucosal membranes moist, supporting joint lubrication, assisting in flushing waste out of the body (via urine) and aiding cell reproduction, growth and survival.
Ancient Ayurvedic knowledge states that human beings are a microcosm of the universe and are made up of the same 5 elements or the Panchamahabhutas – earth (prithvi), water (jal), fire (agni), wind (vayu) & space (akash) as their surroundings. These 5 elements combine to form the tridoshas (Vata, Pitta, & Kapha). Any imbalance in one or more elements can lead to aggravated tridoshas resulting in toxin buildup, which can culminate in diseases. The very basis of Ayurvedic treatment is centered on correcting the imbalance of the Panchamahabhutas.
Water or Jal is one of the Panchamahabhutas and plays a vital role in promoting good health by cooling pitta dosha, supporting kapha balance and countering the dryness of vata dosha. A natural lubricant, water nurtures the human body and helps detoxification by removing bodily waste.
The principles of Ayurveda lay great emphasis on water intake and its overall impact on all round health and have recommended particular guidelines for drinking water since hundreds of years.
The water that we drink is used up by the body during various bodily functions such as breathing, sweating, absorption of minerals & nutrients, urination etc. This lost water needs to be replenished in order to avoid dehydration. Dehydration can cause health problems such as constipation, loss of appetite, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps and more.
Modern science recommends 30ml/kg water intake of water during normal climate and if the person is not doing extensive physical activity. In case of extreme heat or intense physical activity, water intake should be 35 ml/kg.
Ayurveda recommends water intake based on prakriti, ritu and one’s thirst. Quantity is generally described in the form of anjali which is nothing but the amount of water a person can hold in his/her hands, when both are joined together, leading to a very personalized recommendation.
According to Ayurveda, water represents soma or cooling quality that is related to the moon or lunar energy.
Ayurvedic texts recommend boiling water for various lengths of time, in order to create therapeutic water called ushnodaka which helps clear the channels and improves moisture absorption.
There is a difference in the rate of absorption between boiled water and regular water. Regular water needs approximately 6 hours to absorb, provided all the channels in the body are clear. In contrast, drinking boiled (and then cooled) water requires half the time or 3 hours to absorb and also helps clear the body channels.
Another way of drinking water that finds mention in Ayurvedic texts is adding spices and herbs to it after boiling. Drinking hot water with added herbs requires only 1.5 hours for absorption due to strong agni and spices and herbs.
Ayurveda only recommends drinking water either at room temperature or hot. Chilled /refrigerated water is a big no-no, as cold water douses the digestive fire or agni (which is essential for good digestion) and causes digestive problems.
As per Ayurvedic guidelines, one must drink water only when you feel thirsty. The body recognizes the need for water and sends signals accordingly.
Drinking water when your body demands it will automatically fulfill your daily water requirement. Stop water intake when the thirst has been quenched.
Drinking warm water on an empty stomach aids digestion, makes the person feel more active and also has a positive effect on sleep patterns. 2 glasses for people in age groups 18 – 60 years is the ideal quantity.
Ideally have a gap of 30-45 minutes between water intake and food consumption, this will help pre-hydrate the stomach’s water-rich bicarbonate buffer layer.
Drinking water just before meals can reduce the digestive fire affecting digestion & metabolism, promoting insufficient absorption of nutrients. Drinking water after meals aggravates kapha, weight gain and obesity.
Drinking water sip by sip during meals clears the palate, improves digestion, absorption of nutrients and helps to maintain weight.
The thumb rule, as per Ayurveda, is 50% food, 25% water and 25% empty space in the stomach after a meal for optimum digestion.
One can have water after 45 mins post lunch.
Some theories promote drinking water in large quantities, Ayurveda DOES NOT. According to the Ayurvedic concept, excess water drinking does not promote good health. Instead it affects the digestive & metabolic functioning of the body, weakens the agni, aggravates doshas and causes many disorders such as indigestion, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney problems.
As we know, water is a coolant. Too much water intake, even when the person is not thirsty, can cause indigestion and accumulation of ama/toxins. Also, drinking large quantities of water will aggravate the Kapha dosha and the Vata dosha while reducing pitta dosha and digestive capacities.
How much water one should drink depends on the prakriti/dosha type as well as age, diet, stress levels, working style, exercise schedule of that individual. Pitta type people feel thirstier whereas the Kapha type tend to drink less water. Vata type individuals can suffer from constipation, skin dryness and need to replenish their water levels.
According to Ayurveda, water stored in vessels made from gold (hema), silver (rajata), tin (trapusha), brass (pittala), copper (tamra), iron (loha), madhudumbara (wood sap of ficus religiosa) and mud have different medicinal properties as mentioned in the Ayurveda Mahodadhi written by Vaidya Sushena.
Gold – although not a practical metal (neither affordable) in these modern times, water stored in gold vessels is cold in potency, known to balance all the doshas (vata, pitta and kapha), improve strength, intelligence, fertility, and immunity of a person.
Silver – unlike Gold, this metal is more practical and affordable and equal benefits can be acquired by drinking the water as that in Gold vessels.
Brass – water stored in a brass vessel is katu/pungent in taste, heavy, increases the pitta and kapha dosha. But it is said to increase immunity and bala/strength if used for a longer time.
Reetika/ a kind of pittala or brass vessel – water boiled in reetika is hot in potency, katu/pungent, decreases the kapha dosha, increases pitta dosha, but may increase meha roga (urinary problem).
Iron – water stored in an iron vessel is termed as dushita or spoiled and is not fit for consumption. Drinking water from an iron container may purge the malas and cleanse the stomach but it also diminishes the agni and can result in itching.
Madhudumbara/ wood of udumbara or ficus racemosa tree – water stored in a vessel made from the wood of Madhudumbara is ideal for the body, as it balances the pitta dosha and increases the luster of the body.
Mud/earthen vessel – water heated and then stored in an earthen vessel is very good for the body. It is useful in cleansing out the malas/waste products, balancing doshas and body tissues (dhatus), improving potency (veerya), immunity and strength (bala ojaskara).
Ayurveda states that keeping water in earthen/clay or mud pots is ideal as they are porous and have space for air in them, helping keep the water fresh and cool for many hours. Water kept in earthen pots is recommended as it strengthens the digestive fire/agni, helps balance the tridoshas, has balanced pH level (as clay is alkaline in nature,it interacts with acidic foods and maintains the pH balance), it reduces skin problems and acidity and improves strength.
Copper – the water stored in a copper vessel is hot/ushna in potency, katu/slightly pungent, increases the pitta and vata dosha, decreases quantity of feces and flatus. It is believed that storing water in a copper container creates a natural purification process. Copper not only has antibacterial properties, but it adds necessary nutrients to the body and helps their proper absorption. Copper improves skin, prevents premature aging, helps reduce cholesterol, controls thyroid, boosts immunity, helps burn extra fat to aid weight loss, regulates blood pressure etc.
But only consume 2-3 glasses of water stored in copper vessels. Excess copper in the body can be harmful. Anemic people should avoid drinking water stored in copper vessels.
For Pitta dosha type people, copper enriched water is good for them as it acts as coolant
For Vata dosha type people, copper has superseding anti-inflammatory properties which reduces the effects of vata
For Kapha dosha type people copper is used to treat excess of Kapha dosha
Water is the most important element for maintaining health. Following these Ayurvedic guidelines to drink water correctly and listening to the signals that our body sends can have a positive effect on the daily as well as long term health and well-being.
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