Nourishing Life #1:
Drink Hot Water : The easiest way to improve your digestion and energy levels
By far the simplest advice I can give to anyone with poor digestion or low energy is to switch to drinking hot water instead of cold. The benefits are obvious, tangible and immediate.
In China, drinking hot water is a given. Second nature to 1.3 billion people. Aside from drinking cold beer, you’ll find Chinese people avoid drinking cold drinks in favour of hot. Meals in China are often served with one dish that is a soup or broth so the stomach is warmed up ready to digest the food it is about to receive.
The rationale for this common sense behaviour is simple. Get ready to slap your own forehead.
Our core body temperature is 37℃ which the body regulates by making and releasing heat through burning energy and sweating. We help ourselves by putting on clothes, turning on the heating or taking clothes off and opening the windows.
This is common sense and second nature to us all - correct?
Why then, would we choose to make life much harder for our body by pouring up to 2 litres a day of cold water into it? *
Cold Tap Water
Household taps dispense water at a chilly 7℃. Cold water cools our body down and requires that we burn more energy just to stay warm. In other words, by drinking cold water or other cold liquids you are slowing your metabolism down and making it harder for your body to function properly.
If you were a car, you would be driving with the handbrake on.
Forehead slapped? Here comes another one.
Once we have swallowed our food we have the luxurious privilege of forgetting all about it until it comes out again and gets flushed away. We take this for granted and are blissfully unaware of our digestive tract silently working its magic.
Only when we get gurgling, pain and bloating do we stop and pay attention.
Our digestive tract - from throat to stomach to bowel - is lined with ‘smooth muscle’. Smooth muscle contracts to propel food along and also protects our internal organs against the strong forces of these contractions. Like our other bodily functions smooth muscle needs to be warm to work at its best. You can see where this is going....
Imagine the feeling of diving into a swimming pool.
That sudden moment of shock where your heart ends in your mouth and all your muscles tense up.
“How’s the water?”
Actually it’s not. Most pools in the UK operate at about 28℃.
And your drinking water from the tap at 7℃ or milk from the fridge at 4℃. Ouch.N
So....next time your digestion starts complaining instead of asking,
“What did I eat?”
A better question might be:
“Did I just give my smooth muscle a nice warm bath or a freezing cold shower?”
Take the handbrake off.
Switching to hot water will likely be a revelation to you if you have poor digestive health, low energy levels or poor circulation.
But please, please don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself. Make the switch and take the handbrake off for 7 days. See what a big difference it makes when you help your body in such a simple way.
If you are full of energy and have the digestion of an iron horse then please. please ignore this advice - you are clearly doing something right. Instead, share this with someone you know who might benefit.
This article forms part of a series on 'Nourishing Life'. The series draws on traditional Chinese health cultivation practices, known as yang sheng, and aims to make them accessible and easy to integrate into a healthier lifestyle.
*For cold water you can read - smoothies, fruit juices, cold milk on cereal, ice cream , milkshakes, beer, coke etc.