The world of healthcare is full of extremely bad advice. Everywhere you turn you hear things — WRONG things — repeated over and over that then become the new mantra. At that point the supposed ‘health recommendation’ quite unfortunately becomes the conventional wisdom. The advice eventually becomes accepted by almost everyone, except by those who are initiated into the true higher understanding surrounding the health matter of concern.
We address the following highly consequential health advice because of how many holistic health professionals and alternative health practitioners are now repeating such unsound and “bad advice”.
Drinking 8 glasses of water a day is essential for optimum health. (Debunked)
We take serious issue with this 8 glasses of water per day recommendation issuing from the mouths of so many. Why? What are the facts concerning this wellness suggestion?
Let’s consult Ayurveda in order to ferret out the truth:
The strength of the digestive fire (known as Agni in Ayurveda) reigns supreme in determining the overall physical health of the human organism. When this fire is diminished, through improper diet and many other causes, the body begins its descent into a state of compromised health.
The more the digestive fire or agni is put out (or diminished), the more ama builds up throughout the body. In Ayurveda, ama is the name given to the aggregate toxic byproducts produced within the human body, especially those which result when the process of digesting food is weakened and undermined. The uninterrupted progression of ama buildup is known to lead to all sorts of disease, illness, imbalances and general low quality of life. In fact, it is known to be the cause of virtually all disease.
The ancients and their schools of philosophy and healing often speak volumes in just a few words of wisdom. As follows:
Socrates Speaks With Koan Tongue
Question: When the house is burning down, what does the fireman use to put the fire out?
Question: According to the “Overcoming Cycle” of Wu Xing (sometimes translated as “5 Elements”) what quenches fire?
Question: When it’s real hot outside during the summer, where do people go to seek relief?
Answer: Bodies of water (e.g. ocean, gulf, lake, pond, aquifer, river, stream, creek, brook, waterhole, pool, fire hydrant, etc.)
Question: Fire hydrants allow for the flow of what through the fire hose?
Now that we have that established, perhaps we ought to ask ourselves why anyone would want to pour so much water on their precious digestive fire … every day, of every year, of their entire life? Why does American society, in particular, aggressively promote this health-destroying daily ritual? Why do so many want to put out their digestive fire with such a vengeance?
Isn’t that what you see in every single restaurant in America … every day of the week … every meal of the day? YIKES ! ! !
The waitress/waiter is reflexively incredulous that you do not want water — freezing ice water — with your meal. They’re even more incredulous when you flatly the refuse ice water* — an even greater assault to the proper functioning of your entire digestive system. Can you imagine what freezing, cold ice water* will due to your stomach?!?! Before, during and right after mealtime? This represents perhaps one of the greatest health misunderstandings throughout Western civilization because so many blindly subscribe to this destructive habitual practice.
*“Yes!”, drinking ice water is much worse than drinking too much room temperature water with your meal. If you want to truly tax the normal functioning of your digestive processes, drinking ice water is the way to do it.
If you would like to see a list of diseases which WILL emerge from a chronically diminished digestive fire just open up the Merck Manual. Now, bear in mind that the ongoing practice of drinking copious amounts of water with meals, or frequently throughout the course of the day, is the quickest, most thorough way of dousing this extremely important digestive capacity.
For the many of you who read this new twist with amazement or doubt, please understand that you were acculturated to drink, drink, drink … all day long, and some even throughout the night? You have been habituated by the customs and conventions of others who also learnt that the wrong way was the right way.
And, of course, there are also all the beverage companies throughout the land, each competing for a little space in that stomach of yours. As an entire society, we are now reflexive in getting a drink no matter what the time, the place, or the occasion. Without a glass in our hand we feel naked, just as a cigarette smoker might feel out of place in a bar without their smoke in hand.
These many cultural causes and implications are way beyond the scope of this health coaching blog, however. All we care to do is completely dispel the notion that 8 glasses of water a day is necessary for the normal functioning and optimal health of the human body. We have not talked about all the detrimental repercussions to the physical state of wellness which such a practice will cause. There are many, they are very severe, and we will take them up in a future coaching session.
As a steady reminder to yourself, the connection that you continually want to make is between ama* and agni** (aka digestive fire). The less intensely the agni burns (aka the digestive fire which digests your food), the more ama will build up — in all the wrong places — over days, and months and years.
