The Health Benefits of Water in Ayurveda

Benefits-of-water-in-ayurvedaWe’ve all heard that it is healthy to drink approximately 8 glasses of water per day, but in reality, everyone’s bodies are different. What works for a certain body type might not work for another. Ayurveda helps us understand how water affects the body.

room-temperature-waterFirstly, it is important to note that Ayurveda strongly advocates drinking warm or room temperature water. We all have a digestive fire that can be depressed or weakened when we intake cold or iced water. It’s unfortunate that most restaurants serve iced water, because not only will it disturb our ability to digest food properly, it will also consume more of the body’s energy. That’s because as soon as cold water enters the body, the body will need to heat it up to its own temperature before digesting it. And yes, we *digest* water; it doesn’t just pass through our system in minutes. In fact, different types of water is digested at different rates. For example, boiled water takes ½ hour to digest, while other water takes up to three hours.

No matter what your choice of water is, Ayurveda suggests not consuming too much water during a meal (and right before or right after), since it can dilute our bile and reduce agni. The best practice is to drink 30 minutes before eating in order to flush the system and prepare digestion. A large glass upon waking in the morning is also optimal for flushing out toxins that have accumulated during the night. A glass of hot water taken right before bed will reduce Kapha and Vata and prevent indigestion. Both the morning glass and the evening glass of water will flush out the urinary tract.

According to Ayurveda, there is a right way to drink water. It should be sipped throughout the day, as opposed to chugged when you’re thirsty. Chances are, when you’re thirsty and you feel the need to drink water, you are probably already dehydrated. Just as Ayurveda teaches us to eat up to 75% of our capacity, we should also only drink 75% of our water capacity. If you drink too much or too fast, the water will just go right through you.

Another way to avoid water just being flushed out or leeching the body of its minerals and nutrients is to add lemon or herbs and spices to it. Because our bodies are made mostly of plasma, it makes sense that water can deplete our minerals and nutrients, especially tap or distilled water. Citrus fruit will enable water to be absorbed more readily. Herbs and spices not only replenish devitalized water, they are also incredibly healing to the body.

boiling_waterBoiled water is the easiest to digest and it is tridoshic. The best practice is to boil water, let it cool and then enjoy. Avoid leaving boiled water to sit overnight as it can become stale and toxic to the body. You may take it one step further and boil water to a ¾ reduction for vatas, ½ for pittas, and ¼ for kaphas. This will help rebalance each dosha.

Spring water or well water is the best type of water to drink. It naturally contains minerals and nutrients. Tap water is chlorinated and devitalized, therefore it is toxic for the body and will aggravate ama. Although distilled water tastes crisp, it is completely devitalized and can deplete prana from the body. It should not be consumed in excess, as it will aggravate Vata and leech minerals and nutrients and dilute plasma.

Vatas are the air dosha, so it’s best for them to add herbs or spices to their water in order to counteract its lightness. The best herbs and spices for Vata are sweet or sour (fruit or vegetable juices, herbal teas). Pitta is the fire dosha, so they should take their water at room temperature or slightly cool, as opposed to hot.

Pitta can add anything sweet, bitter, astringent or herbal to their water.

Kapha is the earth and water dosha, so they should drink warm or hot water, but not in excess. Kapha can add bitter, astringent, or pungent herbs to their water.