Better Health through Digestion with an Ayurvedic Diet
Staying Hydrated: An Ayurvedic Approach to the Essence of Life
IntroductionWater is the essence of life. Without it we cannot go on living. In fact, the sheer volume of water on Earth is what makes this planet unique. But how much do we really need? And when is enough simply enough? Proper hydration is essential for health and thus a somewhat controversial topic. Although modern medicine claims that more water is better, the ancient Ayurvedic texts discourage drinking large amounts of water, and recommend a more individualized approach to fluid intake.
Why am I thirsty all the time?
Thirst comes from excess fluid loss, inadequate fluid intake, a high salt diet, fluid accumulation somewhere in the body, or absorption of fluids by foods. For example, dry foods like corn chips, granola bars and dried fruits absorb fluids as they are mixed with saliva and stomach acids. Inflamed tissue and edema are examples of fluid accumulation in the hands, legs, or feet.
Lack of thirst
Sometimes weak digestion and excess stress can prevent us from noticing when we are thirsty. The sensation of thirst also diminishes in adults over fifty years old. If you fit any of these criteria you should pay careful attention to signs of dehydration and take in adequate fluids as necessary.
DehydrationDehydration can be the source of much dis-ease in the body. It can cause poor circulation, poor digestion, and fatigue. There are two types of dehydration, extracellular and intracellular. Extracellular dehydration is a result of the total amount of blood fluids dropping below a certain threshold. This type of dehydration happens outside and independently from the cells and is usually due to lack of fluid intake. Intracellular dehydration occurs when the concentration of sodium in the blood is too high, encouraging water migration out of cells due to osmotic pressure. This type of dehydration can be caused by an excess amount of sodium in the diet and a lack of electrolytes in the body.
Some people are chronically dehydrated no matter how much water they drink. These individuals tend to pee clear urine within a 1/2 hr after drinking a glass of water. The most common causes of chronic dehydration include stress, cold weather, and kidney flushing.
Dehydration, stress & cold weather
Stress and cold temperatures cause the blood vessels to constrict. The constriction of blood vessels is called vasoconstriction. Much as squeezing a balloon raises the air pressure inside the balloon, vasoconstriction causes blood pressure to rise. The kidneys are one of the organs that regulate constant blood pressure. They release water from blood circulation into the urine to compensate for the increase in blood pressure, deflating the baloon. The result is dehydration. Taking steps to de-stress your life and wearing warm, appropriate clothing in the cool months can thus help to prevent dehydration.
Kidney flushing occurs when the kidneys flush toxins from the blood into the urine, resulting in a higher than normal urine output. Often poor digestion can be the source of toxicity. Poorly digested food tends to ferment in the intestines. As bacteria ferment the food, they release toxic metabolic waste products into the gut. The intestines, engineered to absorb nutrients, also absorb some of the toxin into the bloodstream. This is a great reason to keep your digestive tract in peak health. There are also herbs that help prevent kidney flushing and reduce loss of fluids. Try Sensitive Stomach Tea, found at: (http://www.joyfulbelly.com/Ayurveda/products/Sensitive-Stomach-Tea:-Calm-Digestion/199)
What should we drink?
Soups, broths & teas
Like everything we consume, water takes effort to digest. It must be processed until it resembles the blood in salinity, sweetness, and pH. Since water takes effort to digest but does not provide nourishment, Ayurveda recommends nourishing drinks, broths, and teas in the place of water. Some examples are soup stocks, herbal teas, almond smoothies, and fruit juices.
No matter how much water you drink you won't be hydrated until the electrolytes in your body are in balance. Banana smoothies are an easy way to replenish lost electrolytes. Other 'homemade Gatorade" ideas include adding lemon, lime, salt, or ginger to water. In addition to electrolytes, these ingredients enhance the flavor and digestibility of a simple glass of water. When choosing salt to supplement your electrolytes try to stay away from highly refined table salt as it contains nothing but pure sodium. Sea salt is a much better option as it contains the trace minerals needed for a good balance of electrolytes.
Warm water: nature's most powerful home remedy
Warm water is nature's most powerful home remedy and the #1 alleviant of digestive mayhem. It's also the least expensive supplement. Sipping warm water stimulates good digestion and circulation, and cleanses the bowels. It also encourages sweating which cleanses the lymphatic system and improves complexion. In addition, water flushes the urinary tract, ridding the body of unwanted toxins. And if you can't seem to get rid of those annoying hiccups, just try drinking a glass of warm water!
Should I drink ice water?
No. Think about what happens when you put your hand in a picnic cooler to grab a drink. When you pull your hand out it's numb and pale because your blood has retreated from the cold skin. This is another example of vasoconstriction. The blood vessels have become tight and small, cutting off blood supply to prevent heat loss. So drinking ice water with a meal cuts off the blood supply to the digestive tract, sabotaging the stomach in the moment that it needs this blood the most.
Tap water vs bottled water
Many people are concerned about the safety and quality of the water they drink. Yet, almost all municipal water in the United States is of good quality and very drinkable. Nevertheless, you should pay attention to your local water sources. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets the standards for tap water. Additionally, local water suppliers are required to furnish the public with annual water quality reports. The EPA and American Water Works Association (AWWA) are credible organizations that can provide information on the quality of your local water.
When it comes to bottled water, Americans consume more than any other nation. Bottling water is now a 16 billion dollar a year industry. The FDA sets bottled water quality standards based on the EPA standard. However, the FDA does not carefully regulate the bottled water industry. Most commercial bottled water comes from tap water that is filtered to make it taste better. Examples include Pepsi's Aquafina and Coco-Cola's Dasani. High quality bottled water offers benefits, but may be pricey and all those plastic bottles have the potential to cause a lot of waste. So if you choose to drink bottled water, please recycle.
How much water should I drink?This depends on the individual. Blood that is rich in sugars, fats, salt and proteins, typical of a Kapha, also has a lower osmotic pressure that tends to encourage water retention. The blood's thickness also obstructs the kidneys' ability to extract fluids from the blood. Kapha people should thus limit water consumption to 4-6 glasses a day and also employ diuretics such as parsley & celery as regular dietary supplements or herbs such as dandelion or punarnava.
When should I drink water?
An easy routine to prevent dehydration is to drink a glass of water when you wake up, a hr before meals, and before you go to bed. If you tend to get dehydrated, you might also want to drink a glass of water between meals. A soup-based diet also helps to keep a person hydrated.
Water makes me feel full.
Some people feel full after drinking a small quantity of water. This may be due to weak digestion and insufficient acid production in the stomach. Ayurveda says "It takes a fire to get thirsty." To increase digestive capacity, drink a glass of warm water with a wedge of lime or lemon, a pinch of salt, and a slice of ginger.
Can we drink too much water?
Modern medicine, TV ads, and bottled water companies all tout the advantages of adequate hydration. In addition to these nuggets of wisdom, it's important to know when enough is enough. Too much water makes your stomach feel bloated and heavy, and overburdens digestive organs.
Water & DigestionAdequate hydration is the essential ingredient that makes digestion work. Fluids form the backbone of digestion and water provides the medium for all enzymatic activity. Dehydration makes it impossible for your stomach to secrete the two-thirds of a liter of hydrochloric acid it needs to digest a meal.
SourcesYour Body's Many Cries for Water
Thank you, very thorough an easy to read/integrate. Much appreciate all the work that has gone into this.
Woud suggest you make people aware of the necessity of the "bio availability of water" which can only be found in clustered water, no reverse osmosis, or bottled water.
christina richa devi
|© 2012 Joyful Belly, All rights email@example.com||Asheville, North Carolina|