Water Of Life

Words: Dr Ambika P NAYAK

Water is the most indispensable, life-sustaining element for everything in nature — including us. It is the most basic need for survival. It is rightly said that water is the world’s first and foremost medicine. About 60 per cent, or more, of our body is made of water. Every physiological function in our body uses water; it is also eliminated from the body through various functional cycles, viz., respiration, perspiration, digestion, excretion, etc.

Quantity Required

Now, the big question. What is the ideal quantity of water should one drink? Well, the quantity of water required by the body varies from person to person. There can’t be a single measure applicable to all.

This also differs on the basis of the seasons, age, body type, physical activities, profession, pathology, if any, and so on. On an average, a kid ought to drink about one litre of water; for adults, it should be approximately 2-3 litre per day. Too much of a good thing, as you’d know, is sometimes too bad. If our water intake exceeds a certain level, it could cause salt imbalance — leading to fatigue, or drowsiness. Less, or inadequate, intake can, likewise, cause fatigue, dryness of the body parts, and accumulation of toxins in our cells.

Hot, Or Cold Water

One should not drink hot water. Lukewarm to warm, if the body so desires, due to indigestion, colds, or for losing weight, should be all right. The ideal temperature of drinking water should be room temperature.

When to drink water with regard to a meal — before, during, or after — is another common question.

Chanakya’s Niti Shastra explains that drinking water during a meal is as good as an elixir. The popular belief is that water shouldn’t be taken along with food — this notion is, thus, negated.

Food is the primary source of all essential macro- and micro-nutrients and sipping water during a meal assists in proper mixing and digestion of food, while releasing everything that is required for proper nourishment. The quantity of water is proportional to the kind of food you eat — for hard, and dry, food like roti, poha, bread, including pizza etc., the water required, along with a meal, may be more than that required for soft foods, like dal chawal, or khichdi.

Water, taken at the end of a meal, is similar to ‘poison.’ There can be adverse effects in the long run, although they may not be immediate, as excess water dilutes our digestive juices, leading to delayed digestion and also absorption.

Ayurveda Perspective 

It is rightly said that therapeutics is the study of the curative action of any agent. Ayurveda suggests that whatever be the dravya that exists on earth is laden with a certain therapeutic advantage. In other words, it avers that there is nothing that is unusable in the universe. Put simply, Ayurveda is keyed to the essence of holistic healing through certain agents, viz., water, foods etc. The emphasis is obvious: Ayurveda recommends that a thoughtful intake of water not only prevents diseases; it also helps in treating them.

Water balances tridosha and triguna. It helps in the process of excretion [trimala]. Ayurveda also underlines certain guidelines to maintaining balance [hormesis]. It prescribes boiled water, also infusions, according to the doshas, in order to augment our metabolism. Besides, there are indications and contraindications for water intake vis-à-vis certain conditions, subject to one’s dosha, agni and other factors.

The inference is obvious: water has a therapeutic effect on one’s health. It helps to shrink the burden of disease; it also arms us in the appropriate upkeep of our health and well-being.

Dr AMBIKA P NAYAK, MD [Ayurveda], is Founder & Managing Director of Ayurvedeeyam, a speciality Ayurveda Clinic in Bengaluru. Her passion for the ancient, yet ‘completest’ natural medical system, and professional clinical skills are keyed to raising awareness for Ayurveda as a first choice of treatment for illness and healthy living, just as much as her axiom, Svasthasya svāsthya rakṣaṇaṃ — the age-old, fundamental principle of Ayurveda. Dr Nayak, who has presented papers and participated in national and international symposia, is also a strong advocate of panchakarma, thanks to its fully holistic and proven therapeutic efficacy in the treatment and prevention of illness, or disease. She is also Assistant Editor [Ayurveda] @ ThinkWellness360.com

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