How much water do I really need?

My daughter turned 13 two weeks ago. Last week at the breakfast table, she held my large measuring cup filled with water and a red drinking straw.

“So, this Youtuber says I should drink 2 litres of water a day. I tried it but I had to stop because I thought I was going to throw up.”

Me: “Oh dear. This is why we don’t just follow what Youtubers say. Drinking that much water all at once can be dangerous.”

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We proceeded to talk about the ‘right’ amount of water and how that varies from person to person. In my personal training days, we were all about the 2-3 litres of water per day. Ayurveda, however, doesn’t take such a hard line on water. In fact, Ayurveda’s root text, the Charaka Samhita, doesn’t pay much attention to water.

So let’s get into that. How much water do you need?

The answer will depend upon your unique constitution, your level of exercise or activity, the season, and your stage of life (hot flashes have me increasing my water intake.) But even that, the hot flashes, I find are best alleviated with cooling fresh juicy fruits like blueberries and apples, as well as cucumbers. 

Too much water dilutes your electrolytes and flushes nutrients from the body. We often work hard to get those nutrients from our food. We don’t want to waste them. Not enough water can also impact our energy, tissues and sleep quality.

How much is enough?

Listen to your body. Urine is a good indicator of hydration. Here’s a fun chart from Healthline:

Ayurveda suggests taking a small amount of liquid with your meals, enough to soften the food without dampening your digestive fire.

When you exercise, or on hot days, try taking small amounts of water every 15-30 minutes, rather than guzzling a large amount at once. 

When drinking between meals, drink hot/warm water with sliced fresh ginger or lemon depending on your needs (if you have dominant pitta dosha, add mint or lime to room temp water instead). Increase juicy fruits and veggies. 

Ensure you are getting sufficient oils in your diet.

Healthy fats are important and are included in the water element of the doshas. If you suffer from constipation or conditions of dryness, try increasing your intake of healthy fats and oils.

Depending on your personal preferences and health issues, include quality unrefined olive, sesame, nut or coconut oils. Enjoy an organic butter or ghee. Quality fish oil is an option.

Consume healthy fats at each meal not just once a day.

This more balanced approach to hydration includes brain and joint health, skin and tissue condition, as well as keeping those nutrients where they belong… in your body, not the toilet.

So, thank you, random Youtuber, for bringing this issue to our attention.

This information is intended to inform, not diagnose or treat specific health conditions. Always consult your health care practitioner prior to dietary or exercise changes.

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