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Ayurvedic Medicine Origin, History and Principles

Ayurvedic Medicine Origin, History and Principles

Ayurvedic medicine is the oldest medical institution in the world. It began in India and dates back thousands of years. This article explores the origin and history of Ayurvedic medicine.

History

It is believed that the ancient rishis or seers of India received the gift of Ayurveda from their Hindu gods about 5,000 years ago. Essential information for how to achieve a balanced and healthy life was recorded in their sacred texts, the Vedas, specifically the Atharva Veda.

It is said that the Hindu god Brahma, one of the chief triumvirate gods of Hinduism, created Ayurveda. He then transmitted this knowledge to his son, Daksha Prajapati. Daksha passed it down to the twin Vedic gods Ashwini Kumaras. The twin gods became the physicians of the gods, and the Devas of Ayurveda. The twin gods presented Ayurveda to Indra, the king of gods. Indra had three physicians as his disciples, namely Acharya Bharadwaj, Acharya Kashyapa and Aacharya Divodas Dhanvantari. From Bharadwaj’s teaching, his student Agnivesha developed the fundamental Ayurvedic text of internal medicine. Agnivesha’s disciple, Acharya Charak then revised this body of work. This started the tradition of passing down the knowledge of Ayurveda from gods to sages.

The Mahabharata, India’s epic narrative, also tells of the incarnation of Vishnu in the being of Dhanvantari. During the great cosmic churning of the ocean for the celestial nectar of immortality, Dhanvantari emerged, and Vishnu commissioned him to help humanity cure diseases.

The rishis and munis of Indian society dedicated their entire lives to understanding the truth about the universe. They passed down their knowledge and practices to their students, with which the oral tradition continued on for thousands of years. They recorded their discoveries in the holy book of Vedas. One of the most prominent rishis was Bharadwaja who lived around the time of 700 BCE.

What are the Vedas?

The Vedas are the world’s oldest form of literature. They are written in Sanskrit, India’s ancient language. They hold Hinduism’s sacred scriptures, which are said to be records of revelations discovered by ancient seers and sages.

There are four different bodies of the Veda. These are the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, and Atharva Veda. These books detail practices in rituals, worship, hymns, mantras, and ways of life.

Atharva Veda, the latest book to be added to the four Vedas, was compiled in approximately 900 BCE. It is in this body of knowledge that India’s ancient medical practice is comprehensively and systematically outlined.

Ayurvedic Texts

Ayurveda established its own identity as a distinct science after the Vedic period. The Ayurvedic texts are composed of two halves, the Great Three Classics Of Ayurveda and the Lesser Three Classics Of Ayurveda.

The Great Three Classics of Ayurveda consist of Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, and Ashtanga Hridayam Sangraha. The Charaka Samhita is believed to have thrived between the second century BCE and the second century CE. The original texts of this book were thought to be written by Agnivesha. He was one of the disciples of Punarvasu Atreya, an Ayurvedic scholar. Agnivesha and his co-disciples created the Samhitas, drawing from the knowledge they received from Atreya and adding their comprehension on the subject. Agnivesha’s Samhita was of particular interest because of its unique and detailed content. Charaka later annotated Agnivesha's work, and focused more on the diagnosis of a disease and channeled Ayurveda as a means of preventing and curing illnesses. Charaka also detailed the medicinal value and qualities of over 10,000 herbal plants.

Sushruta Samhita explains the concept and practice of surgery in Ayurveda. Modern scholars and researchers suggest that the Sushruta Samhita was created approximately in the middle of the first millennium BCE. It is believed to be authored by Sushruta, one of the students of Divodasa. Sushruta Samhita is composed of 184 chapters and presents 1,120 health conditions, 300 types of operations that require 42 different surgical procedures, 121 various kinds of instruments, and 650 kinds of medicine derived from animals, plants, and minerals.

Ashtanga Hridayam Sangraha was formed by Vagbhata some years after the Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita were written. It mainly focuses on Kayachikitsa, the branch of Ayurveda that specializes in internal medicine. It was in this body of knowledge that the dosha and their sub-parts were presented in detail.

The Lesser Three Classics of Ayurveda consist of the Sharngadhara Samhita, Bhava Prakasha, and Madhava Nidanam. Sharngadhara Samhita was written by Sharngadhara and is valued for how it specified and explained pharmacological formulations utilized in Panchakarma. It is also in this book that the diagnosis of a person’s health status is made through their pulse. Bhava Prakasha was created around the 16th century, which is one of the later Ayurvedic texts. It also deals with Kayachikitsa, and explains the qualities of various food, plants, and animals in respect of their medicinal and health benefits. Madhava Nidanam emerged around 700 CE and is valued for discussing diseases that involve women and children, toxicology, and conditions of the throat, nose, and ears.

Threats to Ayurveda

The practice of Ayurveda became a tremendously influential force for both the eastern and western world. In fact, Ayurvedic texts were translated into Chinese in 400 CE, and Chinese scholars extensively studied Ayurvedic medical principles in 700 CE. Ayurveda also reached the shores of Greece where it influenced the evolution of medicine in the country.

The great age of Ayurveda dwindled when waves of foreign invasion arrived in India. At around 1200 CE, Islamic forces near Turkey and Afghanistan occupied India. During this period, Muslim culture and traditions infiltrated India’s way of life, which also caused the decline of Ayurveda. These Islamic invaders waged anti-Buddhist and anti-Hindu crusades and destroyed most of Indian culture and literature. A combination of Arabic medicine and Ayurveda emerged, which became known as Unani.

The conquest of the British Empire over India in the 15th century further threatened the principles and practice of Ayurveda. During this time, the British rulers prohibited Ayurveda and promoted the practice of Western medicine. Lord McCauley decreed that English methods of medicine were required to be performed in all territories governed by the East India Company.

During the 19th century, a shift in the Indian political landscape and a nationalist movement reawakened people’s interest in Ayurveda. By the dawn of the 20th century, when India achieved independence, India strived to restore Ayurvedic practices. During this time, Ayurveda was acknowledged as medicine, and the government promoted its growth. Numerous colleges, hospitals, and dispensaries were built. Legislation and government policies were also formed to assess Ayurvedic practice and education. Production and sale of Ayurvedic medicine became regulated under the law. Ayurveda continues to thrive in modern society as a means of alternative medicine.

