We always hear from celebrities that their health and beauty secret is nothing other than drinking lots of water. (I’m looking at you, Jennifer Aniston!) I used to roll my eyes, but about 4 years ago, I had my own water epiphany. At that time, I lived in a Brooklyn loft that had been converted from a chocolate factory. I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that the building wasn’t originally intended to be residential, but our tap water was absolutely horrible. More often than not, it came out cloudy, and naturally it tasted awful, too. So without even being aware of it, I drank a lot less water than I should. This coincided with a lot of chronic health problems, not to mention lethargy, moodiness, and depression from frequent illness.
After several months like this, I started consciously drinking more water. And lo and behold, my physical ailments disappeared almost right away. I felt immediately healthier and more energetic–but best of all, happier. If you are feeling unwell, tired, or moody for no particular identifiable reason, start drinking more water and see if it makes a difference. Drinking enough water can strengthen your immune system; increase energy; promote weight loss; give better skin and hair; eliminate swelling and bloating; and lift your mood. It’s so much more than just quenching your thirst.
But it’s not just how much you drink–how you drink water can make a huge difference. Here are the 6 tips on how to drink water for health and beauty.
1. Start your day with water: You may have heard that other liquids like tea, coffee, juice, etc, all count toward your daily hydration–but the first liquid you drink in the morning should be water. Drinking water first thing in the morning revs up your metabolism–and for me, gently awakens the spirit for the day.
2. Sip, don’t chug: Drinking water too quickly can make it just pass through your system without being absorbed. If you have to go to the bathroom frequently after drinking water, it’s probably a sign you can slow down. In Ayurveda, it is recommended that you sit down to drink water, just as you would to eat. So give yourself a few minutes of calm, and sip mindfully. You don’t need to be always multitasking! Focusing on a simple task for a few moments allows your mind to recharge.
3. Temperature matters: Ayurveda suggests that you drink lukewarm or warm water, since cold water slows digestion. Around mealtimes and first thing in the morning, make sure you are drinking room temperature water or warmer. Before and after vigorous exercise, go ahead and drink cold water, since it can improve your performance and can increase the duration of your workout–by up to 25%. Cold water also gets absorbed faster than warm water–which is a positive thing post-workout.
4. Don’t drink lots of water right before your meals: It might feel intuitive to drink plenty of water before your meal to prevent overeating. But this dilutes your stomach enzymes and may cause painful indigestion. If you keep drinking throughout the day, you shouldn’t feel too thirsty at mealtime. Drink a small amount of water before and during your meal.
5. Drink pure: Don’t drink out of plastic bottles since that can leach harmful chemicals into your water. Always use glass or stainless steel water bottles. Unfortunately, New York City fluoridates its water (see here for why that matters), but I don’t believe in buying bottled water for environmental reasons. Wherever you live, filter your water (no brainer!).
6. Have fun with your water! Many people find adequate hydration challenging because water is considered boring. I’ve always loved plain old flat water myself, but here are some ways to spice things up and gain some added bonus.
If you are pitta (like me!), you have a lot of fiery energy. Add slices of cucumber and melon to your water to help you cool. Bonus: both add Vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and clears skin.
If you are vatta, your airy nature might be drying and need more hydration. Add lemon slices, which detoxifies and reduces bloating.
If you are kapha (water), encourage warmth in your system by adding ginger or cinnamon to your water. Cinnamon and apple slices in your water will help you feel more optimistic and reduce inflammation!
Don’t know what Ayurvedic type you are? Here’s how to find out.
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling