Provided by Kendall Taylor of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in their March 2016 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.
How many times have you been told to drink more water? Your mom tells you. Your doctor tells you. You hear about the importance of hydration at the gym or reading yet another article touting the benefits of water.
Many of us increase our water intake for a few weeks but still admit, “I don’t drink enough water,” noting our dry lips or clogged pores. Eventually, even our month-long sprint of drinking more water ends because we can’t stand peeing all the time.
Drink more water: the advice people love to give and then don’t do.
The “Drink More Water” Advice Ain’t Working, So Here’s a Better Way
Let’s have a broader conversation on how to drink water. The following is the definitive Ayurvedic guide on how to drink water properly.
The majority of our body is water. This water is stored both inside and outside cells to dissolve nutrients, carry waste, regulate body temperature, send brain messages, and lubricate all our moving parts. You need plenty of water to function and feel good. However, you lose a lot of water everyday through breathing, sweat (even if you don’t work out), urine, and bowel movements. Your only choice for perfect health is to replenish your body with ample water.
How do you know you might need more water? Here are 5 tell-tale signs:
1. Dryness: dry lips, skin, eyes, and hair
2. Inflammation: skin rashes and burns, clogged pores leading to acne, red eyes
3. Urine color: the moment you wake up your pee is dark yellow instead of light yellow (not clear)
4. Constipation: if you don’t have a bowel movement for 1 full day or longer
5. Sweat: little to no sweat
Ayurveda encourages us to drink water so that we absorb it. Many people chug water and within 20 minutes pee a clear liquid out, which means their body did not absorb the water. I used to get really fed up with this because anytime I increased my water intake, I found myself spending so much time peeing out water that I stopped drinking more liquids.
While increasing water intake does involve taking a few more trips to the bathroom (in a well-functioning body, people may pee every 3 hours), you should not be peeing out water immediately after drinking it. Thanks to Ayurveda, I learned how to absorb water effectively.
Here are 6 steps to help your body absorb water effectively:
Step 1. Drink lukewarm or hot water instead of ice cold water.
Ice cold water freezes the enzymes and fluids in your gut so your body can’t properly digest food, which creates toxic buildup. In addition, the blood vessels constrict so the toxic buildup gets stuck inside you instead of draining through your lymph (cleansing) system. Blood vessel constriction also prevents blood from circulating where it needs to be, restricting your organs from getting nutrients when they need them. Lukewarm or hot water gently encourages the natural flow of the lymph system and over time, you have less buildup. This rule is extremely important for women during menstruation or when wanting to conceive because ice cold water reduces the circulation and energy needed to prepare the reproductive organs.
Bottom line: ice cold water makes your body work harder than it needs to work.
Step 2. Add these 4 ingredients to water to increase absorption.
These ingredients bind to water molecules to make delivery into the body faster:
1. Add a teaspoon of unrefined mineral salt (not ordinary table salt but Celtic Sea Salt, Utah’s Redmond Real Salt or Pink Himalayan Salt) to every 32-ounce container of water.
2. Add a squeeze of lemon to your water.
3. Soak chia seeds for a few hours and add them to your water.
4. Add ginger slices to your water.
Want added flavor or sweetness? Soak fruit in your water to infuse it with a refreshing taste. Kiwi- Raspberry- Peach | Lemon -Cucumber -Mint | Strawberry -Basil | Pineapple-Lemon-Mint. Create your own combination. All it takes is fresh fruit and pitcher of water.
Step 3. Drink one tall glass (16oz) of warm water the moment you wake up.
Your body worked all night to package up yesterday’s waste. This is why you often have to use the bathroom first thing in the morning. To make sure the body is clean, flush your body with warm water immediately after waking up. Don’t wait until 15, 20, or 30 minutes after waking up, because then you’d just be holding on to waste instead of eliminating it. Some of this morning water might not be absorbed, but the point of drinking so much water at once is to stimulate the proper bowel movement.
To make it easy, I keep an electric teakettle in my bedroom that I fill at night and turn on when I wake up. I add mineral salt to my morning glass of water. In summer, I drink water at room temperature. You can slightly increase your early morning water intake if you’re not having a morning bowel movement. You can also decrease your intake to 8oz if you experience any abdominal pain with 16oz.
