We all know we need to drink water to be healthy. In trying to reach the 8 glasses a day goal, you will often see people downing tall glasses of ice cold water. Now this might sound refreshing, especially in the summer. But, to truly hydrate your body, sipping warm water all throughout the day is the most effective way to hydrate yourself. This is well known in Ayurveda, which is an ancient healing system that translates to the science of life. Ayurveda is filled with fabulous, insightful guidelines to lead you towards a balanced, healthy, happy state of being and living. One daily activity that is encouraged to bring you closer to your balanced, healthy state is drinking warm water with lemon first thing in the morning. This one simple act has so many benefits. I'm going to share with you a few of my favorite reasons.
1. Aids Digestion and Metabolism. Warm water helps stimulate blood flow to the intestines, which helps in promoting peristalsis, or getting the bowels moving, which leads to regular elimination. The atomic composition of lemon juice is similar to saliva and the hydrochloric acid of digestive juices. Adding the lemon juice will also encourage the liver to produce bile -- an acid that is required for digestion. For extra digestive and metabolism boost add some fresh grated ginger root or a pinch of ginger powder.
2. Detoxify and Cleanse Your System. Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials and accumulated toxins (ama) in the digestive tract. Lemons increase the rate of urination in the body. This leads to an increased rate at which toxins toxins are released, which can help keep your urinary tract healthy. The citric acid in lemons helps maximize enzyme function and stimulates the liver, which aids in detoxification.
3. Balances pH Levels. Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods for the body. Sure, they are acidic on their own, but inside our bodies they’re alkaline (the citric acid does not create acidity in the body once metabolized). Lemons contain both citric and ascorbic acid -- weak acids which are easily metabolized from the body allowing the mineral content of lemons to help alkalize the blood. Disease states occur when the body pH is acidic. Drinking lemon water regularly can help to remove overall acidity in the body, including uric acid in the joints, which is one of the common causes of pain and inflammation.
4. Hydrates Your Lymph System. Warm water and lemon juice supports the immune system by hydrating and replacing fluids lost by your body. When your body is deprived of water, your lymphatic system (the drains of our body) can become congested, resulting in a back flow of toxins in your body -- the result of which you might feel in any area of your body, like feeling tired, sluggish, decreased immune function, constipation, brain fog, skin breakouts, and hormonal imbalances.
5. Boosts Your Immune System. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) found in lemons demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects and is used as complementary support for asthma, allergies, and other respiratory symptoms. Lemons also contain saponins, which show antimicrobial properties that may help keep cold and flu at bay. Lemons are also high in vitamin C, which is great for fighting colds. They’re high in potassium, which stimulates brain and nerve function.
6. Decongestant. Sipping warm water can bring relief from colds, coughs, and sore throats. People who have throat and nasal congestion can benefit greatly from drinking warm water as it will moisten and lubricate the channels to release congestion more easily. Lemons can also help reduce the amount of phlegm produced by the body. For added effect, add a teaspoon of honey which helps as an expectorant.
7. Clear Skin. The vitamin C component in lemons as well as other antioxidants helps combat free radical damage, decreasing wrinkles and blemishes. Vitamin C is vital for healthy glowing skin, while its alkaline nature has been shown to kill some types of bacteria known to cause acne. Since lemon water also purges toxins from your blood, it will help keep your skin clear from the inside out.
More water tips for optimal health:
Ayurveda says that cold water should be avoided, especially while eating food. Cold water leads to the Agni, or digestive fire, getting diminished -- which may lead to improper digestion and toxins accumulating in the body. After a workout or exercise, when we are trying to cool our system down, some cold or room temperature water can help to cool the body down.
In the morning, squeeze the juice of 1/2 an organic lemon into your cup, fill with half hot water and half cool or room temperature water, so that it is warm but not scalding. Sip and enjoy the energizing fresh start to your day.
Melissa Hill, FDN-P