A friend recently posted on Facebook about her intention to drink more water going forward because it has such simple yet profound healing properties. I couldn’t agree more and quickly jumped on her bandwagon, determined to put more attention on my own tendency to be dehydrated. And, as I usually do these days, I look to Ayurveda for answers, so I’ll share some tips on staying hydrated the Ayurvedic way.
I spent a lot of time in the Sonoran Desert the past three years and always marveled at how plants could thrive in the blistering dry heat. Cactus would be blooming in spite of the sporadic appearance of water.
How clever Mother Nature is to design plants in the hot desert climate to be able to store water instead of needing it constantly.
Well, we’re not a cactus, but we do need to be able to absorb water and get it to where it needs to go. The problem with a blanket statement of drinking x number of glasses of water per day is that our bodies are all different and handle water in various ways.
The Vata-type individual generally has the hardest time staying hydrated because, by nature, they’re dry.
Especially during Vata Season (right now for many of us in the Northern Hemisphere) dry conditions exacerbate the dehydration.
Many people with a lot of Vata dosha in their constitution are chronically dehydrated, inside and out, and it becomes a contributing factor in many Vata-type disorders.
They often suffer from something known as “kidney flushing” and, just like an overly-dry plant, they drink water and almost immediately urinate. This is obviously not good because the water is not getting to where it needs to go.
Adding a little fresh lime juice and a pinch of sea salt can help a Vata-type retain water.
Conversely, the Kapha-type individual, by nature, tends to retain water and drinking too much water can be more of a problem than drinking too little.
Pitta-types tend to be hot and often lose greater amounts of water through their bodily fluids. They generally can follow the standard Western guidelines of drinking half their body weight in lbs switched to oz. For example: 120 lbs ÷ 2 = 60 oz = suggested daily intake of water. And of course, more water and added electrolytes are advised when losing excessive amounts of fluids.
No matter what your Ayurvedic constitution is, here are a few basic tips for staying hydrated
- Start your day with a tall glass of warm water (with or without lemon). This will not only help re-hydrate you from the night, but will help open the channels and flush toxins (ama) out of the body. Spring water is best.
- Avoid ice cold drinks. Hot or warm water is much kinder to the body, is more easily absorbed and helps digestion, elimination and a host of other bodily functions. Ice water puts out the digestive fire. Overly hot Pitta-types can drink cool liquids but Vata and Kapha doshas both have cold properties and do best with warm liquids.
- Drink a glass of water 1/2 an hour before meals to hydrate the stomach lining and aid digestion. This will also help eliminate heartburn and acid reflux problems.
- Avoid drinking water during meals (a few sips of warm water or herbal tea is ok). Again, cold water puts out the digestive fire. This is where American restaurants really get it wrong.
- Sipping hot water every 15 minutes throughout the day is an Ayurvedic tip for cleansing and hydrating the body. Sounds a little daunting, but if you keep a thermos or two around the house or office and set a timer on your phone, it becomes second-nature. Give it a try!
- Sip another glass of warm water an hour after eating. This will also help with digestion.
- Drink a glass of water before bed. A nice relaxing herbal tea can substitute.
Just these few Ayurvedic tips can truly revolutionize your health. I plan to get back on the bandwagon right now as I am feeling seriously dehydrated from traveling and straying from my normal routine.