Summer is already here and the heat wave is hitting us pretty hard. Amidst all the uneasiness, can you guess what’s the one good thing about summer? It makes us consume lots of water!
This colorless, odorless liquid, which many people don’t even give a thought about, is the most important thing our body needs. In fact, almost 70% of our body is made up of water! According to medical daily, the slightest imbalance in the water levels can steer us towards some serious health issues.
In today’s culture, we have a habit of drinking coke, coffee or even beer, instead of water, to hydrate ourselves when we feel thirsty. But do they actually serve the purpose?
The truth is- nothing can replace plain simple water! Drinking coffee or carbonated drinks means more acid and more sugar in our bodies. Sugar is highly acidic and that’s why natural alternatives for sugar like jaggery and coconut sugar are becoming popular these days.
So, why don’t we drink enough water? The main reason behind this is that we are not aware of what happens to our bodies when we don’t give it enough water. So let’s dive right into the subject.
What happens to the body when you don’t drink enough water?
In today’s busy world, water is the first thing to be taken for granted.
Before we go through the effects of dehydration, it’s important that we first understand how our thirst mechanism works.
Thirst is our basic instinct to drink. If you give a simple search on Wikipedia for thirst, you will learn that thirst arises as a result of fluid imbalance i.e, when the amount of fluid in the body is low or when certain osmolyte concentration in the body, such as salt, is high.
So as you see, thirst is a signal for lack of fluids in the body. Thirst is the signal that you’re already dehydrated. However, the first sign from your body for water comes in the form of fatigue. Often, if you feel lethargic or tired, it means you need more water.
Your body loses water in the form of sweat, urine and other means as you go through the day. Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluids than you consume. When this happens;
- Your skin becomes dry
- Your kidneys are under strain. Excretion process is adversely affected.
- Your body becomes slower, fatigued.
- Your organ functions get affected. This hampers proper supply of electrolytes to the brain.
- Your mental clarity, vision, and memory are affected. Negative moods and anxiety start to kick in due to increased levels of cortisol.
Though thirst is our natural instinct for keeping us hydrated, It is not a dependable one. According to a Mayo clinic facts sheet, thirst is not a dependable indicator of how much water we need because it’s easy to ignore when we’re busy. Also, we feel less thirsty during the cooler months which doesn’t mean our bodies don’t need water.
Then, what is a good metric you can use to stay hydrated? Check your urine! If you notice that your urine is dark yellow in color and less in quantity, then it means that you need to drink water immediately. Your urine should normally be clear or light yellow in color.
Water and Weight Loss
You must have already come across a lot of sources that say water helps in weight loss. IT IS TRUE!
But, when it comes to weight loss, we need to first set our expectations right- only depending on water is not enough for significant weight loss. Our intention here is to keep you informed on how water assists in weight loss.
You cannot solely depend on water, but, drinking enough water is a key factor in reaching your weight loss goals. Hope you got the subtle difference. No matter what weight loss diet you follow, drinking enough water is definitely a part of it.
According to studies demonstrated on Healthline, drinking 0.5 liters of water is proven to increase our metabolic rates by a certain percentage. This effect continues for about an hour. So, if you drink the right amount of water every day and control your diet, you can accelerate the process of weight loss.
Another study shows that, when we drink water, our body burns more calories at rest as a result of heating the ingested water. Owing to this theory, some dieticians claim that drinking cold water increases the number of calories burnt at rest because the body has to do more work in heating it. Though it might be true, the advice is counter-intuitive as drinking cold water every day is not good for your health. Always go for room temperature or slightly warm water.
These studies also deduce that the increase in metabolism and calories burnt are considerably small. But when proper hydration is combined with physical activity and a healthy diet, the effects are significant.
A study conducted on 2 groups of dieters showed that the group which drank 2 glasses of water (approximately 400 ml) before a meal lost more weight than the group which didn’t. Though the exact reason is not clear, the results can’t be ignored.
Drinking water first thing in the morning after you wake up, kick-starts your metabolism and assists in weight loss. Adding fresh lemon juice to a glass of water helps in alkalizing the body and helps remove fat.
As per world-renowned strategist and health expert Tony Robbins, you must drink more water to lose weight! When you are dehydrated, your body holds on to the water it already has. Most people think that drinking water will make them bloated. But, in reality, the counter-intuitive approach is true.
If you keep your body well hydrated, it lets go of excess water. So, drink more water to keep your body at your optimal weight.
So, what is the right amount of water to drink every day?
The popular 8X8 rule which recommends drinking water from 8-ounce glasses 8 times a day, is good advice but is not applicable to a universal audience. Water requirements are different for different people depending on their body size and activity levels.
The general rule to drink the right amount of water every day is to consume at least half the amount of your body weight, in ounces. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, you need to consume at least 60 ounces of water per day. 60 ounces would be about 1.8 liters per day.
However, if you consume 60 ounces and still feel thirsty, go for that additional glass of water, because your body knows what it needs.