The Concept of Ayurveda

The word Ayurveda is comprised of two Sanskrit terms. Ayur means life, while Veda translates into science or knowledge. Ayurveda has extensively explored natural methods for improving the wellness of the body and mind for millennia. Ayurveda continues to evolve as it responds to the discovery of new diseases.

The main principle of Ayurveda states that the mind and body are connected and the mind has the power to heal and transform a person’s whole being.

In Ayurvedic practices, treatment is specifically created for each person and will largely depend on the state of his or her dosha. In particular, an Ayurvedic practitioner will assess the composition of a person’s dosha and the illnesses he or she is experiencing. It is only then that the Ayurvedic practitioner will recommend a specific treatment for the illness or imbalance. Practitioners of Ayurveda believe that the manifestation of illness is not the same for all people, and that sickness will vary based on how their bodies manifest the symptoms.

Dosha

Three forces are fundamental to the concept of Ayurveda. These are the vata, pitta, and the kapha. They are also known as dosha. They are thought to circulate through the body and control a person’s physiological operations.

Vata is said to be connected to the wind, always mobile and dynamic, and regulates the central nervous system. Pitta is viewed similarly to the sun, which is the source of energy, and governs the digestive system and other biochemical processes. Lastly, kapha controls the balance of the body’s tissue fluids, the growth of cells, and the body’s muscular tone.

These dosha can also affect an individual’s temperament and personality. The concept of prakruti explains an individual’s dosha composition and suggests each person has a combination of the three dosha. These energies actively change in response to a person’s thoughts, actions, food, and environmental factors such as the seasons. Identifying a person’s dosha composition will enable him or her to take measures that will bring their state to balance.

There are three states in which the dosha can manifest. The ideal state is balanced or having achieved equilibrium. This happens when all three dosha are in natural proportion with each other. Another condition is the increased state where one of the dosha are greater or excess in proportion relative to the others. Lastly, the decreased state happens one of the dosha is depleted, reduced, and lesser than the other dosha.

When the dosha become imbalanced, a person's state becomes what is known as vikruti. It can manifest in physiological and behavioral symptoms. For example, a person who has a dominant vata dosha may exhibit the imbalance through dehydration, low energy, feelings of dizziness, anxiety, confusion, and excessive movement and speech.

Ayurveda seeks to maintain the balance of the dosha. Optimum health is claimed to be achieved when these dosha are in perfect harmony with each other. In contrast, negative health status is said to be a result of an imbalance among the dosha. An Ayurvedic practitioner can customize remedies and therapies to heal a person according to his or her needs and bring the dosha into balance.

Vaidya

The vaidya is a person who practices Ayurveda. In Sanskrit, the word translates into physician. A senior practitioner of Ayurveda is known as vaidyaraja (physician king). Royal families had their own vaidya and were called raja vaidya.

To be a reputable vaidya, one would have to study the principles of Ayurvedic medicine for 12 years. Schools and universities offer formal education in Ayurvedic medicine. A person who desires to become a vaidya can enroll for short-term approved training programs or a formal bachelor’s degree. One does not need to be a licensed medical professional to become an Ayurvedic practitioner. However, Ayurvedic practitioners who want to pursue formal medical training must finish an undergraduate degree. Part of Ayurvedic education includes the study of the principles of dosha, yoga techniques, herbal treatments, and healthy dietary practices.

Branches of Ayurveda

There are eight different components in Ayurvedic medicine that encompass the body’s holistic health. These branches further explain various bodily functions, and how to prevent and cure diseases in these areas:

  1. Kayachikitsa (internal medicine): this branch is concerned with the overall treatment of the entire body. It also focuses on the body’s digestive system and metabolism. Procedures can be executed internally and externally, and may include orally taking medicine as prescribed by the Ayurvedic practitioner and applying oils, lotions, and creams.
  2. Baala Chikitsa (treatment for children): this branch is also called Kaumara Bhritya. It focuses on diseases and sickness that manifest in children. It is also concerned with pre and postnatal care. Ayurvedic practitioners keep in mind that children cannot fully explain the problems they are feeling, that each treatment will be different for each child, and that the medicine prescribed should be pleasant to the taste.
  3. Graha Chikitsa (psychiatry): also known as Bhoot Vidya, this branch deals with problems and diseases of the mind. Some of the treatments used under Graha Chikitsa include herbs, recommended diet, yoga, deep breathing, and Mantra Chikitsa which involves chanting mantras.
  4. Urdhyaanga Chikitsa: also known as Shalakaya Tantra, this branch is primarily concerned with health and issues in the upper part of the body, particularly the eyes, ears, nose, and throat.
  5. Shalyaroga Chikitsa (surgery): this branch is mainly concerned with surgical procedures. It describes the use of surgical devices such as scalpels and scissors.
  6. Damstra Chikitsa (toxicology): this branch deals with the study and remedy of toxins and poisons in the body, food, and environment.
  7. Jara Chikitsa (geriatric): this branch is concerned with the care of the elderly. It focuses on the treatment of sickness and diseases brought about by old age. Therapies focus on rejuvenation, longevity, memory, and strength.
  8. Vajjikaran Chikitsa (reproductive health): this involves sexual health and treatment of reproductive problems such as infertility and the insufficiency of essential fluids.

Components of Ayurvedic Treatment

Treatment in Ayurveda involves four components. These are the Bhishak, (physician/surgeon), Rogi (patient), Upasthata (nurse or caregiver), and Dravyam (food/medicine). These components are linked with one another and must possess certain qualities in order for the overall treatment to be effective.

The bhishak must possess vast medical knowledge and experience. He or she must be dexterous, disciplined, and clean. The rogi must be able to describe the complaints he or she is feeling, comply and follow the bhishak’s prescription carefully, and must be tolerant of the procedures. The upasthata must have substantial knowledge and experience in nursing, must be dexterous and compassionate towards the patient. Lastly, the dravyam should be abundant and easily accessible and appropriate to cure the particular disease. In addition, the herbs must be transformable into different forms and doses, and must be prepared through a method which ensures that it retains all of its desired therapeutic characteristics.

Treatments and Remedies in Ayurvedic Medicine

Diagnosis in Ayurveda is conducted in two steps. The first step is to identify the state and type of pathology. This can involve health examinations and other investigations to determine the disease, such as asking questions and assessing the patient. The second step is to determine the form of treatment to be prescribed or conducted. The status of the patient's strength and physical state is also evaluated in formulating the appropriate treatment.

