For most of us, there is nothing nicer than waking up to the smell of brewing coffee. Sipping slowly while contemplating what the day has in store…and of course the kick afterwards is a nice bonus! It’s a great way to start the day. But have you thought about what your body really needs at that time of the day? Nope, not caffeine…something more natural. You guessed it: Water.
To understand why, we need take a look at Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)*. In TCM, the body functions according to a meridian clock (pictured below). In Western society we are largely unaware of our body’s rhythms and in the long-term this creates an imbalance, causes mood swings and “bad days”, and eventually disease. A great example of the meridian clock is the liver. The liver cleanses blood and processes waste between the hours of 1-3am. Ideally you should be in bed asleep so that the liver can do its job properly. If you have had a late meal before bed, or are at a pub finishing your last drink at that time, it becomes much harder – the liver becomes sluggish and inefficient, unable to fulfil its task of flushing toxins as well as it should.
For the sake of this article, we will focus on the hours of 5-7 am – the time of the large intestinal activity. Throughout the night the gall bladder, liver, and lungs have completed their cleansing and expulsion of toxins in the body (some of you may wake up with a cough – a direct result of the lung waste expulsion between 3-5am). At 5am, the large intestine begins its process of elimination. All the toxins from the night’s cleansing need to be removed from the body, with room to be made for the daily food intake. Hence the reason most people need a bowel movement first thing in the morning.
In order to assist the body in the most efficient way, a glass of warm water with lemon is the best possible thing to drink. Why not caffeine? For one thing, caffeine is a diuretic, which draws water away from your colon and directs it towards your kidneys and bladder. What the body needs is water to assist the large intestine with its morning routine.
The more water you drink first thing, the faster your body will flush out toxins so it’s really up to you how much do you want to help your body achieve this.
According to TCM, water at room temperature is best. Cold water hinders the digestive process (digestive fire, in Ayurvedic terms), leading to toxin build-up in the small intestine. Ever had cramps after drinking cold water on an empty stomach? Cold water is a shock to the system first thing in the morning, as the body has to use energy to regulate the temperature. Warm/hot water is preferable as it reduces stomach acid, aids digestion, and flushes toxins from the system more rapidly.
The health benefits of lemons are many. Lemons balance the PH in the body and although acidic, it becomes an alkaline once it is metabolised. They are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium, and help to keep the breath fresh. Your morning dose of lemon water encourages the liver to produce bile, giving your metabolism a great boost. Do be careful to avoid drinking too much lemon water however, as it can have an abrasive effect on tooth enamel. But that is pretty much the only downside, and the positives most definitely outweigh the negatives.
Last but not least: Skin. Our largest organ is the first to display the effects of diet and lifestyle. Teas and coffees have a dehydrative effect on the skin, making fine lines more noticeable, causing skin to sag. Water, of course, will hydrate your skin and give it a plumped-up, glowing appearance. This is something well-known throughout the entertainment industry….drinking lemon water as opposed to coffee to get the face camera-ready is something models and actresses have been doing for years. I put it to the test to see whether it would make me look and feel better. I am pleased to say that it did. Within a week my skin looked more radiant, and I felt a lot more energetic, possibly due to the fact that I avoided the caffeine crash which is inevitable at about 11am, requiring a second and third cup to keep going!
This is definitely something I am going to add to my regimen, at least in the morning. Who knows how long I can stay away from my favourite caffeinated beverage, but I really love the effect it has on my overall well-being.
Thanks for reading, and best of health to you.
*In my next blog, I will be looking at the Chinese Meridian Clock in more detail.