How Much Water Should You Actually Drink? Ayurveda Opinion

“Sir, you have written in your book that drinking water only when one is thirsty is good. But I have read in one book that thirst destroys body mechanism. Feeling thirsty is a sign of body weakness. Grab for water in a day even if you don’t feel thirsty.”
“Many health experts advise that one should drink 8 glasses of water. Is that true? What Ayurveda says about it?”
These are the questions from Maa! From USA and Vivek Tandon.
Let’s analyse.

How Much Water Should We Drink?

There is no truth in thirst theory.
We feel hungry. Does that destroy our body mechanism? Many people do food-less and water-less fasting. Have they caused injury to their bodies? No. So, there is no truth in saying that thirst is a sign of disaster.
We feel hungry, when the body needs food, similarly we feel thirsty when the body needs water. As per Ayurveda, thirst is one of “Vega” – an urge of the body, indicated a need.

Ayurvedic Mantra – Supply only when there is an urge.
According to Ayurveda, thrist, hunger, sleep, sneezing, urination, defecation etc are called as natural urges.
Ayurveda preaches that “Not attending a natural urge, when it is there, and initiating an urge, when it is not there leads to disease. ”
For example, any healthy person should eat when he feels hunger. He should not eat, when there is no hunger.
Similarly, water should be had whenever there is thirst and it should be had, whenever there isn’t any thirst.

How much water should I drink? 
There are some theories that if you drink 8 glasses of water, it will detoxify and flush of all the toxins in the body.
Excess of water drinking is good for skin, as it keeps it well nourished and hydrated.

But this is not true as per Ayurveda! As a co-incidence, researchers also have same opinion

Water is a coolant. Too much of water intake, even when you’re not feeling thirsty will cause indigestion and may cause or worsen a condition called as “Ama”. This is a product of improper digestion and metabolism at the level of digestive track and at the level of body tissues and cells. As per Ayurveda, ‘Ama’ is the precursor for a host of diseases.
Drinking a large quantity of water will cause increase of Kapha and Vata, and decrease of Pitta and digestion power.
Related reading – Greatest secret of Ayurveda

So, how much water to drink? 
Till you feel satiated. Stop it there. Satiation is a signal from your body to stop drinking.

Right time to drink water while taking food is, while taking food. Before food is not very recommended. After food, drink only if you’re feeling thirsty.

Modern research:
Associate Professor Michael Farrell from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute oversaw the work by University of Melbourne PhD student Pascal Saker as part of a collaboration with several Melbourne institutes, regarding this issue about right quantity of water intake. Michael Farrel says – “If we just do what our body demands us to we’ll probably get it right – just drink according to thirst rather than an elaborate schedule,” Associate Professor Farrell said. (Source)

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  1. Very interesting article. Is that the same reason why in old times pregnant women were not allowed to drink too much water?

  2. I have a doubt. I used to suffer from chronic constipation. I had read about the water therapy and started doing the following.
    As soon as I wake up, I drink around 800 ml of water on empty stomach. I then do some mild exercise. Within a week of following this, my constipation got cured and I started getting a proper bowel movement every morning soon after drinking water and doing the exercise. I also gave up drinking tea and coffee. I then found that I started feeling better and my migraines which I used to get atleast once in 10 days also decreased.

    Other than the water therapy in the morning, I drink whenever I feel thirsty. I normally try to drink about a glass of water an hour after every meal. Should I make any changes in my pattern of drinking water? Am I doing anything wrong?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      See, I was referring to drinking water by healthy people. In your case, you are using water for medicinal purpose, for your chronic constipation problem. Since you have found benefit from drinking that amount of water, I suggest you to continue the same.
      I do not think, you are doing any wrong.

  3. “What if, you are feeling thirsty, before taking food?”
    Drink water several minutes before eating.

    ” What if you are feeling hungry and thirsty at the same ?”
    Drink water several minutes before eating or drink 1-2 hours after taking food.

    This is not my opinion, I simply base on a book about healthy lifestyle by specialist of natural medicine from Russia. He said that water weaken digestive juice and one should not drink while eating. I have no knowledge, just I have repeated what I read. Till now I go this way (don’t know if it’s right!) Please, can you explain what Ayurveda says? Thank you doctor for sharing your knowledge. Best regards.

