Point 1: ‘Not Enough’
Not consuming enough fluids is one of the major causes of everyday problems such as fatigue, constipation, headaches, irritability, poor decision-making & co-ordination. Craig Harper, a leading health expert once said he suspected 50% of the population is ‘chronically dehydrated’.
If that’s you, you could significantly improve your health, performance and well-being just by drinking more hydrating fluids (water, herbal teas etc – as opposed to coffee, alcohol etc which ‘dehydrate’ your body).
Point 2: ‘Too Much’
Like most things in Western science, now we know we should drink more, some people go ‘too far the other way’. I’m sure you know some people have a water bottle ‘surgically attached’ to their mouth. However, too much water is just as dangerous as too little. Drinking too much, can lead to ‘water gorging’, diluting the blood, possible hyponatremia and a range of disturbances from dizziness/balance problems, right through to possible respiratory failure & even seizures. * These are extreme cases, generally related to athletes, not everyday workers – but you get the point.
Point 3: ‘So, what is the Right Amount?’
8 glasses/day is ideal, right? Well, if we stop and think about this, we’ll realise that this ‘Rule’ is a classic (somewhat ridiculous!) ‘oversimplification’. A 120kg person, who exercises for 2 hours/day, drinks alcohol & coffee, eats little ‘high fluid foods’ (juicy fruits etc) and works in an air-conditioned office will need substantially more water than a 60g person, who does the exact opposite things.
So how do you know what’s right for you? Well, the answer is something we don’t hear much about these days. Make sure you’re sitting down because it might shock you. It’s really complex and highly technical, so pay close attention. It’s called……wait for it …..… thirst! Yes, profound isn’t it!!! Your infinitely intelligent body, which has spontaneously correlated all the myriad factors affecting fluid balance at any one time, gives you the simple message to drink more. End of story.
Now of course, some modern experts say that ‘thirst’ is not a reliable indicator – that we are already slightly dehydrated by the time we get thirsty. If that were true, it would be the first natural bodily feedback system that was never ‘perfect’. The reality is, your thirst mechanism, is perfect. The problem is we get so busy/stressed and out of balance that we have stopped ‘listening’/being ‘in tune’ with our body is enough to ‘hear’ the messages it is giving us – more rest, less food, more fluids etc. Thus we override our own ‘subjective’(perfectly intelligent) knowledge of ‘exactly’ what we need, in favour of some externally imposed ‘objective’ rule about what we need (e.g 8 glasses/day), based on the average of the whole population.
So with all that in mind, here are some healthy drinking tips:
Tip 1: The Ideal: Drink according to ‘THIRST”
Now, to do this you will need to LISTEN to your body (what the ancient Ayurvedic sages taught first and foremost), not what the experts say. Stop regularly during the day and put your attention on your body. If you are thirsty…Drink. If not…Don’t. If in doubt, generally drink at regular intervals throughout the day. You are much likely to drink too little than too much, so it is still good to drink before you get ‘super thirsty’.
Tip 2: The Back-Up Test: Drink According to Urine Colour
Whenever you go to the toilet. Take note of the colour of your urine. Ideally it should be a very light yellow (almost clear). If it’s dark yellow – up your water intake. If it’s completely clear and you are going to the toilet every 30 minutes, you may be drinking ‘too much’. That’s a good sign to start putting more attention on drinking ONLY when you are thirsty – not just because you ‘think’ you should. More is not always better.
Tip 3: Avoid Disturbing Digestion: Only Drink ‘Between’ Meals
According to the ancient science of Maharishi Ayurveda, drinking large quantities of fluids with meals, greatly interferes with proper digestion of food.
Try to avoid drinking large quantities of fluid – i.e cups – at least 30 minutes before a meal and 60 minutes after a meal.
* Sipping ‘small amounts’ of plain water is okay during a meal.
** Weight Loss!!! For those trying to lose weight, this recommendation of not drinking straight after meals is very important. Doing so increases ‘kapha’ (related to weight gain) and leads to improperly digested food that is then stored rather than eliminated from the body.
Tip 4: Avoid Cold/Ice Cold Fluids
Your digestion works on the principle of heat. Those who have been to our seminars will remember the big flame/fire we use as an analogy of our digestion. If there is a fire at your work, what is the first thing you would grab to put it out?…cold water. Likewise, when we drink cold water, we totally ‘put out’ our internal fire – we destroy our ability to ‘cook’ the food we eat, we disturb proper appetite and ultimately create ‘ama’ (poison) even from the ‘healthy’ food we eat.
So as a minimum, always drink room temperature water – * cool water is okay in very hot conditions. Where possible, especially if you are carrying excess weight or generally feel ‘sluggish/blocked’ etc, drinking BOILED WATER is the best of all. Boiling water breaks down it’s polar bonds, making it ‘lighter’. The heat helps soften up the tissues & mobilise the impurities in the system and the ‘lightness’ helps it penetrate into the deeper tissues, moving out the all the ‘old’ impurities as well. It’s like washing your dishes, washing with ‘hot water’ makes it much easier and much more effective. When the water boils, it gets charged with heat, becoming sharper in quality (sookshma). This sharpness allows it to cleanse the channels and penetrate deeper levels of the physiology.
Spices create an added therapeutic effect by interacting with the water on the molecular level. Spices create different effects on the body through aroma and taste. It becomes easier for the body to flush out toxins and impurities because of the sharpness of the agni (heat) in the water and because of the sharpness of the spices. Over time, it cleanses the channels so the water is unobstructed as it travels into the body to hydrate the tissues, and travels out carrying waste.
Ancient texts talk about the difference in the rate of absorption of regular water vs. boiled water:
regular water — takes about 6 hours if every channel is clear
boiled and cooled water — takes about 3 hours to be absorbed, and helps open the channels
hot herbalized water — takes about 1 1/2 hours, due to sharpness of agni and herbs and spices
What to do about ‘cold beer’ will have to be covered at a later time!!!