Drinking Liquids During Your Meals Can Impair Digestion
A few years ago my colon hydro-therapist asked me if I drink fluids while I eat. I said yes, of course. She then told me that I shouldn’t because my digestive system will not break down the foods properly. I’ll never forget that day because it came as a big shocker to me. What? I’ve been doing this most of my life and I had no idea it was unhealthy, even if it’s just water. And what’s even more strange is that as a kid I would rarely drink liquids during my meals. I was always the only one to leave my glass almost full without taking more than one or two sips. My parents would always be concerned about this and tell me to drink my juice / water / milk so I don’t choke on my food by not washing it down. It’s as if I instinctively knew not to do this as a child.
After my colonic I went home and did some research on this, and she was right. What I found is that while we eat, our stomachs are producing digestive enzymes and acids such as hydrochloric acid to break down foods. When we drink liquids while we’re eating our food, the acids get diluted and are unable to do break down foods properly. This leads to undigested chunks of food. And you don’t want bad digestion because it can cause a myriad of unwanted symptoms such as weight gain, heart burn, crazy cravings, and confusion to your body’s “full meter”.
A study by researchers at Virginia Tech supports this idea, finding that dieters who drank two eight-ounce glasses of water before meals lost more weight than those who didn’t.
I also think many digestive issues people experience is due to the modern, careless way of eating foods. Aside from the speed in which people scarf down their meal, they drink liquids as an aid to gulp down huge amounts of inadequately chewed foods. The revolting thought of those hot dog contests just came to mind. If you are chewing adequately (creating saliva), you should be able to eat comfortably without lots of liquids. Allow your saliva to naturally help you swallow your food.
Drink Water Before or After a Meal
It’s a good idea to drink water or other liquids 20-30 minutes before eating solid foods and / or 30 minutes after. Your focus should be to hydrate yourself between meals. Through experience, I’ve learned that drinking a large glass of water about 30 minutes before a solid meal actually improves the digestive process and increases enzyme activity during the consumption of the solid meal. I feel better after a meal when I do this. You can also eat high water-content foods such as citrus fruits, or cucumber, romaine or celery before your meal. Doing this also helps the digestive process and dilutes the more dense solid foods.
On a raw foods diet, it’s easy for me to stay hydrated. The first half of my day I normally only consume juices and smoothies. I start my day out with a warm 32 oz jar of water with lemon, an hour later a juice, and then 2-3 hours later a large smoothie. But if you eat cooked foods, you will need to drink a lot of water, so stay hydrated with lots of water between meals.
Don’t Drink Ice Cold Water
It’s a common practice at restaurants to serve ice cold water to their customers, even if they don’t order a drink. This is also another big mistake for your digestion. It is a nutritional fact that infusions of iced anything on a stomach full of food will constrict the tiny ducts which secrete gastric juices, impairing digestion and permitting putrefaction and fermentation to take place. By the time temperature of the stomach contents returns to normal, it is too late for proper digestion. Also, while drinking cold water, your body uses energy to heat up the cold water to body temperature. This diverts energy that should be used for digestion. When you are eating, you want all your energy directed at breaking down food so your body can easily assimilate the nutrients and eliminate waste.
Take animals for instance. None of them seem to drink liquids or eat foods that are either very hot or very cold. Nature’s message is obvious and one to which we should give careful attention—we should avoid extreme hot and cold temperatures in our food and beverages.
Good digestion is a key to good health! Keep your drinks away from your food!
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