Despite getting annoyed by the increase in the number of urgent trips to the bathroom,…
…most of us are aware of how important water is for our bodies to work and, hence, stay hydrated. The rest of us know, too, but are probably trying to refrain ourselves from making those extra trips.
An important point to consider should be when is the best time to drink water, you know, to get the most out of it.
Before getting into that, let’s get you on the same page.
What is just right? When is it too little? Can it be too much?
So, on an average, the recommended daily water intake is 2.5 to 3.7 liters for men and 2-2.7 liters for women.
The body loses approximately 2.5 liters of water per day through sweat, urine, feces, and exhaled air. Your body is intrinsically capable of producing and, hence, compensating for 0.3 liter of lost water. About another 0.7 liter is compensated for through your food intake (Yes, food contains water, too). So, what you really need to be worried about is making up for that extra 1.5 liters (in the least) so that your body can at least run on neutral. Following the recommend intake values (which are higher than 1.5 liters) guarantees you better health.
The Ayurvedic rule is: Fill 50% of your stomach with food, 25% with water, and leave 25% empty for digestive juices to churn around and carry out the digestion process.
Coming to the real question, when should you drink water…
When You Wake Up
Before playing any outdoor sport, you need to warm up your muscles to avoid injury.
Drinking water (particularly warm water) as soon as you wake up is like a warm up for your body. This is also a good practice for breakfast skippers.
Ayurveda supports this habit, too.
Ushapana or drinking water first thing in the morning (preferably before sunrise)…
…cleanses your body, boosts your immunity, and kindles your digestive fire (agni) for the rest of the day.
Ushapana is also preferably done before you brush your teeth as overnight accumulated saliva is believed to have medicinal properties. Also, you will avoid drinking fluoride from toothpaste you did not rinse away.
Before, During, And After Your Meals
Drinking water before a meal will prevent overeating, will clear your mouth of any remnant food particles from your last meal, tobacco, or alcohol, and will sting your taste buds alert.
However, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that drinking water 30 minutes before a meal will aid in digestion.
Drinking a few sips of water while eating stimulates saliva production, helping in the physical and chemical breakdown of food. Moistened food (basically balls of mush) can be broken down and transported easily down your digestive tract.
After a meal, drinking water will help wash down any remaining food. It will also help soften your stools, preventing constipation.
On the flipside, Ayurveda advises against this.
The reasoning is that water will dilute digestive juices and slow down the digestion process. (There is no scientific evidence to support this claim as yet.)
Unlike the Western school of thought that unhesitatingly tells you (with the stern spectacles and pointed finger) to drink water immediately after a meal, Ayurveda attempts to test your patience…
…and asks you to wait at least 45 minutes before you do so.
Why? Because you don’t want to douse your digestive fire (agni) if you want proper digestion to take place. Water will only prolong the digestion process (think diminished digestive fire) and cause problems like gas and acidity.
For the same reason, Ayurveda also suggests not to drink water at least 45 minutes before a meal or during a meal. To wash down your food while eating, one or two sips are permitted.
This doesn’t mean you need to die of thirst.
If you feel thirsty within the 45 minutes after a meal, fruit juices after breakfast, buttermilk after lunch, and milk after dinner are advised. Though these drinks are mostly water, their properties are different from water and they aid in the digestion process rather than impeding it.
Drink hot or lukewarm water to facilitate digestion and, as an added perk, burn fat. This should be avoided in hot weather.
It is always a good idea to keep a water bottle handy and keep taking a couple of swigs from it between meals.
More often than not you may mistake hunger for thirst. So, if you find your mind drifting off to hot dogs with French fries just an hour after breakfast, see if a glass of water can do the trick.
Before, During, And After Workouts
It is only but common sense to hydrate yourself when losing excess water through sweat.
But be warned. As already mentioned, overhydration or hyponatremia is a thing. Professional athletes, marathon runners, and people indulging in high intensity workouts need to be particularly careful. The excess water in your system decreases the effective like sodium concentration in the blood. This in turn causes cells to swell and kidneys to feel overburdened. All in all—not good news.
Before bedtime And A Shower
The claims that drinking water before bedtime prevents strokes and before a shower lowers blood pressure are merely myths. Let’s withhold that discussion for another time.
It’s not rocket science.
All you have to do is be attentive—attentive to your thirst signals. Drink water when you’re thirsty. It’s as simple as that.
Also, keep a look out for chapped lips, a dry throat, fatigue, and dark yellow urine. They’re indicating your body needs more water.
Get used to saying this…