In 2011, I decided to go back to school for holistic nutrition.
While I was given the opportunity to study and experiment with over 100 different dietary theories, Ayurvedic medicine undoubtedly left the biggest impact due to its no-nonsense, grounded approach to healing the body.
For anyone not familiar, Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India and is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit.
One of our guest teachers was Dr. John Douillard, a renowned Ayurvedic doctor and respected mentor in his field. During one of his weekly challenges, we were encouraged to perform a simple experiment to determine if we were dehydrated. Considering most Americans supposedly suffer from chronic dehydration, we were all eager to accept the task at hand.
The challenge was simple: drink warm to hot water throughout the day. If by the end of the day your mouth feels dry and you are actually thirsty for more hot water, you are most likely dehydrated.
I accepted the challenge, convinced I would be one of the small percentage of people who would report back with pride that I was not, in fact, dehydrated. Heck, I was a fitness instructor at the time, never touched soda, and considered my respectable water intake one of my most solid life choices.
I was both humbled and surprised when, by the end of the first day, I was legitimately craving hot water. It felt like I thoroughly understood what people stuck in the desert for days without a drop of water must experience.
Although our levels of thirst varied, almost everyone who participated in the experiment found that they too were needing another hot water fix by the end of the day. We also reported that we felt better overall—more energetic, more rested, less achy, and all around more alive. One person’s skin even cleared up.
Considering our bodies are 70 percent water, these side effects made perfect sense.
After day one, Dr. Douillard’s protocol was simple: continue drinking hot water every 10-15 minutes for two weeks straight. He also recommended keeping a thermos with us and filling it up throughout the day—doing this detoxes the lymphatic system and helps improve circulation.
When the two weeks were up, he encouraged us to aim for drinking half our body weight in ounces. For example, as a 120-pound female, I would shoot for 60 ounces of water a day. This easily calculated prescription is much more reliable than the age-old assumption that we all need eight glasses. It’s more tailored to the individual and can be adjusted based on how we feel. Our bodies are all different and have different needs, so it’s important to use these calculations only as a guide.
Water is a sacred life source that we can easily take for granted, and our bodies are sacred vessels that deserve our best, most mindful attention. With that being said, here are six tips we can all keep in our back pocket when we’re working to rehydrate ourselves and make the most out of our water drinking endeavors.
1. Drink water slowly and mindfully. Let’s not pretend we’re having a beer chugging contest at a frat party, but instead be aware that the purpose of drinking water is to nourish ourselves.
2. If possible, sit down while drinking water. When we’re sitting, our body is naturally more relaxed, thus allowing our bodies to fully absorb the water. Dr. Douillard also explained that kidneys are better at filtering when we’re sitting down.
3. Avoid ice water and drink room temperature water when possible. Ice water not only disrupts digestion, but it also consumes energy we could be directing to other areas. When we drink ice water, our body temperature rises in order to aide in the digestion process, which can slow us down both mentally and physically.
4. Drink a glass of warm water first thing in the morning and before bed. This will help flush out toxins that may have accumulated, as well as flush out the urinary tract system.
5. Drink a glass of warm water 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after each meal. This aids in proper digestion. Drinking water during meals actually hinders the digestion process.
6. Avoid tap water when possible. It’s chlorinated and chock-full of chemicals. Also keep in mind that most bottled water is tap water, and the plastic from the bottles is not only terrible for our planet, but horrible for our bodies. Well or spring water is best because both contain naturally occurring minerals.
Ayurvedic medicine goes much deeper than these tips and tricks, so use them as basic guidelines. For more specifics about drinking, eating, and life habits that can be of benefit, figure out your dosha type.
Author: Rachel Dehler
Image: Tanja Heffner/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman