An Ayurvedic Perspective on How Much Water Intake is Good for Health
Among most of us, it is a common notion that drinking lots of water is the solution to many health issues. However, Ayurveda opposes this popular belief. Our ancient Ayurvedic texts surprisingly direct us to drink minimum possible water to remain healthy. Again, there are certain diseases where the popular concept of having an excess quantity of water intake has been contradicted.
Drinking lots of water or abundant quantity of water intake as almost become one- solution-to-all-diseases sort of predictable suggestion. Whether someone has to fix the digestion, detox the body, lose weight or someone is having a burning sensation while passing urine – drinking lots of water is perceived as the best solution.
When we try to understand as to how drinking water in abundance help in these conditions, the reasoning which surfaces up is something completely beyond our understanding. For instance, for all the problems related to digestion such as constipation, gas formation, acidity and even Irritated Bowel Syndrome (IBS), the cause is our sluggish digestion power. Even the modern science says that for all these conditions the reason is decreased secretion of digestive enzymes.
Hence, one can get rid of these conditions by improving the Jatharagni i.e. digestive fire. In such a scenario, how would the excessive intake of water, which is the worst opponent of fire, increases digestive fire and how would it help in fixing the problems, is totally beyond rationality. Is it not possible that this excess quantity of water intake by us to resolve our digestive issues actually make these conditions chronic which eventually become incurable? Same is the case for other conditions as well. We need to deep dive into the matter.
In Ayurveda, water has been termed ELIXIR when taken correctly and it works as poison when taken in excess
Kevalam Saushadham Pakwam aamamushnam hitam cha tat I
Sameekshya Maatrayaa yuktam amritam visham anyatha II
Inference: Whether water has to be taken on its own or after medicating it with suitable herbs or taken after boiling it or taken in cold form or taken as just warm water, deciding this on the basis of state of body and when taken in right quantity at right time & in right way, then only water acts like Elixir else it acts like Poison if used otherwise.
There is almost opposite opinion about water intake when the existing trends are compared with that of the directions of our ancient Ayurvedic texts. Ayurveda was written many years ago with the primary intention of maintaining health by correct diet and correct lifestyle. For the same reason, every dietary item including water has been explained in detail in Ayurvedic texts.
Ayurvedic Perspective: Water – the Less intake the Better
Even a healthy person should drink minimum required quantity of water in all seasons except for Autumn and Summer, where one can drink an adequate quantity of water.
Drinking excess of water (even when thirsty) leads to increase in Kapha and Pitta related diseases. Particularly, among persons suffering from fever, it can result in increasing of Ama (state of indigestion), excessive thirst, excessive sleep, cough, stupor, flatulence, feeling of heaviness in the body, poor digestion nausea, excessive salivation, difficulty in breathing and rhinitis.
Broadly speaking, a person should consume 1.5 to 2 litres of liquids every day. When we say liquid, it means the cumulative volume of liquid items such as water, juice, milk, tea, coffee and soup that we intake.
To put it precisely, if a person is passing out a minimum of 500ml & in ideal conditions i.e. 1 litre of clear urine in 24 hours, then it is supposed that his/her body is getting an adequate amount of liquids.
Here are some correct ways of water intake as per Ayurveda-
For Intestinal Cleansing:
Consume 250 ml or a glass full of warm water, sip by sip on empty stomach in the morning.
For Helping in Digestive Process:
A) Water with Meal: Drink about a cup (100-150ml) of warm water sip by sip while having the meal.
B) After Meals: Consume a sip or two of warm water every hour or two, even without feeling thirsty.
On Feeling Thirsty:
Drink maximum 150 ml (about a cup) of water, patiently. It is best to drink lukewarm water or boiled water kept for less than 24 hours.
Excess of water intake complicates or leads to Indigestion, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Kidney Diseases, among others.
Let’s think from a different perspective as well. If one-fourth of the population of India comes out from the myth of having excess water intake and reduce just 1 litre of water intake, then there will be saving of about 500 crores litres of clean drinkable water everyday.
The article is based on a book titled “Water – Elixir or Poison?”, by Dr. Parmeshwar Arora, MD-Sr. Consultant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.