There are five types of treatment in Ayurvedic medicine. They are all based on the five primary senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. All five methods aim to bring balance to the person’s dosha and can be done in any combination as prescribed the practitioner.

Sight

Ayurvedic practitioners believe that the colors a person perceives can affect their mood and the balance of their dosha. Balancing the dosha can be performed through color therapy or chromotherapy. This is best done together with other forms of remedy such as aromatherapy and hydrotherapy. Exposing a person to a particular color can trigger the effects that are needed to balance their dosha.

Some colors that are believed to have healing effects are:

  • red (stimulates circulation and aids those with anemia, fatigue, and exhaustion)
  • yellow (assists in digestion and liver processes and can also work as a decongestant and antibacterial agent)
  • blue (exudes a calming atmosphere and is used to treat inflammation, burns, etc.)

A study was conducted to explore the effects of color therapy on recovering stroke patients and their caregivers. The researchers noted that stroke patients had a level of depression and at the same time their caretakers also suffered from psychological distress. The results showed remarkable difference after color therapy was conducted. The study concluded that the method could be a useful after-treatment therapy to help improve a patient’s psychological state.

Sound

Treatment by sound can be carried out through music, mantras, chanting, toning, and the use of bells, gongs, and bowls. It is believed that vibrations and frequencies can create harmony that are needed to bring balance to the body and the universe. If a cacophony ensues, it will bring disturbance, disease, and discomfort. In practice, one way a person can bring balance and eliminate impurities through sound is to practice Nada Yoga. This can be done externally by focusing on musical notes, the sounds that nature emits, and other non-vocal tones. Internal Nada Yoga involves listening to one’s inner sound. Toning is another method of sound therapy where one can bring balance to a specific region of their body by creating vibrations that resonate with the particular area.

One study proposes that a particular compound is responsible for the physiological and psychological calming effects of sound therapy. Nitric oxide is necessary for the development and function of the auditory system. The researchers explored how nitric oxide mediates the impact of music on the emotion centers of the nervous system. Other research also investigated the effects of vibroacoustic therapy in pain management and the possibility of using it in the nursing environment to help improve patients’ well-being.

Taste

Drawing from the sense of taste, Ayurvedic practitioners can prescribe a diet or a combination of medicinal plants that can balance the patient’s dosha. This composition of food and herbs is tailor-made for the person seeking to bring balance and healing to his or her body and mind.

In Ayurveda, there are six facets of taste. These are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Each flavor has a specific function, such as calming the nerves, increasing the absorption of minerals, and stimulating digestion. Ayurveda believes that all six facets must be incorporated into a meal to achieve optimum health. It also makes sense that all six facets constitute complete dietary nutrition that the body needs.

Touch

Treatment through touch can be administered through massages and oils. Various strokes and pressures can affect the dosha and help bring them into balance. One type of Ayurvedic massage therapy is Marna, which focuses on stimulating the flow of life energy (prana) by kneading different points and channels of the body.

One study examined past evidence of massage therapy for the treatment of back pain. The researchers concluded that massage therapy was indeed effective in alleviating persistent backache. Another study was also conducted to see how massage therapy relieved the symptoms of cancer patients. The research spanned three years and involved over 1,000 patients. The subjects were asked to rate the level of pain they experienced before and after the massage therapy. Results showed that 50% of the symptom scores were reduced. The study indicates that massage therapy is linked to significant improvement in cancer patients’ symptoms.

Smell

Remedy through smell is practiced through the inhalation of different scents and aroma from essential oils and plants. The oil molecules reach the limbic system in the way of nerve impulses and send signals to the nervous system. This stimulating of the limbic system can help improve one's memory.

One of the primary forms of treatment is aromatherapy, and varying types of scents are identified as suitable to bring balance to the dosha. Essential oils are mainly used to stimulate the olfactory system and enhance the mood. A relaxing aromatic bath can also release tension in the body. It can also be executed in conjunction with massage therapy using essential oils.

Several studies have been conducted to explore the effects of aromatherapy. One such study examined the effects of aromatherapy on a person’s mood and alertness in relation to math problems. Results of the study showed that subjects were more relaxed, had lower levels of depressed mood and finished the math problems faster.

Another research study investigated the effects of aromatherapy in managing agitation levels in patients with severe dementia. The research used lemon balm and applied it to the patients’ faces and arms. The study revealed a 35% overall improvement in the patients’ agitation level. It also concluded that the quality of life improved for the patients who received the essential oil treatment.

Panchkarma

Panchkarma focuses on detoxification. The purificatory effects aim to improve bodily functions, known as Samshodhana and Samshamana. Panchkarma treatment can be a combination of five processes - Vamana (Emesis), Virechana (Purgation), Niroohavasti (Decoction enema), Nasya (inhalation of medicine through nostrils), and Anuvasanavasti (oil enema).

Studies have been conducted to determine how Panchkarma affects the health. One study observed the application of Panchkarma to 20 female participants pre-treatment, immediately after the treatment, and three months post-treatment, and assessed their quality of life and psychosocial and behavioral states. Results showed significant improvement in the participants’ health and well-being.

Another study also explored how Panchkarma can be applied in geriatrics. Researchers have noted the increase in life expectancy in India and overseas, and how Panchkarma can respond to geriatric diseases.

It is vital to note that Ayurveda can be harmful if it is applied without the direction and guidance of an expert practitioner. A person who has insufficient knowledge of Ayurveda can wrongly prescribe a particular formula of herbs. Some medicines can also be potentially toxic if too much is prescribed.

Ayurvedic Medicine in Modern Times

The emergence of Western medicine and modern science has threatened Ayurveda’s integrity. However, scientific studies and research that aim to objectively investigate Ayurveda have been conducted in an effort to connect current medicine and Ayurveda and to validate Ayurveda’s healing principles.

One researcher produced an article review aiming to connect Ayurveda with evidence-based scientific approaches in Western medicine. The article describes a practical evaluation of the quality, methodology, and extent of scientific research in Ayurvedic medicine. The article concludes that Ayurveda and experimental evidence-based medicine should be combined, and encourages researchers to work together with innovative initiatives that explore predictive, preventive, and personalized medicine.

There has also been an increase in demand for Ayurvedic herbal medicine due to its phyto-pharmaceutical properties. Western countries have started to acknowledge Ayurveda as a safer alternative compared to synthetic drugs. However, industrialized production of Ayurvedic medicine is facing the challenge of complying with the fundamental principle that treatment should be crafted and customized for each unique patient.

