Benefits of Staying Hydrated
Of the five balancing elements in Ayurveda - earth, fire, water, air and space - water may be the most tangible in how we notice its effect on our day-to-day health. Especially during the summer months when the air is warm and dry, our tendency towards dehydration and water-imbalance is at its highest. Staying hydrated is essential for our body to function at its best, and the incredible benefits of simply drinking water each day make a huge difference for our overall health and wellbeing.
The Many Ways Water Nourishes Us
Every cell in our body requires water (and the oxygen that water carries) to function and create our cellular energy.
Hydrating keeps us mentally alert! If you’re feeling foggy mentally sluggish, make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day to support circulation and blood flow to your brain.
Our brains are made up of around 78% water and our bodies are around 55-60% water! The symptoms of dehydration can become noticeable when we lose between 1-2% of our body’s water and continue to deteriorate until we replenish!
Water lubricates joints and all of the tissues throughout our body.
Supports the elimination of waste through our natural detoxification processes, and is essential for proper immune function and kidney health.
Minerals in water help to maintain our electrolyte balance.
Water aids in our temperature regulation. Sweating cools us down when we are overheated.
Helps to maintain our external moisture balance including our skin, hair and eyes.
Adequate water intake is essential for maintaining healthy digestion and bowel function.
How much water do we really need?
We need to consume enough water so that our input matches our output. Naturally, this is different for each person, and there are plenty of ways that we lose water throughout the day. We lose water through sweating, breathing, urination, bowel movements, bleeding, tears, and (for women) through lactation. Your daily output may look very different from your friends and family depending on your activities or where you live (i.e - very dry, hot climates require a higher water intake, while cooler or more humid climates may require less).
As a general rule of thumb, we should aim to consume half of our body weight (in ounces) of water each day, not to exceed 100 ounces for women, and 120 ounces for men. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, that’s 80 ounces of water throughout the day.
We get water into our body through drinking (obviously!), consuming water rich foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, soups, smoothies and broths, and our body even generates a small amount of water as a byproduct of physiologic reactions! Pay attention to your daily activities, your energy throughout the day, and your thirst cues to determine the right amount of water for you. Your water needs often vary with the seasons, too.
Signs of Dehydration
Our body will give us several signals when we need to consume more water. Many of these subtle signals are things we feel every day and often ignore as just common, pesky symptoms, but really they are our body gently reminding us to drink more water. Here are a few of the common signs of dehydration:
Low energy and fatigue
Feeling thirsty or dry mouth.
Dry, itchy or flaky skin
Water and Your Dosha
Vata dosha tends to be the most dry constitution, and when out of balance present with symptoms of dryness such as constipation, dry and itchy skin, stiff joints and muscles, and lethargy. Vata’s love moisture rich and oily foods throughout the seasons in order to maintain their balance of internal and external moisture! And they also love moisture rich skin rituals such as oil massages, warm baths, and soothing topical facial sprays when they’re feeling too hot.
Pitta dosha is the most hot and changeable constitution, and pitta qualities are responsible for controlling many of our body’s temperature regulation. Thus, pitta’s - when out of balance - can quickly become overheated and dehydrated by burning through moisture and water quickly. It is important for pitta’s to regularly consume liquids throughout the day, and not ignore the signals of thirst or tough-it-out when they’re experiencing inflammation in their muscles, digestion or skin.
Kapha dosha is the most cool and moist constitution, and often has no problem staying internally and externally hydrated. Kapha’s cohesive nature gives stability to the body – helping to hold cells together and form muscles, fat and bone; while its fluid qualities lubricate the white matter in the brain, the joints, the lungs and heart, as well as the protective lining of the stomach. Our kapha nature helps to keep the fluidity of body, mind and spirit, with water being one of it’s primary balancing elements.
If you are consistently feeling any of the above signals, enjoy a glass of water or herbal tea, and keep these handy throughout the day! Water is one of the most simple solutions to maintaining our health. Remember to check in with yourself everyday to make sure your basic needs are met to maintain your own balance. Are you drinking water? Are you getting sleep and rest? Are you consuming foods that help you to feel vibrant and strong? These are your foundational check-ins, and the building blocks for longevity and daily wellbeing.
Author: Lindsay Kluge
Herbal Educator, Pukka Herbs US
Lindsay is a clinical herbalist and nutritionist with a passion for bringing plants and people together. Through her work as a teacher and practitioner, she is passionate about helping people feel empowered in their health through community organic gardening, health education, and connection with nature. She has worked in clinical practiced with naturopathic doctors and MD’s alike, bridging the gap between alternative and conventional medicine to bring comprehensive, research based botanical medicine to her local communities. With an undergraduate degree in horticulture and a Masters in herbal medicine, plants are Lindsay's love language. She currently serves as the herbal educator for Pukka Herbs in the US, and teaches clinical nutrition at her alma mater, the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is a guest lecturer at herbal medicine schools and conferences throughout the US.
MS Herbal Medicine
Years of Experience:
10+ years as a clinical herbalist and nutritionist practitioner