Re-thinking Your Water Intake

When I individually meet with clients for an Ayurvedic consultation, I often ask them, “How much water are you drinking?”   Unfailingly the response from the majority of people is, “I’m sure I’m not drinking enough!”  This comes regardless of their age, weight, and specific health concerns.  My point in asking is to ascertain how their water intake may be impacting the rest of their health, not to make a judgment.  Yet, there seems to be an innate conditioning ingrained in the brains of the general American population.

We have all heard that we should drink 8 glasses of water a day.  However, consider if you are living in Alaska or Hawaii and how the temperature and daily routine might impact your water intake.  On a personal level, think of how your level of activity varies in the summer as compared to the winter.  If you’re active and performing vigorous activity such as running or tennis or playing basketball, you’ll likely sweat more and will need to replenish to water that’s been eliminated from your body.

As we all know, our body is primarily comprised of water.  We require water for taste, to digest our food, and to maintain the water electrolyte balance in our bodies.

According to Ayurveda, we are all born with a unique constitution and can be generally classified as having 1 or 2 dominant body types.  Vata constitutions are very active and usually lean in frame; they can do well with 8 glasses of water a day.  Pitta types are usually medium build, can be quite ambitious and they tend to sweat more than the other two types.  They tend to push themselves beyond their capacity both physically and mentally.  Depending on the type of activity they are performing, they can do well with 5-8 glasses of water a day.  Kapha types are less likely to perform physical exercise and can usually function with less than 8 glasses of water a day.

The amount of your water intake should depend on the season, your body type, current state of imbalance, and your level of physical activity.  It’s very important not to become dehydrated, especially during the summer.

Drinking too much liquid with or directly before or after a meal can dampen the agni, or digestive fire, and make it more challenging for our food to digest.  Drinking water that is chilled also is harder for the body to assimilate.  The cold quality will constrict your capillaries and this makes it more difficult for nutrients to pass through.

Going on a “water fast” is not necessarily a quick and easy diet strategy.  Consuming more water than your kidneys are able to filter puts a great deal of stress on them and can lead to water retention, frequent trips to the bathroom at night, and potentially more serious health problems.

Guidelines are very useful guideposts, yet it is equally beneficial to assess what your current physical needs are and listen to what your body needs. This applies to your water intake and other health aspects of Ayurvedic daily routine.