The SRS Clinic, headed by Dr. Raj Sidhu, makes a distinction between modern medicine and Ayurveda. The clinic states that Ayurveda should not be viewed in competition with Western medicine. There are situations where Western medicine is most suitable, and then there are cases where Ayurveda works best. However, the researchers distinguished Ayurveda from modern medicine on the basis of its healthy holistic lifestyle which addresses the causes of illness and not only the symptoms. Ayurveda also does not trigger side effects like those of modern medicine. It nourishes and rejuvenates the body’s tissues instead of weakening and killing them, which is typically the side-effect of pharmacuetical drugs.

In an interview of Dr. Jayarajan Kodikannath, Director of Kerala Ayurveda Academy, he notes that Ayurveda can work in harmony with other medical processes. Each health system, whether ancient or modern, Eastern or Western, has its strengths and limitations. The essential takeaway to consider is how to combine Ayurveda with modern medicine without any contradiction.

Modern Research of Ayurvedic Principles and Application to Illnesses

A study was conducted to identify the parameters of a person’s dosha objectively. The researchers sought to determine that the phenotype of an individual is similar to the determinants to his or her dosha-prakriti. A similar study was also conducted to explore the concept of ayurgenomics. The researchers also explored how the gene EGLN1 could be the molecular counterpart of the tridosha which regulates different phenotypic outcomes. Ayurgenomics can also be used to identify and discover therapeutic approaches for a specific individual.

Another review explores the causes of cancer from the perspective of Ayurveda. The researchers noted that despite the large sum of money invested in cancer research, there have not been any significant breakthroughs in the past 50 years. Cancer also occurs more commonly in Western countries compared to Eastern nations. The researchers aimed to discover how Ayurveda could be integrated with modern medicine for the treatment of cancer.

Further scientific research was conducted to determine the use of Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. The study looked into a particular Ayurvedic herb known as the ashwagandha. In Ayurveda, herbs are classified as brain tonics or rejuvenators, with ashwagandha ranking first as one of the plants commonly used for this treatment.

Another Ayurvedic herbal treatment was a subject of a scientific study. The rejuvenating properties of Rasayana herbs are worth exploring for antioxidant treatment and disease management. The researchers noted that Rasayana herbs encourage significant antioxidant activity, but only a few have been closely examined.

A recent study also aims to explore the development of modern medicine derived from Ayurvedic ingredients. The researchers acknowledge that Ayurvedic medicines cause fewer side effects and suggest that these herbal treatments be incorporated into the production of contemporary medicine. The herbs used in Ayurveda contain many active components, many of which have not yet been extensively studied scientifically.

Other research examined an Ayurvedic approach to maintaining a healthier liver. The researcher noted a variety of Ayurvedic herbs, such as Andrographis Aerial Parts (Andrographis paniculata), Hellebore Root (Picrorhiza kurroa), Ginger Rhizome (Zingiber officinale), and Embelia Fruit (Embelia ribes). These herbs have been traditionally used to cure liver diseases, promote digestion, and enhance metabolism and circulation.

Ayurveda’s Relevance to Modern Society

Ayurveda has long been acknowledged as an integral part of India’s health system and as an important part of its national heritage. Medical systems such as Ayurveda that are rooted in knowledge and availability of medicinal plants and herbs are a significant component of modern alternative medicine, and play an increasingly crucial role in modern cultures. This understanding of medical processes has been passed down from generation to generation and has been modified along the way with the emergence of scientific research.

The emergence of modern medical practices and remedies has also come with a very significant price point. Ayurveda provides an excellent alternative for people who cannot afford the cost demanded by modern medical treatment due to socio-economic factors.

Finding a cure for severe diseases such as AIDS, cancer, and alzheimer’s disease has been a challenge for medical researchers. Not only are treatments costly, but they also pose the risk of side effects caused by medications. Medical researchers are increasingly turning their attention to Ayurveda.

Since Ayurveda is deeply rooted in spirituality and prescribes a holistically healthy lifestyle, there has been an increase in people practicing its principles around the world. Yoga and meditation have become widely popular globally. Ayurveda-based massages are offered in spas and many people benefit from such services. Ayurveda's influence is steadily seeping into societies internationally. Not only does Ayurveda provide health benefits but it also offers a positive economic impact.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized Ayurveda’s relevance and importance to the modern medical field within the context of India during the International Conference on Primary Health Care (also known as the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978). The WHO acknowledged the role of traditional, alternative and complementary systems of medicine in health sectors for both developed and developing countries. With the slogan “Health For All”, WHO outlined the Traditional Medicine Program, which is defined as “the knowledge, skills, and practices of holistic healthcare, recognized and accepted for its role in the maintenance of health and the treatment of diseases. It is based on indigenous theories, beliefs, and experiences that are passed on from generation to generation.” WHO continues to encourage the preservation and promotion of the traditional medicine of each country.

One of the challenges that Ayurveda faces in its development is the standardization of its medicine. For Ayurveda to be fully launched on a global scale, standardization and quality control are essential. Uniformization must begin from the first phase of harvesting raw resources. Ayurvedic manufacturing must also adhere to internationally acceptable standards. However, these standards are mostly relevant to modern pharmaceutical conventions.

This increased interest in Ayurveda has also caused a wave of anxiety for natives in India. Some people think that Ayurveda must not be reproduced on such a global scale as it will become a target of exploitation by multinational companies at the cost of India’s economy and national interest. This fear has also heightened due to new laws affecting patents and other intellectual property. A supply crisis is also threatening various medicinal plants, many species of which are considered rare and vulnerable to extinction.

Medicinal plants and herbs used in Ayurveda are also threatening the conservation of India’s flora. A study was conducted to explore how Ayurveda can support India’s sustainability management practices. Around 1,200 species of herbs and plants are used in Ayurvedic medicine and about 500 are commercially traded. Despite the importance of these medicinal plants, the trade for them remains unorganized, unregulated, and complicated. Entities in India’s central government have intervened to handle issues with medicinal plants, such as the Department of Indian Systems of Medicine (working under the Ministry of Health), the Department of Science and Technology, and the Department of Biotechnology, among others. Part of their operations for conservation include developing bio and agricultural technologies, identifying threatened species, and regulating the export of medicinal herbs.

