With the vast amount of wisdom that makes up Ayurvedic medicine, it is not too surprising that there are multiple guidelines when it comes to the “when”, “how” and “how much” to drink. Although western nutrition states that we should drink our 8 cups of water each day (or sometimes much, much more), this is a very general and vague recommendation that leaves a lot of room for misconception and misuse.
Just like any of the brilliant food rules of Ayurveda, hydrating properly will bestow you with healthy digestion, gentle detoxification, soft skin, luster, energy, and overall wellness. Alternatively, improper hydration can lead to sluggish digestion, toxic accumulation, dryness or water retention, and general feelings of heaviness.
Making small changes like the ones suggested below will create big changes in your health. These hydration recommendations are simple to administer and can easily be incorporated by all individuals. Some of these recommendations may come naturally to you and others may seem more foreign. If this is the case, try adopting the guidelines one at a time, as you slowly establish total hydration health in your daily life. You will be amazed at the impact these simple rules will play on your overall well-being.
How to Hydrate Properly With Ayurveda
1. Drink for your body type.
Just like all things Ayurveda, each dosha type has general guidelines that state how much water to drink each day. Please keep in mind that flavored beverages (including herbal teas) are not considered water and therefore should not be included in your daily quota. A splash of lemon or lime in your water is acceptable and can be included, however.
Besides following these doshic guidelines, you should also consider the season and your specific environment. For example, if a Kapha individual is living in New Mexico and it is the middle of the hot, dry summer season, they may need 8 cups of water during this time of year. Alternatively, if a Kapha individual is living in Washington State during the cool, damp winter season, then they may only need 4-5 cups daily in order to avoid heaviness and water retention.
2. Begin your day with a cup of hot water.
Starting your day with a large glass of warm water is one of the most important recommendations you can follow for your morning routine. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Hydrates your body after a long night’s sleep
- Promotes a healthy morning bowel movement
- Awakens the digestive fire and vital organs
- Flushes toxins from the system
Directions: Each morning, directly after waking and cleaning the teeth and tongue, drink 8-16 ounces of hot water. This should be taken before any other food or beverage intake. If desired, you can add in a splash of fresh lemon juice for Vata and Kapha types, and lime juice for Pitta. Wait at least 30 minutes before eating.
3. Never drink iced beverages!
This may seem unusual to you, but I cannot stress the value of following this profound recommendation. Drinking excessively cold or iced beverages is a direct way to douse your digestive fire, constrict the vital channels of the GI tract, constrict circulation (causing cold hands and feet, etc), and create indigestion and toxic accumulation in the gut. Further, this habit increases Vata dosha and can lead to multiple Vata imbalances over time.
4. Sip on warm water between meals.
While avoiding cold beverages, we should begin to incorporate hot-warm water throughout each day. Practicing this hydration recommendation will have profound benefits for your digestion, energy, and overall wellness. Here are some benefits you can expect from sipping on hot water between meals:
- Increases the digestive fire
- Steadily flushes out and detoxifies the system
- Clears the vital channels of the GI tract
- Stimulates the vital organs to keep them robust throughout the day
- Promotes healthy urination and bowel habits
- Promotes healthy hydration and lubrication
- Reduces dryness (hot water is absorbed better than cold water)
- Improves circulation throughout the body
5. Avoid drinking any liquids before, during, and after food intake.
This is a recommendation often taken with reluctance as many of us are so used to chugging a glass of water, milk, or various beverage with our meals. By making this essential change in your daily dietary habits you will begin to boost the digestive fire (Agni), reduce a sluggish metabolism, and prevent toxicity in the gut. Here are the specific qualifications to remember:
- Do not drink beverages of any kind during meals (a few small sips of warm-hot water is acceptable if needed)
- Avoid all beverages up to 30 minutes before meals
- Avoid all beverages 1-2 hours post-meal
These hydration guidelines are essential when following an Ayurvedic diet and should be administered just as any other dietary recommendation. By following the rules listed above, you will undoubtedly begin to notice great changes in your digestion, energy, and overall health. If multiple changes are needed to be made, it is suggested to take things slow and add in one recommendation each week or two, until all of the guidelines have been adopted. You will be greatly surprised by the positive impact these beverage rules will create in your daily life and wonder how you had once lived without them!