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Proper Hydration

According to Ayurveda, water is the fourth of the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, and earth) found in nature. It has the qualities of being cool, moist, heavy, flowing, smooth, soft, and gross. It represents fluidity and cohesiveness and supplies one of the most basic necessities of existence.

Ayurveda understands water in the body in five distinct ways, known as the five types of the Kapha dosha:

* Water protects the mouth and the actions of chewing while breaking down what we ingest.

* It protects the stomach against acids and aids with digestion.

* It stabilizes the flow of neurological impulses and protects the nerves and brain.

* It protects the joints from the friction of motion.

* It protects the respiratory system from the drying movement of breath.

Our bodies are 70 percent water, and as we go about our day, we use up that water, so it is essential to stay hydrated. Water contains essential minerals, including calcium, magnesium, sodium, copper, selenium, and potassium. These minerals, along with necessary salts (chloride, bicarbonate, and phosphates), make up our electrolyte balance. This balance protects all biochemical reactions in the body, filling the spaces between cells and forming structures of larger molecules such as protein and glycogen. Water is also required for digestion, absorption, transportation, and the elimination of waste products.

Human requirements for water are related to metabolic needs and are highly variable and depend on individual metabolism. Solid foods contribute approximately 20 percent of total water intake, and the remainder comes from the intake of water and beverages. The average person loses three to four liters of fluid each day from sweat and bowel movements. Additionally, the water vapor from breathing is responsible for one to two liters per day. Exercise can increase the rate of water loss.

As your fluids drop, it causes blood volume and blood pressure to drop, which can cause the concentration of salt to increase, and your brain triggers thirst. Swelling, inflammation, and water retention could also make you drink more water, and consuming salty or dry foods can also deplete fluid levels. Dehydration causes poor circulation, poor digestion, and fatigue.

Many medical practitioners believe a realistic rule of thumb is to consume minimally half your body weight (in ounces) of water or medicinal/herbal teas (not caffeinated or alcoholic beverages) per day.

A Few Tips:

* Drinking a cup or two of warm water on awakening will start the elimination process.

* Consuming ice and cold water can slow down digestion.

* A cup of room temperature water before meals supports the secretions of digestive enzymes.

* Sips of water (room temperature) while eating moisturizes and benefits churning and food breakdown.

* Drinking water at the end of a meal is considered toxic because it dilutes enzymes for digestion.

* You can replenish electrolytes by adding a pinch of Himalayan or mineral salt and a splash of lemon or lime juice to your water.

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