How to Implement Ayurvedic Practices at Home

An ancient Ayurvedic practice that is easy to begin yourself at home is drinking copper infused water. Water stored in a copper vessel (which is known as tamra jal in Ayurvedic medicine) balances the three dosha in your body (vata, kapha and pitta) by gently infusing the water with the positive health properties of copper. Water stored in a copper vessel will also become natural alkaline water, which helps balance your body’s pH levels. A copper water bottle is a great investment to create your own tamra jal at home and on the go!

Things to Consider Before Subscribing to Ayurveda

Ayurveda’s existence for thousands of years can be viewed as evidence of its efficacy and usefulness. If you are considering Ayurvedic treatments, you should always consult with your healthcare provider. You should ask their advice on how Ayurveda can be used in conjunction with the treatments they prescribe. You should also be careful not to use Ayurveda as a complete replacement for conventional care or to postpone seeking professional medical attention in favor of Ayurvedic treatments. This precaution is especially vital for pregnant women and children. Lastly, you should disclose all of your health practices, both in respect of conventional medicine and Ayurvedic procedures, to allow your healthcare provider to provide safe, coordinated care.

About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Mindful Hydration: A Simple Exercise to Reduce Stress

Mindful Hydration: A Simple Exercise to Reduce Stress

In one of our previous posts, we discussed the importance of proper hydration from an athletic standpoint. While fitness is a necessary component of maintaining a healthy and well-rounded lifestyle, we should not forget that most of us spend a substantial amount of time in the workplace. When we speak about proper hydration, we tend to only focus on the things that we can do at home or at the gym.

Unfortunately, there is very little emphasis put on proper hydration in workplace environments. As a result, employees can end up being dehydrated and stressed out. What tends to be overlooked is that well-hydrated employees often yield better results at work. The good news is that proper hydration is a skill that can be easily learned through practice. The other good news is that proper hydration can also be incorporated with another skill: meditation. In this post, we discuss a new concept of hydration called "mindful hydration", which essentially involves drinking water while in a meditative state.

When to Practice Mindful Hydration

Good mental health and productivity go hand in hand in the workplace. It is easier to maintain a sense of purpose and deal with the ups and downs of your workday if you maintain good mental health. However, we all know that mental health can change with life circumstances. Accordingly, it is important to be able to recognize when something does not feel right and take remedial steps. The earlier you do, the sooner you will be able to bounce back and make the most of your potential.

When can you say that you are distressed at work? Mental distress can manifest itself in many ways. You may notice that you become tired much more easily, that you are making uncharacteristic mistakes at work, or that you are lacking motivation. You may also find it hard to arrive at work on time. In addition, you may find that you are isolating yourself from your colleagues.

Mental distress should not be the end of the road. There are many ways to pull yourself back on track. As it happens, there is a simple exercise you can easily perform at work which involves two simple things: water and meditation.

A 90-Second Exercise to Regain Peace and Calm at Work

The mindful hydration exercise provides the benefits of meditation and hydration in a single action, and it only takes 90 seconds to perform. This workplace skill was developed by Bill Howatt (President of Howatt HR Consulting and Chief Research and Development Officer of Workforce Productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto) and Darren Steeves (Professional Exercise Physiologist and co-founder of Vendura Wellness).

Before starting, you should first self-evaluate your workplace situation. You can complete an assessment to help you determine your stress levels. You may also need to determine your hydration levels in order to maximize the benefits of this exercise. Lastly, you will need to have a water vessel (e.g. glass or bottle) that will serve as your ‘anchor’ for the entire duration of the activity.

The mindful hydration process involves the following three step process:

  1. Find a peaceful place without distractions. Take your vessel (filled with water) with you and sit in a comfortable position. Once you are comfortably seated, take three deep breaths and slowly exhale after each breath. Place your hand on your water vessel on your third breath.
  2. After your third breath, be mindful of the water that you hold and appreciate how calm and peaceful it is. During this moment, free your mind from any thoughts and allow yourself to recognize the ‘now’ moment. It is okay if you find it hard to refocus and clear your mind of any thought – that is normal. These first two steps should take you approximately 30 seconds.
  3. It is now time to practice mindful hydration; take a mouthful of water and let it flow down your throat slowly. Take a deep breath between each mouthful and exhale. Recognize the water and appreciate this peaceful ‘now’ moment. Should you become distracted, simply shift your focus back to the water and nothing more. This last step should take you approximately 60 seconds.

Perform this exercise every day for six weeks. After the sixth week, take the assessment again to measure its impact on your well-being and gauge your improvement. You should see a significant, positive change in both your physical and mental health. You may also see a significant improvement in you hydration levels.

Using a Copper Bottle in Mindful Hydration

A copper bottle is an excellent tool to use in mindful hydration. Our copper bottles are not only beautiful works of art, but excellent for your health as well. In particular, water stored within a copper water bottle will become natural alkaline water which offers a variety of health benefits, including increased energy levels and mental clarity.

About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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The Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting and Proper Hydration

The Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting and Proper Hydration

Humans have been fasting for thousands of years. Humans have been doing so for a variety of reasons: because there was not enough food available, out of religious reasons, and even instinctively when feeling sick. 

So, there is nothing unnatural about fasting. We are well equipped to handle it, and our bodies actually tend to thrive during the periods when we do not eat. There is a long list of health  benefits related to fasting, and scientists have shown time after time that fasting periods can be very beneficial for improving your overall health.

The Science Behind Fasting

Fasting, intermittent or otherwise, tends to have positive effects on your health. First, there is, of course, the obvious weight-loss effect, as we restrict calorie intake and burn fat. This is often one of the reasons why people choose to fast.

But fasting also helps the body fight various diseases and it can improve your well-being even if you are a generally healthy person. This is because when we do not eat for extended periods, the body triggers various metabolic processes which can only happen on an empty stomach. 

The main trigger for these processes is the expended glucose levels in the liver that occur after about eight hours of fasting. Once the liver uses up the glucose it has stored from the food we ingest, the body starts to convert and burn up the glucose that is found in fat cells and muscles.

This is the ‘survival mode’ of the body, which shifts the processes from growth to energy conservation and maintenance. This shift has been observed to have a positive effect on mental health and it prolongs health span.

