Our bodies are made up of between 60-75% water and we wouldn’t survive more than a week without it. As they say – water is life. Most people know it’s important yet many are chronically dehydrated and don’t even realize it. So how do you know if you are drinking enough?
Like many things it depends on the individual and a number of key factors such as body type, climate, level of physical activity and current health. The average daily recommendations are 3 liters for men and 2.2 liters for women but these should be adjusted according to your own lifestyle. Obviously in a hot or humid climate you need to increase your water intake. Pregnant or breastfeeding women also need to drink more. And coffee, tea and alcohol drinkers should drink enough water to counteract the dehydrating effects of these beverages.
Sweating leads to loss of bodily water but also loss of vital minerals. This is where electrolytes come into play and why sports drinks are so popular. But no need to buy these sugar loaded drinks, instead to maximize absorption try adding natural electrolytes like a pinch of rock salt and/or lime to your water. Simple. Drinking large amounts of plain water on its own will likely only result in extra trips to the bathroom and won’t replenish those vital minerals. So for those with more intense yoga practices or very active lifestyles, or if you’re ever ill with fever, vomiting or diarrhea, make sure to add electrolytes. Coconut water is loaded with electrolytes – sooo good after practice, but not always practical of course!
Other things you can add to your water to enhance its flavor and benefits: apple cider vinegar to cleanse your system, fresh mint to cool off, or ginger to warm up – or mix both in hot water with a bit of honey for a delicious natural herbal tea.
Ayurveda recommends never drinking ice-cold water as it’s too shocking to the system and kills your digestive fire. Instead sip warm water or herbal tea and never with food, always between meals, to allow the digestive system to do its work. Upon rising drink a large glass of warm water to counteract loss of fluids during the night. Add lemon, or even a dash of cayenne pepper in winter, to get the system going. If you’re a coffee-first-thing type of person, try having a large glass of water first and another after. Fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables have high water content so simply adding more of these to your diet also helps reach the appropriate water intake.
And just remember – if you’re thirsty it means your cells are already dehydrated! Some of the signs of serious dehydration to watch out for are: headaches, fatigue and constipation. So if you suffer from any of these, drink more water, LOTS more water, and see what happens!