We all know it: We’re not drinking enough water. Staying well hydrated can help us feel more energetic, get a dewy complexion, and even stave off the munchies. If you’re anything like me, though, you’re best hydrated immediately following the purchase of a sweet new water bottle—or the release of a new LaCroix flavor.
Most of the time, I suddenly realize late in the day that I’m actually thirsty and then spend the rest of the evening gulping down water in an attempt to catch up. This is not optimal—and not just because it often leads to 4 a.m. wake-up calls from my bladder.
Cultivating balance is one of the fundamental principles of Ayurvedic medicine. This means bringing the five elements—earth, water, fire, air, and space—into proper alignment in the body, says Ayurvedic consultant Medha Garud of the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, North Carolina. When it comes to water, we want to think of our bodies as a flowing river, not a stagnant pond, or, in my case, a roaring waterfall.
“Water is cleansing,” says Garud. “River water is flowing, and it is pure because the water is constantly moving all impurities away. If we are drinking little by little all day long we moving all those impurities from our bodies outside. All your systems get nourished.”
When it comes to water, we want to think of our bodies as a flowing river.
Garud suggests that we all aim to drink about a half cup of water every hour, a little more in hot or dry climates, which sounds very doable. “In the summer, you can drink a little more: one cup an hour or so,” she says. “Sip slowly throughout day.”
The concept of digestive fire, the heat and energy that moves food through the body, is fundamental in Ayurveda. Again, the body must be in balance, and too much fire or too little can disrupt the digestive process. Our consumption of water can support our digestive fire, says Garud.
“Our digestive fire when we wake up is very gentle,” she explains. “Our fire is also just waking up. In the middle of the day it is very strong and again in the evening it goes down again.” She suggests starting the day with warm water with lemon or lime squeezed into it, and avoiding cold water and ice in beverages altogether, as they can dampen the digestive fire and make it sluggish. “In general ice cold water is not good [according to Ayurveda]; we should be drinking room temperature or lukewarm water,” says Garud. “It’s cleansing to to the digestive system and encourages more circulation.”
A cup of hot water or a non-stimulating tea, like chamomile, before going to bed is also a good idea, says Garud. And, she cautions, beverages do not go with food. “Never drink water with you meal, or right before or after,” says Garud. “It dilutes the digestive juices and you won’t need it if you’re sipping throughout day.”
Keep reading for a super-simple recipe to make your water even more refreshing.
“Better Than Water” Water
If you find plain water hard to drink, or want to add an alkalizing component to your hydration routine, try this recipe from Garud for an extra refreshing day. Just don’t gulp it down all at once.
1 liter of room temperature water
1 organic lemon, cut in half
1 organic lime, cut in half
1 organic cucumber, cut into in three pieces
1. Add the citrus and cucumber to the water in a glass container and leave overnight, unrefrigerated. The next day, drink slowly throughout day.