How much water should I drink?
For years, most of us have heard the suggestion that the best way to consume water is drink “8 cups of water a day.” Unfortunately it isn’t really that simple. In fact, each of us has a unique constitution and lifestyle that actually has different requirements to stay hydrated. The amount of re-hydration we need on a given day is directly related to how much hydration we have lost through the loss of bodily fluids.
When we eat, we need to sip just enough fluid with our meal to make our food somewhat liquid. In addition, if we can’t digest our water it doesn’t matter how much we drink, we never really get hydrated. It may seem strange to think that we have to digest our water but, just like anything that we swallow, water has to be digested and transformed into a suitable fluid for our body’s nutritional needs. We have probably all had the experience of feeling bloated and overly full after drinking water—this is a sign that it is not being properly transformed.
And that is actually the most important factor. Our body is not like a sponge. Our bodily tissues don’t just immediately soak up the water we drink and suddenly become hydrated. If we drink too much water, just as when we eat too much food, we can dampen our digestive fire. Drinking too little water can also weaken our digestion.
The simplest way to know how much water we should drink is to drink when we are thirsty. Modern nutritionists say this is probably too late, as we are already overly dehydrated by this point—but this may be because most of us have lost touch with the subtle signs of our thirst. It may take some time to redevelop that sensitivity.
n general, all of us will tend to need to drink more water from the middle of summer through the autumn and less from mid-winter through the spring.
When Should I Drink Water?
Again, the best rule of thumb is to drink when you are thirsty.
Drinking cold water (or any cold beverage) constricts the flow of blood to the digestive tract, making digestion more sluggish. By now many of us have heard that we shouldn’t drink beverages with our meal, but when we eat, we do need to sip just enough fluid with our meal to make our food somewhat liquid. This is why many cultures around the world include a small cup of tea or soup with every meal. In some cuisines, it is common to drink a bowl of broth before eating.
One way to start to get in touch with the sensation of thirst is to drink a glass of water large enough to quench your thirst when you wake up. Wait at least an hour before eating breakfast. Then again at least an hour before your next meal (at least 1.5-2 hours after eating) drink a glass of water. If you normally eat 3 meals a day, then repeat this before your next meal. The size of the glass of water should vary, based on what you want to drink at the moment.
Cooking Your Water
Cooking our food and drinks is a process of pre-digestion. This means that our body doesn’t have to work as hard to get benefit from our nourishment. In fact, it makes the nourishment more available to our body.
Using clear spring water or filtered water (tap water is also usually fine), boil it for 10 minutes. This water cooled to room temperature and kept in a covered container is said to be easy to digest and particularly good for soothing inflammatory (Pitta) conditions in the body.
Drinking the boiled water while it is still warm is even more medicinal. Hot water is said to stimulate hunger and aid digestion of food. It is good for the throat, easily digested, and cleanses the urinary bladder. In addition, it relieves hiccups, bloating and aggravation of Vata and Kapha doshas. It can be helpful in reducing fever and easing cough and asthma. It helps the body get rid of accumulated, undigested food and can soothe pain in the hips and back.
In contrast, drinking cold water (or any cold beverage) constricts the flow of blood to the digestive tract, making digestion more sluggish. This is made much worse when the cold beverage is taken with a meal.
Adding Oomph to Your Water
Sometimes it can be helpful to add some spices or herbs to water to make it more absorbable—and more interesting. This is essentially what we are doing when we make tea. Here are some spices that can make your water even more medicinal:
Cumin, coriander and fennel seeds
Add about 5 seeds of each for every ½ c. of water when you are boiling it. Strain out the seeds before drinking. This blend is particularly good for stimulating digestion during gentle cleanses.
Sandalwood, cardamom or mint
These cooling herbs can soothe Pitta irritability, especially during the hot summer months. A pinch of powder herb or a few leaves of mint will work nicely. If you are used to drinking hot mint tea, try just putting the mint into cooled water. It has a really nice cooling effect on a hot day!
Uncooked honey added to cooled water (about a ½ tsp. or so) can be a good aid to weight loss and helps to clear excess Kapha during the spring.
A pinch of ginger powder in your morning glass of water enkindles your digestive fire and can be helpful for reducing Vata and Kapha excess.
Yes, gold. In this case, you are not really adding gold to your water, but just putting gold into the pot with the water when you boil it. It should be 22k or higher. I use a simple gold ring without any stones (gemstones have other effects that may be undesirable). Gold is said to greatly enhance immunity.