The problem in today's context is: most people are so busy they grumble that they don't have the time to drink enough water - or, for that matter, to go to the loo to pass urine.
Executives, for example, often nitpick that drinking more water just keeps them running to the bathroom - in the midst of a meeting, or when a call comes through for them to meet the boss for a discussion.
The fact is - a free flow of quality drinking water is needed to wash out the molecular garbage that hampers normal healthy functioning. The problem becomes acute when we grow older - because, it is in the nature of our body to become more vatic with age.
Vata, in ayurveda, the ancient system of Indian medicine, is referred to as the first of the three doshas [humours]. It is cited to manage all movement in our physiology - from the delicate, fleeting movement of a thought darting across our mind to the flow of blood through our arteries and veins.
It also suggests an increased unease in our bodily processes - this includes a diet that contains too many dry or raw foods, over-consumption of ice-cold beverages, exposure to cold, an erratic daily routine, frenetic travel, and extreme mental stress. The primary feature of vata is dryness - dryness of skin.
A vatic body also finds it difficult to absorb water. It may sometimes seem as if water is just running right through the body. This does not, of course, exclude the other two types - pitta and kapha - from getting adequate supply of water.
Now, on to the two other ayurvedic doshas. Pitta relates itself to digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism, body temperature, skin tint, the shine in your eye, intellect, and understanding. The small intestine, stomach, sweat glands, blood, fat, eyes, and skin are also the seats of pitta. Kapha provides the fabric for physical structure. It maintains body resistance. It lubricates the joints, provides moisture to the skin; and, helps heal wounds. It also fills the spaces in the body, providing it with biological strength, energy and stability. It not only aids our memory, heart and lung functions, it also plays an important role in maintaining our immune system and function.
What the constitutions signify
In the vata constitution, you have the following portrait: tall, rangy, lean, dry hair and skin, small eyes, irregular teeth, fluctuating appetite, poor stamina, light sleep, anxious countenance, and changeable mood. The pitta element denotes a medium, balanced build, fine straight reddish hair, with baldness. The person has fiery eyes, with brisk appetite, good endurance levels, if not overheated, angry, forceful, invasive, and also impatient. The kapha element borders on heavy build, smooth thick skin, lustrous or coarse hair, large eyes, mouth and teeth, and steady appetite. The person may be averse to activity, and is generally calm and relaxed.
Experts say that optimal daily water intake should ideally be one-and-a-half to two litre, for an average adult. If the surface tension of water is high - e.g., hard water - you would need to take more. Vatic individuals would, of course, need more water. Also, if you live in warm/humid/hot climate, you will need to replenish water lost through moisture and perspiration.
It is in such situations that you need to mould your exact intake of water to fulfil your specific needs. It is okay if you want to have some flexibility - but, listen to your body signal. Heed to your water needs and attend to it promptly.
Listen to the call
Most of us are out of sync with our water status that we often find a glass of water not welcoming - even when we are clearly dehydrated. This is wrong.
We need to do something to bring back our water needs into our consciousness.
- Think aloud when you develop a mild headache, some tension in your jaw, or feel a wee bit edgy or ill-tempered
- Have difficulty in concentration, with your breath getting short and tight
- You feel there is certain dryness in your mouth. This is signal enough for you to drink water. When you pay attention to your body's signal for water, and drink, just see how you feel relaxed, calm, and at ease!
- Break the monotony with fresh juice, if you find drinking just water, on the urge, is monotonous. You could sure add variety, and with good effect - with fresh, fruit juice. You may speak to your therapist to find out what type of vegetable/fruit juice suits your type and requirement best, so that you don't go overboard with any excessive, or needless, plan.
Some people find it rather repulsive to drink water frequently, yes. It ain't a problem. The most ideal thing you'd do to counter the problem is set a time for drinking water. Take 1-2 glasses of water at any given point in time, or drink small amounts at frequent intervals.
A glass of water taken before lunch is a good idea. This could also be incorporated into your daily plan before dinner, and last thing before going to bed.
This is all you need to do as far as your water intake is concerned - and, also, in effect, feel good and fresh all day long.
Don't Postpone the Urge
Give some thought to what happens when you ignore your urge to drink water. The body goes into a sort of alarm mode. This is no inflated statement - when our body's water intake falls below optimal levels, our body, as you have been witness to, begins to experience relative dehydration. Our physiology now goes on high vigilance.
When you fail to respond favourably, or quickly, to the urge, your internal system goes into an emergency state. It will close down all outlets and sources of water loss from the body - just to preserve the fluid in the system. When this happens, the cells also contract in thickness. This forms a barrier that prevents water loss. But, the real problem is - the free movement of molecules is affected. This leads to reduced metabolism and elimination of waste and toxins, mainly because the cells move into a survival state.
Symptoms of water deprivation may include allergic reactions, to highlight one major example.
To illustrate the sequence more graphically -
- Every cell in our body becomes conscious of our dehydrating state. They respond to conserve moisture
- Our lungs release less water vapour in our breath
- Our sweat glands now get into the act and reduce our quantity of perspiration
- Our kidneys retain water - this leads to production of concentrated urine.
It is only when all this happens - in other words, the combined cry of our body's tissues for water do we pay heed to the plea, "I'm thirsty! I need a glass of water."
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