  4. What if, you are feeling thirsty, before taking food?-
    What if you are feeling hungry and thirsty at the same ?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      If you are too much thirsty before food, then take water, wait for 15 – 30 minutes, then take food.
      If you are feeling hungry and thirsty together, then, like you said, food and water can be had together. Or start with food then take water.

  5. Is it okay to drink tea with the food or after meal ? Does it help in digestion in any way? Is there any adverse effect?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      It is ok to drink tea along with food, provided, you have the habit of it. If the quantity of sugar in the tea is very less, then it helps in digestion. I do not think there is any adverse effect with it.
      Tea after meals – If you have the habit of ending the meals with curds / curd rice / ice cream / any coolant food or drink, then it will not be a good idea to take tea after meals.

      • I have heard that drinking tea along with food prevents the absorption of iron, especially in the case of vegetarians. Does Ayurveda have a different opinion?

        • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

          Hi, Tannin in tea reduces the iron absorption. Hence if you are taking iron rich food, better to avoid tea before, along with or after the food.

          • Dear Dr. Hebbar,
            How long after or before intaking tannins should one eat in order not to disrupt digestion nor inhibit nutritional absorption?
            Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!

  6. Just thought to share this with you and may be you could post it further.

  7. Dear Doctor,

    Want to clarify something, drink water should be 15-30 minutes before meal, can take food together with water/soup on same meal (ideal not limited 250cc?), can drink water 2 hours after meal. In fact, majority of health books in bookshop mention foods avoided to drink together. It affects indigestion even chinese medicine. This opposes with ayurveda medication

  8. There are some days where one doesn’t feel thirsty at all for long hours and hence subsequently results in constipation. Any ideas on how to ‘break’ that long period of not drinking water?

  9. Hi Dr,
    i am confused with ayurveda ways of drinking water. There are ayurveda’s that said we should drink water 30 minutes before and 2 hours after. And you said drinking in between meals is best and not before or after. There is also said that give at least 1 hour before drinking. So, is drinking in between and after meals really bad for our digestion? i have digestive problems like bloating, constipated and fluctuance and wanted my digestion to be better by drinking water or any other liquid in correct timing

  10. is it advisable to stop a person from drinking water under the impression that he is drinking more? especially if that person is physically active or do we have to wait for this person’s natural satiation to stop drinking water ?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      I think we will have to leave the decision to the person himself. At the best we can educate him that it is good to drink water only based on thirst.

  11. nice article!

    I think when you are having solid food, it becomes difficult to have food without water.One can take limited amount of water with food as it will help in digestion.

    I used to take large amounts of water mostly together with food(up to 1 litre) but little otherwise. Now i have switched to not having water 1 hour before or after food,i do take a few sips while having food. I am feeling better and my digestion has improved.

    Another observation is that if you avoid very spicy food, green chillies and pickle, which i used to have all the time, you won’t need too much water with food or afterwards.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Nice points and observations.
      Just to make it clear, I am not saying that high amount of water is not needed. I am just saying that, high or low, the quantity of water should be consumed based on one’s thirst level. That is all.

  12. Doctor nice Guidence

  13. Thank you Dr Hebbar for this wonderful article. Traditionally, we had boiled water but now every one wants RO or UV filtered water. Is it a marketing gimmick that most of the microbes are not killed on boiling and is there really heavy metals present in drinking water for which we need RO. What would be your take? What is your personal suggestion?

  14. Dear Dr. Hebbar

    Your article contains very useful information. In contrast to your article, I have recently read about a practice called “Usha Paani Chikitsa” which recommends drinking 1.5 liters of water as soon as one wakes up. The list of diseases this claims to cure is long.

    Is “Usha paani chikitsa” an Ayurvedic practice? I would appreciate your comments on this practice and the claims it makes regarding curing various diseases.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Hi, Usha paani Chikitsa is a derived Ayurvedic treatment concept. I can say this outright, because the term Paani is a Hindi word (and not Sanskrit).
      As a treatment method, if the patient requires lowering of digestive fire (Agni), this Usha Paani treatment can be adopted. However, I do not find its benefits in a healthy person.


    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      As per Ayurveda it is not recommended to drink water if one is not thirsty. But some people are accustomed to drink water early in the morning so as to ease constipation. If that is the case then no problem in drinking water early in the morning. It is fine to drink a glass of lemonade with 3 glasses of water.

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