There are many types of fasting, the most common of which are: 

  • Water fasting, where you drink only water for a set amount of time;
  • Juice fasting, where you drink only fruit or vegetable juice for a certain period;
  • Partial fasting, where you eliminate certain foods or drinks from your diet for some time;
  • Calorie restriction, where you restrict calories for a few days every week; 
  • Alternate-day fasting, where you fast every other day, but eat whatever you want during the non-fasting days. Alternatively, you can eat a maximum of 500 calories on fasting days; and
  • Intermittent fasting, where you alternate between periods where you eat normally and periods where you restrict food intake partially or completely.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a weight-loss approach first popularized in 2012 by Dr. Michael Mosley’s TV documentary Eat, Fast, Live Longer and his book The Fast Diet. Several other authors followed Mosley’s steps, and the trend sparked emerging research-based and anecdotal evidence on its effectiveness.

People started seeing intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight, improve their health, and simplify their lifestyles. And many studies have supported the effectiveness of this method when done properly.

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Just like with other types of fasting, intermittent fasting triggers the same metabolic processes in the body which have been reported to improve overall health and longevity.

Dietitian Rachael Link lists the most common benefits of fasting that can improve your health. Looking at matters from a research-based perspective, she concludes that fasting can help with the following:

Promoting Blood Sugar Control

Fasting decreases insulin resistance, which is a state where the cells stop responding to insulin correctly and, in turn, the blood sugar levels rise. As a result of fasting, your body’s sensitivity to insulin returns to normal levels and it can collect and store glucose more efficiently. 

Some studies also connect fasting to a lowered risk of diabetes. Accordingly, some health practitioners utilize fasting as a means to lower blood sugar levels among diabetic patients. However, you should note that the effects in this regard differ between men and women.

Fighting Chronic Inflammation

Researchers have found that intermittent fasting helps to lower and normalize the levels of immune cells, while also controlling proinflammatory cytokine levels. This is especially useful in the treatment of inflammatory conditions, such as multiple sclerosis.

Improving Heart Health, Blood Pressure, Triglycerides, and Cholesterol Levels

Studies have reported that after several weeks of fasting, the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides decrease significantly. Studies have also observed a drop of blood pressure and even a lowered risk of coronary artery disease.

Boosting Brain Function and Preventing Neurodegenerative Disorders

According to several studies, fasting can also improve the function and structure of the brain. It can increase the generation of nerve cells that improve cognitive function and protect the brain by relieving inflammation. Although the evidence behind these claims is based on animal studies, it is nevertheless a plausible one when it comes to human health.

Helping with Weight Loss

The metabolic boost that the body receives when fasting, as well as the restricted calorie intake, have a direct effect on weight management. During fasting, the levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine increase. This helps the body to release the stored glucose which can be found in fat cells.

Increasing Growth Hormone Levels

The human growth hormone (HGH) plays an important role in the body. “[It’s] involved in growth, metabolism, weight loss, and muscle strength,” explains Link. During fasting, scientists have observed that this hormone’s levels increased considerably, with some cases exhibiting a five-fold increase in HGH production rate.

Delaying Aging and Extending Longevity

Due to the health processes involved in the fasting period, it is expected that fasting can keep your body younger for a longer time. Some animal studies support these expectations, reporting a delayed rate of aging and increased longevity and survival rates.

Intermittent Fasting Methods

Intermittent fasting is all about timing. It works by splitting the day or week into eating and fasting periods. When in the fasting periods, depending on the method, you eat very little or nothing at all.

There are many different variations of this type of fasting, the most popular of which are the following:

  • The 16/8 method: Here you fast 16 hours of the day and eat during the remaining 8 hours. It is the simplest method to follow, and it usually means skipping breakfast and eating between noon and 8PM.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: Rather than making restrictions on a daily basis, this method involves weekly restrictions. It is a 24 hour fast where you do not eat anything, and you can repeat it once or twice a week. In this method, people usually stop eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
  • The 5:2 Diet: This method works on restricting food intake partially. You eat normally for five days and eat only about 500-600 calories for two days.
  • The 6:1 Diet: Similar to the 5:2 diet, this method involves only one day of reduced calorie intake.

When Fasting Becomes Dangerous

Despite the long list of positive effects, fasting is not recommended for every person and situation. For example, people with diabetes or low blood sugar may experience spikes and crashes in their blood sugar levels, which can be very dangerous.

In fact, even healthy people may experience blood sugar drops, especially when they begin fasting. To avoid this, ACE-certified personal trainer Iris Lami suggests taking in more calories from fats during the non-fasting periods. 

Avoid fasting if you are using prescription medications, if you have low blood pressure, or if you have a history of eating disorders. Fasting is also not generally recommended for older adults, adolescents, children, people who are underweight, and women who are trying to conceive, are pregnant, or breastfeeding. 

Regardless of your overall health, it is best to check if you have any underlying health conditions and consult with your doctor, especially if you are planning on fasting for more than 24 hours.

Another risk involved with fasting is improper nutrient intake. As you will be triggering your body’s ‘survival mode,’ it is important to replenish with nutrient-dense foods to maximize the potential health benefits. Go for foods rich in protein, fibers, and healthy fats. Avoid junk food and other high-carb, processed food.

Finally, you need to make sure you stay well-hydrated. Improper hydration during fasting can very easily lead to dehydration and dehydration-related problems. 

The Importance of Hydration During Intermittent Fasting

Do not be surprised if you become dehydrated during intermittent fasting. This is partly because of the fact that around 20-30% of the water we get is from food, and it comes mostly from fruits and vegetables. But another major reason you may become dehydrated is due to the fact that, during fasting, your body will likely be flushing out a lot of water. This can even lead to electrolyte imbalance (which you can combat by simply adding a pinch of Himalayan salt to your water).

Some of the symptoms of dehydration during intermittent fasting may include fatigue, thirst, dry mouth, headaches, slow digestion, and bloating. So, make sure that you stay properly hydrated throughout the day. This will also help you to feel less hungry, especially when you are starting out with intermittent fasting. 

Water is essential for keeping your body cells functioning. It also helps to boost the benefits of intermittent fasting. As the body enters maintenance mode, it starts to cleanse proteins and other structures that have died or become dysfunctional. Without enough water, the body cannot perform the necessary detox efficiently.

This is why you need to take special care to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Most health authorities recommend drinking around 2 liters of fluid every day. However, as Ayurvedic medicine recommends (and many health professionals suggest), we are all born unique, and this means that we all require different amounts of liquids. So, let your thirst guide you for most of the time.

The most important part of the day in relation to drinking water is the morning. Drink at least 500 ml of water after you get up to replenish the lost fluids in your body and boost your body’s metabolic rate. This effect can be enhanced when the water you drink has stronger alkaline properties.

