The Ayurvedic art of hydration: What we can learn from the 5,000 year old system of natural healing
Most of us know that we need to drink more water. But studies show that at least two-thirds of us are not drinking enough. Maybe it’s because we don’t think to bring our water with us during the day. Or perhaps we’ve tried to drink more water before, but haven’t felt any difference in our health when we do.
Ayurveda, a 5,000 year old system of natural healing, considers drinking water one of the most essential elements of a healthy lifestyle, and offers several principles for how to drink water so our bodies can reap the most benefits. According to Ayurveda, there are right and wrong ways to hydrate, and many ways in which we can best ensure our bodies are able to reap the most benefits from our water intake.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, Sanskrit for The Science of Life (ayur = life, veda = science or knowledge), is an ancient, natural system of medicine. Some scholars believe it originated in prehistoric times. It developed significantly as Buddhism and Jainism developed and rose in popularity. Today, Ayurveda therapies have made their way to the Western world, where naturopaths, doctors and alternative medical practitioners often integrate it into their medical and wellness practices.
Some say that Ayurveda was the first practice to take a mind-body approach to medicine, thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence that there was a strong connection between the two. Text show that the sages of India designed it to offer a way for people to stay healthy and vibrant while realizing their full human potential.
There are two main Ayurvedic principles:
- The mind and body are inextricably linked, and
- Nothing has more power to transform and heal the body than the mind
Determining your Ayurvedic constitution
Ayurveda takes a personalized approach to health, and offers different body constitution types in order to provide specific health guidance based upon your unique characteristics.
Your Ayurvedic body type, or “dosha,” can tell you a lot about the best ways to nourish your body. There are three primary doshas. According to Ayurveda, each of us has a bit of all three, but one or two usually dominate:
- Vata: Characterized by properties of dry, cold, light and movement.
- Pitta: A fiery element, characterized by heat, liquid and sharpness.
- Kapha: A watery element, characterized by heaviness, cold, tenderness and slowness.
According to Ayurveda, identifying your dosha type will help you determine what foods are best (and worst) for your personal overall health. It could also help you determine how much water you need a day.
Take this short quiz to determine what dosha you are.
Staying hydrated the Ayurvedic way
Ayurveda offers several tips for how to stay hydrated, beyond the typical “drink 32 ounces of water” we typically hear:
Start your day with a tall glass of warm water
According to Ayurveda, ice water can freeze enzymes, making it harder for your body to absorb nutrients and difficult for your gut to properly process food. At the same time, cold water makes our blood vessels constrict, preventing blood from reaching our organs. Lukewarm or warm water encourages the natural flow of the lymph system.
Don’t glug your water all at once
Have you ever gulped down 16 ounces of water quickly, just to find you have to urinate 10 minutes later? If you’ve ever found that your urine is perfectly clear shortly after drinking a lot of water, according to Ayurveda, it may be because your body did not absorb it effectively.
Drink 1 glass of warm water over the course of 15 minutes before a meal
In order to promote healthy digestion, approximately 30 to 45 minutes before a meal, drink 1 glass of warm water slowly. This will hydrate the stomach lining, aid digestion, and eliminate heartburn and acid reflux problems.
Sip another glass of water 1 hour after eating
About an hour after a meal, sip another glass of warm water slowly. Stick to one glass, and don’t drink loads of water after (or before) your meals.
Avoid drinking water during meals
Although a few sips of warm water or herbal tea is fine, cold water can put out the “digestive fire,” and make it difficult of our bodies to absorb nutrients, rid itself of toxins and digest fully. Aim to fill your body 50 percent with food, 25 percent with water, and leave the other 25 percent empty for digestive juices.
Sip hot water every 15 minutes throughout the day
An essential Ayurveda tip for hydrating and cleansing the body, sipping hot water throughout the day may help keep your body functioning at its best throughout the day.
Other dietary Ayurvedic tips
- Eat a colorful, flavorful diet.
- Incorporate spices, such as turmeric, into your daily diet.
- Eat according to your dosha.
- Add ginger, salt or lemon to water to increase its effectiveness even more.
- Minimize raw foods, which are harder to digest than cooked ones.
- Eat early. Many people who follow an Ayurvedic diet eat as early as 4 pm so their bodies have time to digest before they go to sleep for the night.
- Supplement your diet with detoxifying herbs, such as Ashwaganda.
- Always sit down to eat.
- Don’t eat until you are definitely hungry.
- Include all six tastes at each meal.
Sip water every 15 minutes throughout the day with Healthy Human
Jumpstart your efforts to drink more water the Ayurvedic way by letting Healthy Human be your essential hydration partner.
- Stock up on our 100% BPA-free, stainless steel bottles to keep with you everywhere you go
- Visit our daily Live Life Healthy blog for healthy hydration hacks and more
- Connect with us on Facebook and Instagram and share your Healthy Human story.
Do you incorporate any ayurveda practices into your daily life?
Have some favorite ayurveda practices that have helped you tremendously? Let us know in the comments section below.