The importance of drinking enough water
Some ancient Eastern cultures believed that 90% of human diseases were caused by improper drinking of water. Lack of water can disrupt the process of digestion and elimination, contaminating blood with toxins and poisoning the body. It can result in various diseases of the digestive tract and cause constipation. If toxins are not eliminated via the intestines and kidneys, the body tries to get rid of it through the lungs, which causes increased breathing and irregular heartbeat. When toxins in the blood get to the brain, a person might develop migraine headaches. The lack of water will result in dry and scaly skin, split hair ends and brittle nails. This list may go on.
It is crucial to understand the importance of proper hydration. Water is like the elixir of beauty and youth, which cleanses the body from toxins and helps to prevent health problems.
Interesting facts about water
We all know that more than 70% of our body consists of water and it participates in the process of digestion. Every day our body produces about 1.5l of saliva, 2.5l of digestive juice, 0.5l of bile, 0.7l of pancreatic juice and 3l of intestinal juice. Of course, this water remains in the system, but, in order to keep the body healthy and strong, it should be replaced as any other used water. However, our body loses a certain amount of water (2.5l-3l) daily. We lose water through kidneys (1.5l), sweating (0.6l), respiration (0.3l), and faeces (0.2l). The body eliminates toxins and waste via these fluids. If the amount of lost water is not restored, the process of excretion mechanisms will be hampered. Consequently, the toxins will accumulate in the body, in effect poisoning it.
In the Far East it is believed that the amount of consumed water is as important as the manner of its consumption. Therefore, one should equally consider the amount and occasion of water consumption. In the Yoga philosophical system, these tips are praised as the five golden rules of water drinking, which play a key part in maintaining good health and well-being.
The five golden rules of drinking water
1. Drink 1 glass of water in the morning and restrain from eating for 1.5 hours.
A glass of water washes the stomach and the digestive tract. Cleaning our digestive system and preparing it to work is as important as brushing our teeth. In the morning our stomach is somewhat ‘sleepy’ like a deflated balloon. Morning water activates its walls for digestion. In the first few days, morning water may not be very pleasant. Some people may get nauseous, but this is only temporary. So, if you have the will and patience, the unpleasant feeling will disappear after a few days, or a week at most. Your stomach will be clean and able to accept the water.
Why do we have to restrain from eating for 1.5 hours after the morning water? This is where Western and Eastern ideas of nutrition collide. The famous Western proverb ‘Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper’ in the East would be rephrased as ‘Eat breakfast like a pauper, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a king’. Probably we all know that digestion takes a lot of energy. After a meal there is hardly any energy left to engage in activities such as emotional response to environment, thinking, decision making, not to mention physical activity. And, as we know, most of the important decisions and work must be done in the first half of the day. Maybe this is the reason for eating less in the morning.
2. Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before every meal.
Washing hands before meal is as important as ‘washing’ your gastric tract. Moreover, this water will add to the water amount in the body and, as it was mentioned above, a considerable amount of water is essential for digestion. This habit will help us to become more aware about the nutrition process. Most of the time, our body doesn’t distinguish between hunger and thirst. When our body is asking for water we decide to drink a cup of tea, or coffee, usually followed by a biscuit or cake. You are not quenching your thirst – you are consuming food. Let’s not forget this simple rule.
3. Don’t drink anything while eating, or for 40 minutes after the meal.
First of all, water taken during a meal can dilute digestive juices and saliva, which have a particular chemical composition and helps to break down the food. Air is essential for the digestive process as well, so the stomach should contain enough space not only for gastric juices but also for air. Only half of the stomach should contain food, one quarter of it should be filled with digestive juices and the rest quarter filled with air. Digestion takes from half an hour to 3 hours depending on the type of consumed food. Only then the processed food enters the duodenum and this is when we can drink liquids, even water.
4. Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
We need to drink water before we go to bed, because the body eliminates toxins during the night. Also we lose a lot of water by respiration and sweating, so we should replenish water supplies. Don’t be afraid! It won’t make you to get up at night; a cup of tea will, though. Try it and you will see.
5. Drink water whenever you feel thirsty.
This rule does not need any comments. Quench your thirst with water. Feed your hunger. It is crucial to highlight the type of water that the rules apply to. It does not include soft drinks, coffee or tea. These products have taste, so our body interprets them as food. So water should be with no flavourings or additives. It can be water from a well, a spring or filtered tap water. It is advisable to drink room temperature water. You will be surprised when water becomes your cheapest and simplest cure in daily life. The results will show in no time. Within two weeks, your large intestines will become clean, in two months you will forget about heartburn problems, it will regulate your gastric system and constant headaches will disappear. You will feel healthy, vigorous and energetic! We hope that all of you find the strength to change the nutrition process, since sticking to these five simple rules of water drinking will provide you with great benefits.
The Ayurvedic way to drink water:
1. First off, sit down to drink (just as you should sit down to eat).
2. Take sips, not full-glass chugs. Small sip, swallow, breathe. Repeat.
3. Sip water throughout the day. If you chug too much water at once your body doesn’t actually absorb all of it. Most of it will run right through you.
4. Drink at least room temperature water. Warm is even better. Cold and iced water literally douse the digestive fire.
5. Only sip a small amount of water with your meals. If you drink too much while you eat, your belly won’t have enough room for digestive action. Remember this rule: fill your stomach 50% with food, 25% with water, and leave 25% empty for the digestive juices and process.
6. For the same reason, don’t drink loads of water before or after your meals. Fill 50% with food, 25% with water, and leave 25% empty.
7. Drink when you’re thirsty. Thirst is a natural urge that should be heeded. It means your body needs water.
8. As far as how much, we’re all different sizes with varied diets and lifestyles. One set rule of eight glasses a day simply can not apply to everyone. Naturally, the miraculous human body has it’s own built-in measuring system: thirst. If you’re thirsty, drink water. When you listen to thirst cues and sip water throughout the day you’ll be drinking the right amount.
9. Your urine is a secondary confirmation to know if you’re amply hydrated. It should be fairly clear and straw colored. If it’s dark yellow you need to drink more.
10. Your lips are yet another indicator. If they’re dry you might be dehydrated.
The rules are so straightforward, perhaps even obvious or intuitive. But they might make a serious difference in the way you feel on a daily basis.
Whether it’s how to eat, how to drink, how to bathe, or the myriad of other natural behaviors that we’ve never given a second thought, the beautiful science of Ayurveda teaches us the ideal way to do each to feel our absolute best.