If you have the habit of drinking less water, here are some tips that’ll help you develop a habit of being hydrated always;
- While eating lunch, ensure that you consume lots of salads. Especially when you are eating chicken or fish, salads are a must on your plate. And don’t be satisfied with a small serving. 70% of your diet has to be water-rich foods.
- Consume lots of fruits and green veggies. Fruits and vegetables mostly contain water. They’ll help you stay hydrated and also are a better alternative to junk food to satisfy your appetite when you feel hungry.
- If you have a smartphone, then there should be no excuse to avoid water. Apps like Daily Water and Hydro Coach help to track your water intake and are designed for the very purpose of helping you stay hydrated.
- If you crave for sugary drinks, consume them with more water and ice.
- Whenever you are working, keep a jug filled with water on your table, so that you are reminded of it and don’t have to leave your table when you feel thirsty.
- Try drinking infused water. With all the goodies in it, it will change the way you perceive water. (We will discuss more on this as we proceed)
How to Drink Water the Right Way
We have touched upon how important water is to our bodies and what’s the right amount of water for us. But do we drink water the right way?
According to Vagbhata, one of the most influential classical writers of Ayurveda, drinking water the right way can protect you from over a hundred diseases! Isn’t that fascinating?
The following timeless principles are derived from Vagbhata’s writings and can help you forever keep the doctor away;
- The best time to drink water is on empty stomach in the morning. Drink as much as you can. Ayurveda also suggests that you do so in a sitting position. Drinking water in a standing position impairs digestion.
- Water should be consumed slowly, sip by sip. Many people have the habit of gulping water quickly out of a bottle. Drinking water sip by sip takes more saliva into your stomach and balances the PH levels. Drinking water hastily causes acidity. In certain aspects, we are just like animals. If you carefully observe how animals drink water, you’ll understand the essence of what’s being discussed here.
- Drink water 1 hr after meals. When water is consumed along with meals, it puts out the digestive fire in our stomach and negatively affects our digestive process. As a result, the food gets rotten leading to acidity and ulcers in the stomach. This is an invitation for disease. However, If you feel the need to drink water during meals it should be in small amounts, ideally not more than 3 sips.
- The right way to drink water before a meal is 30 to 60 minutes prior to the meal.
These tips may feel weird to you if you are new to the concept. But, Ayurveda is not the only source that illustrates these principles. The Japanese Water Therapy, which is highly popular today, involves a similar approach and is widely used to treat diseases like arthritis, blood pressure problems and many more.
Also following the above-mentioned regimen for drinking water, over the long term, will help you release the unnecessary weight you may be carrying and will help you to maintain your ideal body weight.
A doctor’s experience with water
If you search the internet, you will find hundreds of testimonials from people from all walks of life cured by water therapy.
When we discuss water, one eminent name that pops up is Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj! He is highly popular for his book “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water”.
Dr. Batman, as he’s popularly called, was once held captive as a political prisoner in Iran. One day, when he was in prison, a very high official there suddenly fell ill because of peptic ulcers. He was writhing in pain and to worsen the problem, there were no medications available in the prison.
Dr. Batman, went on to cure this official with the only cure available to him- water! He administered hourly doses of water to him, which helped in flushing out all the acids and toxins accumulated in his body. Within 2 hours the official was free from pain and was completely recovered in a matter of 24hrs. If you are surprised, this is not the end.
Over the next 3 years, Dr. Batman went on to cure more than three thousand prisoners with all kinds of diseases, using water. Astonishing, isn’t it?
Water is too important to be taken for granted.
Though it sounds complicated, infused water simply means water infused with natural flavors. You can supercharge your water by immersing fruits, vegetables or herbs in it and feel the goodness with each sip.
If you are adding fruits or veggies, it’s important to slice them up so that the nutrients are properly absorbed by the water. Similarly, if you’re adding herbs, make sure you crush them.
Adding cooling agents like cucumber or watermelon to water makes it a great summer drink. If you’re not in the mood to prepare juice, just slice some fruits and add them to your water. As simple as that!
Remember our discussion on lemon juice? If drinking water with lemon juice makes you puke, just cut a slice of lemon and add it to a glass of warm water. You can get similar benefits with greater ease.
There are over a hundred different infused water recipes you can try. Feel free to experiment and choose the ones you like.
You can also use an infuser water bottle and can carry your personalized nutrient-rich water everywhere you go throughout the day!
I sincerely hope that this article helped you reconsider how you drink water and make hydration your top priority.
Though we have mainly stressed upon drinking more water, there is a limit to the amount of water your body can accept. Don’t gulp down gallons of water every day as more water can also cause harm.
Forcing your body to drink more water than needed can cause Hyponatremia- a condition caused due to lack of vital minerals like sodium and magnesium in the body. Too much water causes your body to lose its alkalinity as it dilutes important minerals essential for its functioning.
However, there is no need to be alarmed. Follow the tips illustrated in this article. Treat water as your high priority and inculcate healthy drinking habits. If your goal is to live to be hundred years old, then water therapy should be your most important priority.