With increasing temperatures, dehydration is more of a risk at this time of year. Do you sit down for dinner and drink a full glass of tea before you even start to eat your meal? If you are waiting to rehydrate at meals, you are doing your body a disservice on two fronts. First, waiting until you feel thirsty to hydrate yourself is never a good idea. Fluid intake should be consistent and spread throughout your day – and yes, pure water is what your body needs. If you are waiting until you feel thirsty, then you are allowing your body to get low enough in fluids to trigger “thirst.” Second, by drinking large amounts of cold liquid at meal time you are disrupting normal digestion on two levels. One, the digestive enzymes and fluids of the stomach are diluted with large volumes of fluid. This decreases your body’s ability to breakdown the constituents of your meal into the absorbable units that are required. Undigested food travels further down the digestive tract to the awaiting flora of the large intestine. The bacteria, though necessary, will take advantage of this food source and the likely result will be gas, bloating, and a sense of heaviness. Two, the ice-cold beverage that you are drinking causes the stomach muscles to contract – think about how your muscles react when you jump into cold water. The stomach muscles need to be relaxed in order to carry out their function of food agitation and mixing. Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated and energized all summer.
Jonathan Powell, ND