I can’t tell you how many times a client has walked into an Ayurveda consultation with me in her yoga clothes, holding a big, glass or stainless steel water bottle, and at the moment in our discussion where we get to how much liquid she drinks each day, she says, “Not enough,” and takes a big swig.
She thinks she just did the right thing. The problem is that, oftentimes, I find that these same women are actually drinking too much water.
Wait. What? You can drink too much water?
Yes, it turns out that a lot of people are drinking too much water, and many people are drinking water at the wrong times, which sabotages their digestion and metabolism. They think they are being healthy because they are drinking their recommended eight glasses of water, but meanwhile they don’t have as much energy as they’d expect to, their digestion is uncomfortable, and they don’t understand why.
Turns out that, like one’s eating patterns, hydration patterns have a huge impact on one’s energy and metabolism. Too much water dampens the fire element, reduces the air and space elements and can disrupt the earth element. Too little water increases air, space and fire and degenerates the earth element. It’s all about finding the right amount needed, which fluctuates.
So, how does someone drink too much water? Well, some people are so good at obeying health advice that they then go overboard with it and end up developing a whole different problem. I used to be one of those gals. If someone said working out three days a week for 30 minutes was healthy, then I would do six days a week for 60 minutes. I always had to do as well as or better than what was expected of people. Sometimes taking health advice so literally actually causes us to stop paying attention to our bodies.
This same thing happens with water intake. People think they need more. However, each person needs an amount of water that is unique to her own body and life circumstance. In addition, everyone needs to make sure they are drinking water at the right times so they don’t sabotage their digestion and metabolism.
How do you know if you are drinking too much water?
If your pee is always clear, then you might want to look at whether you are drinking too much. A person who is overhydrated will typically rarely ever see yellow pee. Having orange or brown pee is not great either, and can signal either dehydration or other health issues. Occasionally having some yellow is totally fine, and light yellow is probably ideal for a lot of people.
Ayurvedic hydration: Best practices
Consider hydrating with liquids that are appropriate for your dosha – savory soup for vata, coconut water or mint tea for pitta and ginger tea for kapha.
Drink most of your liquids away from meals. Many liquids will dilute your agni – your digestive enzymes – which will cause poor digestion and assimilation, resulting in nutrition-related toxicity. (However, if you are eating something dry, like a scone, then you may need a few sips of water to counterbalance that dryness.)
Consider all the sources of liquid that you are ingesting – fruits, veggies, soups, lattes, etc., and adjust your water intake accordingly.
Pay attention to your level of thirst.
Hydrate more if you sweat more.
Minimize caffeinated drinks and alcohol, unless you are dealing with kapha.
Favor room temperature and avoid very cold, very hot or icy beverages. (If you are into smoothies, then have them at room temp instead.)
Generally avoid carbonated beverages.
Look at your pee every time you go!
Find any of these Ayurvedic tips helpful? If so, share with a friend!