*“Ama originates from improperly digested toxic particles that clog the channels in your body. Some of these channels are physical and include the intestines, lymphatic system, arteries and veins, capillaries, and genitourinary tract. Others are nonphysical channels called nadis through which your energy flows. Ama toxicity accumulates wherever there is a weakness in the body, and this will result in disease” ~ Ayurveda For You
**“Agni or the “digestive fire,” is one of the most important principles in the ancient science of ayurveda. It refers broadly to our ability to process all aspects of life, including food, experiences, memories, and sensory impressions. Agni is responsible for absorbing the nutrients and essential elements the body needs while burning off waste products (agni is the root of the English word “ignite”).” ~ The Chopra Center
A little common sense understanding:
Water by its very nature is cooling, even at room temperature. Coolness and cold by there very nature will cause the impacted part of the body to contract. For example, we put an ice pack on a swollen knee to reduce the swelling.
Conversely, when we throw a LOT of ice water (Have you seen the size of the cups in a typical fast food restaurant these days?!) down the gullet, we cause the digestive environment to contract. We greatly curtail the normal production of HCL (hydrochloric acid) in the stomach and profoundly affect the secretion of a whole range of digestive enzymes further down the digestive tract. The obvious effects will be the incomplete or abruptly short-circuited digestive process, which will then produce an unwanted share of undigested proteins and fats (as well as improperly metabolized toxins) that the body will have to rid itself of.
This ongoing state of affairs can only serve to put relentless pressure on the other tissues, organs and organ systems of the body. The gastro-intestinal tract and the liver will especially take on a lot of the toxic burden which will then reflex all over the body. This is positively something that you don’t want to occur, especially given the toxin overload that many already experience due to unhealthy lifestyle (especially diet and medication intake); unclean home, car or office environment; and polluted state of the local living environment (e.g. living next to a biomass incinerator or nuclear power plant or hospital incinerator or coal-fired power plant).
So, to recap, we want to be very conscious of not doing a daily dousing of our digestive fire. Although you think you may feel just fine by doing so, you are not fine. Your body is experiencing a slow motion degradation of its internal environment. Because many of the more insidious symptoms are subclinical, your doctor cannot see them, nor is he trained to find them. Therefore the best remedy to this situation is the ounce of prevention approach. Clearly, it will help you avoid MANY pounds of cure.
May you enjoy excellent health,
“Eat only when hungry; drink only when thirsty.”
2nd Best Recommendation:
A few sips of warm water can be taken before the meal.
Liquid – in the form of broth, soup or stew – is superior to plain water during the meal.
Ayurvedic Prescription for Every Meal:
Stomach contents after completing any meal should look like this:
1/4 Liquid (this includes the liquid that is in the solid food)
(Remember there is fluid in your food because it is often cooked with water.)
Point of Clarification:
AMA throughout the context of this coaching session does not refer to the American Medical Association. It primarily refers to the sticky, toxic, unhealthy accumulations which are produced with chronic indigestion. There are other Ayurvedic connotations associated with ama which have their proper place in this same discussion and were referred to above.
Did you ever wonder HOW?:
Did you ever wonder how the ‘8 glasses a day’ recommendation was supposed to be applicable to everyone living under the sun?
How is it that the 90 pound ballerina should drink the same amount as the 6’7″, 350 lb. football player?
It’s always good to be skeptical, in a healthy way, toward any one-size fits-all approach where it concerns your health. Because if you take it to heart and put it into daily practice, you can imagine the imbalances that can quickly, or slowly, emerge which may quite adversely affect your health for years.
I. There are numerous cleansing programs which The Health Coach has performed over many years. Some of these excellent programs require drinking copious amounts of water to support the cleansing process. In these cases, drinking extra water is the only way to properly conduct the cleanse and, therefore, highly recommended. A great majority of these programs also recommend a significantly reduced dietary regimen so that there are fewer meals to eat and much less food taken overall during the duration of the program. Hence, the unwanted ama is not produced since there is very little food intake throughout the course of the cleanse process.
II. There are other instances when it may be entirely appropriate to imbibe additional amounts of water during a healing process. These ought to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by both the healthcare practitioner and client alike in order to determine appropriateness and efficacy.
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2012 The Health Coach
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