Chinese medicine sees water as the foundation for all living. The meridians are often classified as the waterways or water channels of our bodies and many of the most antique points all have names pertaining to water.
Water, as seventy-five percent of our bodies, plays a huge role in all of our systems. It is the foundation of our blood, the moisture, and lubrication of our joints, the tears we cry and it filters the toxins from our body. Water, in its abundant and diverse roll in the body, also influences our digestion and metabolism.
The digestive process is a rather complicated one and starts with what we put in our mouths. In fact, digestion starts with the first bite of that tasty pastry that we couldn't help but snag on a trip to the store. Our mouth at 98.6 degrees holds a warm place for the food to soften as we add moisture, our saliva, and pressure, chewing, to break our food into little tiny pieces. As our food moves down into our belly the hydrochloric acid is anxiously anticipating the savor of whatever yummy meal we decide to send its way.
How Metabolism Works:
Metabolism is something that works on a time system. We want our metabolism to work at a nice clip and help our bodies to utilize the energy we feed it so that we can work and play hard and if you like to eat like I do then we certainly want it to work fast enough so that we can feed it regularly with tasty morsels of delicious delight.
Both metabolism and digestion work best when they are working in a warm environment. Think about how you feel when you are sitting on the beach on a nice warm day versus if you are walking around in the middle of a blizzard. Being at the beach we can run around in flip flops and shorts whereas in the winter we have to bundle up to our eyes just to stay warm. The cold, like winter, makes everything contract. We want to move away from the cold, get out of the cold, retreat from the cold.
The internal workings of the body work in very much the same way. While the ice coldness of a drink can feel very refreshing on a hot day we have to remember that the body is very open and receptive and moving beautifully when it is warm. If we add ice cold water to the system everything will begin to contract, slow down, and retreat.
Drinking Ice Water on Metabolism
Ice cold water, cold food like raw vegetables and treats like ice-cream will cause the stomach to slow down and the vessels of the stomach to contract. This contraction, while momentary, can still cause the digestion to slow itself down. This slowing down could cause the stomach to have food stagnation or over time what we call cold in the stomach.
What happens when the stomach is cold and slows down? The stomach is responsible for ripening and rotting the food. It then takes this broken down food and distributes it around the body. If the stomach is moving slowly and feels contracted, this food may stay there, take too long being digested and then getting fermented causing gas, bloating, belching, and aching. Additionally, if the body is not absorbing the nutrients often enough and in a timely manner then there can be a backup in the system. Perhaps constipation and a feeling of being swollen.
It's important to note that having one glass of ice water is not going to make you fat. Ice water on the system, long term however, can play a role in how your body digests and ultimately how your metabolism functions. The constant use of cold foods will cause the body's system to slow down, the metabolism will not be as affective and we can start to see food stasis, constipation and swelling of the body where there is an accumulation of fluids under the skin, or something we call dampness.
To keep our digestion and metabolism working in an industrious and stellar fashion you should do your best to avoid too much consumption of ice cold water. Start to train your body to drink room temperature water in between meals or 30 minutes after a meal as to not dilute the gastric juices while they are in full swing.
If you are dying for a little ice-cream in the summer, try to move the ice-cream around in your mouth for a little while to let it warm up before you swallow. You can take your yogurt out of the fridge for 10 minutes before you eat it to help warm it slightly before you consume it. Additionally, try to have warm foods and drinks with any meal that is cold and raw so that too much cold doesn't go in to the system at once.
We certainly don't live in a perfect world and there are many temptations to quench our thirsts and desires, however, being conscious of what you consume is half the battle. Enjoy your life and your food but be kind to your digestion in the process. We may not all be able to live at the beach year round, but if you are kind, your belly certainly can!
[credits]Photo Credit: Redwood Photography[/credits]
This post was guest written by Acupuncturist – Autumn Bear
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