Step 4. Set a goal to drink half your body weight in ounces each day.
Here’s a real life example. I weigh 120 pounds. Half my body weight is 60 pounds, so my goal would be to drink 60 ounces of water a day. I drink 16 ounces of water as soon as I wake up, so that means I have 44 ounces left to drink during the day. If you’re outside often or very physically active, increase your water intake until you’re quenched. Heavyset people might have intercellular water retention due to years of improper diet. Talk to your doctor if you are retaining too much water.
Step 5. Find a water bottle or container and calculate how many servings you need a day to meet your goal from Step 4.
The low cost, practical way? I repurposed a 32-ounce glass juice container to be my water bottle. I drink about 2 jugs a day. When I’m on the go, I pour water from this jug into a smaller container so I still have an accurate measure when I come back.
Step 6. During the day, sip water but don’t chug – especially with meals.
When I first started drinking more water, I’d chug water at night because I kept falling short of my 2-jugs-a-day goal. I was happy I reached my goal but then I’d grumpily have to wake up during the night to pee. I never absorbed the water I chugged.
I would rather you calmly sip your warm water and fall slightly short of the goal than chug like a frat boy. Most importantly, don’t chug water with meals because you are killing the digestive fire (agni) that’s trying to process your food. Based on the same principle, you also don’t want to chug water right after a meal. Instead, 30 minutes before a meal, drink a glass of water. This hydrates the stomach’s buffering lining so it’s able to produce the sufficient stomach acid you need to digest difficult foods (dairy, eggs, nuts, etc). There’s a fine balance. Don’t drink a whole glass of water right before a meal, or you might dilute your stomach acid.
“Water before a meal is nectar. It replenishes fluids and encourages juicy digestive organs. Small sips during a meal is honey. It helps turn the food into a sauce. Water after a meal is poison because it dilutes stomach acids.” – Dr. Vasant Lad
The following is an ideal water intake guide for the average person:
Daily Water Target
• Wake up: Drink two 8-ounce glasses of water (this will flush your body)
• Breakfast: Sip water with breakfast as needed
• Between breakfast and lunch: Drink at least 1 glass of water
• 30-45 minutes before lunch: Drink 1 glass of water over 15 minutes
• Lunch: Sip water with lunch as needed
• Between lunch and dinner: Drink at least 1 glass of water
• 30-45 minutes before dinner: Drink 1 glass of water over 15 minutes
• Dinner: Sip water with dinner as needed
• Between dinner and bedtime: Drink at least 1 glass of water (if you drink a lot of water too close to bedtime, you might wake up in the night to pee)
• Sit down when you drink water. You eat sitting down to focus your body on digesting food. Give your body the same peace when you sip water.
Exercise Water Target
• 15-30 minutes before exercise: Drink 1 glass of water
• During exercise: Sip water
• After exercise: Drink 1 glass of water
Final Step: As you form the proper water habits, look for signs of hydration in your body.
In 1 month, you will see results. Check your hands and lips to see if they are less dry. Look at your face to see if blemishes are starting to clear. Assess the overall shine of your hair and skin. You might start to notice you feel less tired in the morning and have more energy to sustain you throughout the day. Welcome to the glorious world of hydration!
Happy hydrating, my thirsty friends!
Photo via Flickr
Spice up your life with these herbs, roots, and plants that benefit your health as much as they do your taste buds: From keeping your heart healthy and your arteries clear to reducing pain and warding off cancer, these everyday flavors will add a healthy punch to all your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
Photo via liza31337 @ FlickrAdd some heat to your dish with chili peppers — and choose versions that are especially spicy to get the maximum amount of capsaicin. Capsacin, the ingredient that provides the plants with their spice, also has medical benefits that include pain relief, heart health, fighting prostate cancer, and stopping ulcers. If you’re ready to take on the hottest peppers out there, try habanero or Scotch bonnet; for less of a jolt, try jalapenos, Spanish pimentos, or cherry peppers.