Of course, any liquid intake can contribute to proper hydration (as they all have water), but you should be careful of what you drink during the fasting periods.

What Can You Drink During Intermittent Fasting?

Liquids are important and can be freely taken at any time of the day, regardless of whether you are in the fasting or non-fasting period. And do not worry – it is not only water that counts toward your total fluid intake. However, you should avoid drinks which may raise your glucose levels. 

If you want to sweeten your drinks, stick to stevia, as it does not raise insulin and blood sugar, and it is calorie-free. However, bear in mind that it might trigger a placebo-like insulin response. If you can manage it, the best approach is to simply stay away from sweeteners during the fasting period.

Coffee

Coffee can help to suppress appetite, support fat burning, and reduce insulin sensitivity over time. This makes it a great companion during intermittent fasting, as long as you do not add sugar or exceed the recommended daily dose of 400mg of caffeine.

Herbal Teas

Tea is another great addition to any fast. You can opt for green tea, black tea, oolong tea, or any other tea with antioxidant properties which can further boost the effects of your fast. Try to avoid sweetening it, however.

Apple Cider Vinegar

If you are using apple cider vinegar for its health benefits, there is no reason to stop during fasting. Its potent biological effects, and its ability to lower blood sugar levels, fight cholesterol, and help with weight loss can only add to the effectiveness of the fast. 

Pure Fats

Fats like coconut oil, butter, or even fats from almond milk will not affect your fasting period negatively as long as you keep your calorie intake below 50 calories. Even if you exceed 50 calories, the body should not switch off too many of its current fast-induced processes, but it will likely stop the detox process.

Copper-Infused Water

Copper-infused water can also be a great companion during intermittent fasting. Copper-infused water can supply your body with natural alkaline water, which can help your body thrive. Simply fill up your copper water bottle and leave it overnight. Then, enjoy its benefits with the first sip in the morning.

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular fasting methods as it allows more flexibility in how you will arrange your fasting and non-fasting periods. However, avoid eating before going to bed and make sure you stay properly hydrated. 

About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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The Raw Water Movement and Copper Water Vessels

The Raw Water Movement and Copper Water Vessels

If you have an interest in Ayurveda or other principles of healthy living, you have likely heard about the raw water movement, which many believe stems from the raw food movement. In this article, we discuss raw water’s health benefits and risks and then discuss how using a copper water vessel can permit you to enjoy many of the same benefits of raw water while avoiding the risks.

What is Raw Water and Its Health Benefits?

Raw water, which some people also refer to as live or unprocessed water, is simply water gathered straight from its source, which is generally a water spring. As defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, spring water is a type of water that flows from an underground aquifer and is filtered through rocks before emerging at the surface. Spring water may be fetched directly from the opening of a spring, or through a well. It may be purified, treated, or left in its original state prior to drinking.

In most cases, spring water naturally passes through and becomes filtered by limestone rocks, which are quite soft relative to other types of rocks. The spring water absorbs various minerals as it passes through these soft rocks. Spring water is oftentimes crystal clear, although it may also have a weak tint due to the minerals it has gathered during its journey.

Raw water is said to be naturally alkaline and possesses the right amounts and proportions of essential, health-enhancing elements such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. It is also said that raw water contains probiotics that are otherwise destroyed if the water is subjected to sterilization. Additionally, it is claimed that raw water is free from industrial chemicals and does not undergo any water treatment so as to ensure that its intrinsic minerals and nutrients are not removed.

Raw water is said to have a uniquely smooth feel and is characterized by its mildly sweet flavor profile. Many of raw water’s adherents claim that drinking it in its purest form can bring about a range of health benefits that typical tap or bottled water cannot. Those who drink raw water for an extended period claim that they feel and appear much younger and have fewer joint problems. Moreover, many who drink raw water say that it helped them lose extra pounds and makes them feel less anxious and tired.  

Risks of Drinking Raw Water

Raw water adherents maintain that their water is 100% safe for consumption as it is free from industrial additives and contaminants that arguably make tap or bottled water a less healthy option. Adherents note that various chemicals are applied to tap water to make it drinkable, such as chlorine, ammonia and fluoride. They also argue that treatments such as filtration and exposure to ultraviolet light or ozone gas removes the beneficial minerals and healthful bacteria in raw water.

On the other hand, many water safety experts claim that water only truly becomes potable (i.e. drinkable) if it has been filtered and treated. According to these experts, the real danger lies in the pathogens that get transmitted into the water through natural means, such as droppings from birds and various wild or domesticated animals. Springs, being an open water source, are susceptible to an array of disease-causing bacteria including e. coli, legionella and coliforms, which are the primary culprits for intestinal infections such as dysentery, cholera and diarrhea.

There is also a potential risk, albeit a small risk, of arsenic poisoning if the water has been washed over certain types of rocks that are naturally laced with such substances. Arsenic can enter the water stream either through natural earth deposits or through industrial and agricultural pollution. It is worth noting that simple methods such as boiling and chlorine disinfection are not enough to eliminate such substances from the water; a more sophisticated technology, such as reverse osmosis, ultra-filtration, distillation or ion exchange is necessary if a water source is suspected to be contaminated with arsenic.

Copper Water Vessels

If you want to enjoy many of the benefits of raw water while avoiding the potential risks, you should consider storing your water in a copper water vessel, such as a copper water bottle. When you store water in a copper water bottle, the water naturally and safely absorbs very small amounts of copper. This naturally ionizes the water and causes the water to become natural alkaline water.

As a result, a copper water bottle is essentially a natural alkaline water bottle. In fact, the process for making natural alkaline water in a copper bottle is much like the process by which water becomes natural alkaline water in nature. In nature, water can become alkaline by passing through a mountain spring and absorbing minerals. Water stored in a copper water bottle essentially does the same thing as it rubs against the walls of the copper bottle.

For more information on this subject, read our blog post on the health benefits of natural alkaline water, which also explains the manner in which a copper water bottle can help you create your own natural alkaline water.

In addition, copper has the benefit of being naturally antimicrobial, which means that it helps remove bacteria that may be present in your water. For more information on this subject, read our blog post on avoiding bacterial growth in reusable water bottles, which also explains the manner in which a copper water bottle can help eliminate bacteria in your drinking water.

