What if you could ensure optimal digestion at every meal? No bloating, no heartburn, no abdominal pain and increased nutrient absorption.
There are many factors that are involved in digesting a meal well. Portion size, thoroughly chewing your food, the way you are sitting, how fast you are eating, etc.
But what if I told you that the drink that accompanies your meal also plays a huge role in how you digest it?
Hot vs. Cold. In Ayurveda, the 5000 year old North Indian science of life, they believe if you consume cold beverages you weaken the “digestive fire” that energizes your digestive system inhibiting you to get properly nourished from food. On the other hand drinking hot or warm beverages stoke this fire and stimulates digestion.
To drink or not to drink? You could also argue that drinking too much fluid wether it be hot or cold will over-dilute stomach acid and impair digestion as well. Because of this many believe you shouldn’t drink anything at all during a meal.
Drinking before a meal. Drinking water a half hour before a meal has been said to aid in digestion and even help with weight loss. By giving you a sense of fullness before you even start eating, drinking the glass of water before the meal may make you less likely to overeat.
Spiced teas are another way to go and my personal favorite. Something as basic as steeping fresh ginger in hot water to drink with your meal is one of the oldest and most common ways to stoke that “digestive fire”. The recipe I have designed below is sort of a combination of three different teas I like to make myself. They all benefit digestion so combining them made sense to me. It also tastes great.
- Ginger – warming, stimulates enzymes in the saliva which helps break down our food, improves circulation, increases energy, clears congestion.
- Turmeric – warming, anti-inflammatory.
- Black pepper – helps activate the curcumin in the turmeric which is responsible for turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties.
- Cumin, coriander & fennel seeds – good source of minerals and magnesium, helps prevent acid indigestion.
- Fresh lemon – helps to detoxify the liver.
- Raw honey – good for your immune system, high in antioxidants.
I know what you are thinking right now….but, I love ice water, an ice cold beer or chilled wine with my dinner. If you are in that category I invite you to notice how you feel at the end of a meal that you accompany an ice cold drink with. Then have a meal either drinking a warm beverage like ginger tea or nothing at all and compare it to the other meal. You may find no difference at all. You may see a dramatic difference. And if you do, you can choose to incorporate this practice into your daily routine as just one more thing you do to improve your health.
Do you have a preferred beverage to drink with meals? Why is this drink your go to? Do you love the flavor? Does it make you feel good? Does it cool you down or warm you up?
I would love to hear from you.
Tea For Digestion
- 2 cups Filtered water
- 1 - 1 in. piece Ginger peeled and grated (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 - 1 in. piece Turmeric peeled and grated (about 1 teaspoon) or (1/2 teaspoon powdered turmeric)
- 1/8 teaspoon about 6-8 each Black peppercorns, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon Cumin seeds crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon Coriander seeds crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon Fennel seeds crushed
- 1/2 Lemon I love using Meyer lemons for this, but a regular lemon also works great
- 2 teaspoons Raw honey
Combine the water, ginger, turmeric and dried spices in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat, strain and stir in the juice of half a lemon and the honey.
Enjoy while the tea is still warm on its own or with a meal to stoke your digestive fire.
Sarah Burchard is the author of The Healthy Locavore, a natural foods chef and experience host whose writing focuses on cooking, holistic health, supporting community and eating locally grown and made foods.