Building health is much like building a house. Unless the foundation is strong, the building will not be sturdy. If maintaining health is high up on your list of New Year resolutions, consider some of the basic and most fundamental things to start with- like how you drink your water!
The modest disposition of water often makes us take this most essential nutrient of our diet lightly. For those who are not aware; water is also the simplest and the most powerful remedy to most of our health issues. However, it all comes down to how we drink it!
Ayurveda has described the qualities of different types of water- like hot water, boiled water; water originating from different sources like springs, lakes, rivers and wells, as well as the changes in qualities of water in different seasons. Also, the correct methods of drinking water have been explained in great details. Here are some simple and effective Ayurvedic methods of getting extraordinary benefits from ordinary drinking water.
It is not the quantity that matters!
Most contemporary nutritionists, dieticians and fitness experts swear by drinking plenty of water for weight loss. Drinking water has mothered many weight loss mantras. The question is- do they work? NO!
Ayurveda has a simple principle- drink whenever you feel thirsty. Each person is different. Their needs are different too. To blindly assume that such blanket rules can apply to complex beings like humans is preposterous!
Ayurveda encourages every person to understand their body’s subtle signals that we often ignore. We tend to override and suppress our natural urges more often than we realize. Thirst is perhaps the most suppressed natural urges. Constant suppression of thirst leads to a sort of ‘desensitization’ of our body to our normal needs. This is when the routine of designated cups of water a day appeals to us. Always remember that your body is not a car engine that has designated capacity for gas. Each individual has different needs even regarding water. The best indicator of that need is thirst. Take some time out and see how often you have the urge to drink water. Depending on body types, Pitta body types need more water due to the dominance of fire element in their body. Also, they perspire more and require more water to keep their body hydrated. Vata body types also need more water due to the drying nature of dominant air element in them. Kapha body types demand less water due to the dominance of cooling water and earth elements in their constitution. So know when your thirsty and drink enough to quench your thirst!
Warm Water no ice!
Cold water and water laden with ice suppresses normal hunger patterns and slows down the digestion. Having exact opposite qualities to that of our digestive fire- an entity that regulates digestion; cold water literally douses our digestive capabilities. It leads to dilution of digestive enzymes and leads to build-up of toxic waste or Ama in our body. Drinking cold water, beverages, soda and any cold, iced drinks is strictly discouraged in Ayurveda. Warm water helps in balancing all the three Dosha (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) in our body. Drinking warm water helps in promoting healthy appetite, boosts digestion and metabolism. It also promotes healthy weight loss, relieves abdominal bloating, pain and constipation. Warm water is also one of the best remedies for people who suffer from Rheumatoid arthritis which is caused due to accumulation of undigested toxic metabolites in the body.
Water and food
Too much of water both before and after meals is bad for our digestion. Too much water at meal times causes sluggish digestion which is the root cause of many diseases. Indigestion, lethargy, obesity, metabolic diseases, fever, toxin build-up or Ama etc. are some of the diseases caused by sluggish digestion that entails after excessive water intake with food. Ayurveda recommends taking small sips of warm water while you are eating in order to soften the food and to prepare the food for digestion. Having water one hour after meal, is a safe way to go.
Pep up your water
People who have pitta dominance in their body should add cooling spices like mint, a tiny pinch of fragrant Cardamom or sandal wood to their water. Those with Kapha dominance, slow digestion should add a tiny piece of Fresh ginger, a tsp. of honey or a pinch of dried ginger powder to their water. Those with Vata dominance benefit from adding a dash of fresh lemon or a wedge of lemon to their drinking water. Lemon grass, crushed cumin and coriander seeds also make great water fortifiers.
According to different seasons here are some things you can add to your water to balance Doshas and maintain health –
• Spring– Fresh or dried ginger, Cumin seeds, Carom seeds, honey, fresh herbs like mint, lemon grass and tulsi
• Summer– Mint, lemon grass, lemon juice or lemon wedges, fennel greens, fennel seeds, cardamom, Ayurvedic herbs like sandal wood powder, Musta-coco-grass/purple nut sedge (Cyperus rotundus), Ushir – vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizhanoides).
• Autumn– Lemon juice, lemon grass, fresh or dried ginger, lemon wedges, cinnamon, cumin seeds, carom seeds.
• Winter– Fresh or dried ginger, lemon grass, basil, Tulsi, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise.
They augment the healing properties of water by many times. They can be just added to hot water or steeped in boiling water for 10 min for more strength. Once again, all these herbs should be added based on whether or not they suit YOU.
So in this brand new year, see your water differently and enjoy the difference it makes to your health!