Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Where's My Water?

Wherever we go in this world, it's like an internationally agreed tradition to serve a glass of water/beverage with food. Be it at restaurants, parties or family dinners. Even I was brought up with this tradition. We are taught to offer a glass of drink to guests and we do the same when we visited others. Recently, I was told that it's not advisable to drink water 30 minutes before a meal, during a meal and at least 30 minutes to 1 hour after a meal. I have seen people who follow this religiously and people who claim it as a nonsense. I love to break traditions and being the curious girl, of course I had to do my research on this topic. First of all, I just thought about it with the basic science and yoga knowledge that I already had. These are some of the points that I can think of
  1. According to yogic science, digestion is associated with fire element. So can you imagine putting out the fire with the water that you drink while eating.
  2. Digestion starts at the mouth due to the presence of salivary amylase to hydrolyze starch. Digestion of food would not be possible without the presence of enzymes. Just like adding water to a juice concentrate, when you drink water while eating, the enzymatic juices in the mouth, stomach and intestines are diluted. 
  3. Diluted enzymes slow down digestion or you are left with incomplete digestion leading to heartburn and bloating. In the case of incomplete digestion, the nutrients and minerals available from the food are not completely utilized.
Then I began my research on ayurvedic guidelines of diet and eating habits. I came across Charaka Samhita. I was stunned. It contains amazing ayurvedic texts on diagnosis of a human body and diseases, remedies, preparation of medicines and special therapy. Now let's get back to the topic. Apparently, only half of the stomach should be filled with food, another one quarter should be filled with water from fruits and vegetables and the remaining quarter of the stomach should empty. If you really feel thirsty while eating, you can take a few sips of plain water during a meal. Cold and flavored drinks reduces the digestive fire, and reduces activity of enzymes at low temperature. This leads to incomplete digestion and accumulated toxins in the body.

Well I can't say this will be applicable to everyone because weather conditions, climate, physical activity level and type of food consumed also play major roles. Efficiency of digestion also may vary from person to person due to nutrition level, lifestyle, stress level and eating habits. I always stick to my master's words. "Listen to your body". Eat when you're hungry, drink when you're thirsty and sleep when your're sleepy. The moment you stop listening to your body and begin to go beyond your limits, you start to experience illness and pain.

~M~