About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Optimal Hydration and Athletic Recovery

Optimal Hydration and Athletic Recovery

Whatever your fitness regimen is – morning jogs, burning tons of calories at the gym, or hitting a spin class – keeping hydrated is of paramount importance. Not having enough water before, during or after your workout routine can lead to dehydration, which happens when you lose more water than you take in. Dehydration's effects on your body and performance can range from mild to severe.

The loss of water through sweat produced by exercising makes hydration all the more necessary. But what does it take to be properly hydrated?

Proper hydration is not only necessary during exercise, but before and after as well. Water does a lot of things – it provides lubrication to the joints, transports nutrients all over the body to keep you energized, and, most importantly, regulates your body temperature. Proper hydration means longer athletic endurance and a lower chance of feeling negative symptoms like fatigue, cramps or dizziness while working out.

In this post, we discuss the benefits of proper hydration, dehydration cues to look out for, and ways to ensure optimal hydration and athletic recovery before, during, and after a physical activity.

The Benefits of Proper Hydration

Most people are not fully aware of how proper hydration affects athletic performance. Unlike diet plans and adequate sleep, water is often overlooked and underestimated as part of a good fitness program. Below, we discuss why water is just as important as nutrition and sleep, and why you should start practicing proper hydration for optimum health and athletic success.

Reduces Fatigue

Fatigue is the most noticeable sign of dehydration. Dehydration decreases blood volume, which in turn makes it harder for your heart to pump blood throughout your body. This hampers the transport of much needed oxygen and nutrients to various parts of the body, which in turn makes you feel lethargic and reduces your motivation. Although water does not energize the body in the same way that carbohydrates do, it is crucial to transforming those carbohydrates into energy and transporting them to various parts of the body to fuel your workout.

Aids in Weight Loss

Staying properly hydrated is very important if you are serious about losing extra weight. In fact, not getting enough water can actually have the opposite effect; this occurs because a reduction in water intake diminishes the kidneys' effectiveness. When this happens, some of the kidneys' functions are turned over to the liver. However, when the liver takes over, its efficiency to utilize stored fat as usable energy is consequently reduced. Thus, improper or inadequate hydration can actually mean extra weight gain for you.

Helps Repair and Tone Muscles

Exercise makes muscles stronger by breaking them down and rebuilding them through protein synthesis. However, this process requires sufficient hydration to work properly. If there is insufficient hydration, the process will be hampered and will negatively affect muscle recovery. In addition, water is essential to transporting  needed nutrients to the muscle cells, and, more importantly, in maintaining electrolyte balances. Electrolyte imbalance is one of the main reasons why our muscles get weak and cramp.

Signs of Insufficient Hydration

When you lose more water than you drink, your body becomes dehydrated. Aside from thirst and dark urine color, there are other signs to watch for in order to gauge dehydration. These may include dizziness, nausea, muscle cramping, bad breath, dry mouth and lips, dry skin, minimal to no sweating, and faster than normal heartbeat. Severe symptoms on the other hand are confusion, weakness and loss of consciousness.

You may also try some easy skin testing – pinch the skin at the back of your hand for a few seconds, and then let go. If you are well hydrated, the skin should return to its normal position immediately. If it takes longer than that, then you may need to address your hydration levels.

How to Hydrate Before, During and After Physical Activity

Hydration Before Your Workout

Starting exercise in a dehydrated state can seriously affect your energy levels. It might also cause you to get stiff muscles or cramps. It is advisable to drink approximately 8 ounces of fluid 2 to 3 hours prior to exercise. This will also allow your kidneys to process the liquid and give you enough time to empty your bladder before the exercise starts. Your urine should be pale yellow and not clear.

Drink another 5 to 10 ounces of fluid 30 minutes before the physical activity starts. You should only drink water or nutrient-rich fluids such as non-fat milk, fresh juice or a sports drink. If the exercise will last more than 1 hour, it is advisable to drink a carbohydrate-rich drink to prevent fatigue. Water stored in a copper bottle can offer a lot of help too, as copper ions are known to be excellent electrolytes.

Hydration During Your Workout

Proper fluid consumption during exercise depends on how long the exercise will last. The ideal amount to consume is also dependent on your weight before and after exercise. By knowing your weight, you can estimate how much water to consume to remain hydrated throughout your workout.

For example, assume that you only consumed 8 ounces of water during a 60 minute workout. Upon weighing yourself after the workout, you notice a loss of 2 pounds. As a general rule, you need to drink an additional 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound lost, which means that your fluid requirement during your workout was actually in the vicinity of 32 to 48 ounces. A helpful rule of thumb is to drink between 6 to 10 ounces of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout.

If the exercise is intense or might last more than an hour, ordinary water may not be enough. In these cases, it may be helpful to consume a fluid with carbohydrates and electrolytes so as to avoid decreased performance, dehydration and fatigue. This can also help prevent hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

Replenishing electrolytes lost during sweating is also essential. Salt tablets (diluted with water) is always a good solution. Drinking water stored in copper vessels is also a great way to replace electrolytes lost due to sweating.

Hydration After Your Workout

Again, weighing yourself is a helpful way to determine the amount of fluid you need after an exercise session. If your body weight has increased, that means you have overhydrated and need less fluid intake in the next workout.

Thirst is not the best indicator when it comes to measuring dehydration post-exercise. The better way to assess your hydration levels after your workout is to check the colour of your urine. If you have not urinated a few hours after your exercise, or your urine is not pale yellow, you need to hydrate more. It is not advisable to start a new physical activity without ensuring that you have already achieved good hydration levels.

It is also important to replace lost carbohydrates, sodium and electrolytes post-workout. In addition, your fluid consumption should be distributed evenly and continue up to 6 hours after your workout.

Conclusion

The principle of hydration is simple – whatever you put out, you need to put back in. Proper hydration can have a huge impact on your physical and mental performance. Plan ahead and always make sure to hydrate before, during and after your workout. Lastly, keep in mind that you lose more than just water when you sweat, so it would be wise to level up your hydration strategy by also taking into account your electrolyte and carbohydrate levels.

Our handcrafted water bottles are made from 100% pure copper. When water is stored in these copper bottles it absorbs copper ions which can in turn be beneficial in replacing lost electrolytes. Available in two sizes, our water bottles can assist you in staying hydrated before, during, and after physical activity. 

About the Authors: This article was collaboratively written by our team of researchers and writers with the benefit of all available scientific studies and other relevant literature. Our team of researchers and writers include experienced health researchers including a qualified medical professional. Please note that information in this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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