Photo via FotoosVanRobin @ FlickrYou already love cinnamon in pumpkin pie, cinnamon rolls, raisin bread, and cinnamon sugar topping, but there are healthier ways to reap the benefits of this power spice: Add it to your coffee, sprinkle it on oatmeal, stir it into peanut butter for celery sticks, and dash on sweet potatoes or carrots. While it brings out (and warms up) the flavors in the foods it is paired with, cinnamon will also help keep your arteries healthy, manage blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol.
Photo via FotoosVanRobin @ FlickrBrightly-colored turmeric comes from the same family of spices as ginger — which means both plants can reduce inflammation in arthritis patients (and may block the formation of some cancers). Try it in a curry chicken dish from Planet Green’s Kelly Rossiter — and then add black pepper, since that tabletop staple is believed to help the body absorb turmeric for maximum effect.
Photo via Joylitas @ FlickrIt’s easy to ignore that little piece of parsley that always arrives next to your main dish, especially when it seems little more than a decoration (even if the bright flavor does fight bad breath).
But this early spring green has been connected to health since the days of the Romans, and today its supporters believe the herb helps pass kidney stones, battle deafness, and prevent buildup in the arteries.
Photo via Annie Mueller@ Flickr
When you shake extra oregano onto your slice at the local pizza joint you aren’t just adding some classic Italian flavor to your pepperoni-and-mushroom: Oregano is a major source of thymol and carvacol — two antibacterial agents that fight off infection — and has quadruple the antioxidants of blueberries. Like thyme, it’s easy to grow at home and adds traditional flavor to any dish whether you use it fresh or dried.
Photo víafelipe_gabaldon @ Flickr
Love garlic or hate it, you can’t deny that it’s good for you: As a staple of natural remedies and traditional medicine, garlic has anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral effects, and some studies show that it can stop blood clots from forming in your arteries. It’s also an easy spice to add into your diet: Try it in pasta sauce, on pizza, roasted with other vegetables, or finely chopped in homemade spreads.
Photo via Erutuon @ Flickr
The strong flavor of thyme pairs well with comfort food — think wintry soups, stews, and roasts — and it’s easy to grow at home with full sun and well-drained soil, so you can use it fresh or dried all year-round.
But the health benefits go beyond warm soup on a cold night: The herb’s oil is antiseptic and antibacterial, and recent studies show thyme can kill MRSA infections, which are resistant to other antibiotics.
By Caitlin Smith
Smoothies can be a great breakfast or snack choice when you need to up your intake of fruits, veggies and protein. While not all of these smoothies are the right health food options for all people, they do provide great alternatives to carb-laden meals, fatty desserts and diets free of fruits and vegetables. Here are our picks for 100 delicious and easy-to-make smoothies.
Vegans and those who don’t like the taste or digestive effects of regular milk can still indulge in tasty smoothie snacks.
Another choice for vegans, soft and silken tofu smoothies are also delicious and easy to make.
If you’re trying to cut back on carbs but still want to enjoy a fruity dessert, choose one of these smoothies.
Smoothies with lots of protein can reduce your cravings and help you boost your metabolism. If you work out a lot, they can also keep you energized for much longer.
Whether you’re a bodybuilder or someone who wants to strengthen your immune system, you can drink a whey protein smoothie to get more protein and antioxidants.
Sugar-Free and Smoothies for Diabetics
When sugar is a problem, try making a sugar-free or low-sugar smoothie for dessert.
Use ingredients like rice milk, almond milk, soy yogurt and non-dairy ice cream if you’re lactose intolerant or just don’t like regular milk.
Ease digestion when you make a smoothie recipe that uses ginger.
When you need to boost your energy for a workout or a long day, try out one of these recipes.
Get even more vitamins in your diet with these smoothie recipes that are packed with Vitamin C and more.
Anti-stress and Anti-aging
Smoothies that contain antioxidants like blueberries and strawberries are great for reducing stress and even the signs of aging.
Instead of gulping down pancakes or a couple bowls of sugary cereal, whip up one of these fruity smoothies.
Not all smoothies are calorie-laden. These choices have as little as 80-90 calories per serving.
If you have a hard time eating enough vegetables, try drinking them instead.
The benefits of green tea are widely accepted these days, and to give yourself an extra serving a day, add it to your smoothie.
From avocado and raspberry to a Thanksgiving-inspired treat, check out our final list of 100 delicious smoothies.