Hot Water and digestion

“The Chinese and Japanese drink hot tea with their meals, not cold water. Maybe it is time we adopt their drinking habit while eating”. This is a message that is doing the rounds where it talks about heart attacks.

This is a warning for those ice water fiends. Having a glass of iced water after your meals has been declared a negative intake. It says that the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just eaten and slow down the digestion. Once this ‘sludge’ reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will then line the intestine, turn into fats and lead to other problems like obesity and cancer. The advice is to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal; a little warm water at least 15 minutes before you go to sleep will keep you cheerful and healthy say the pundits.

Our systems, rituals and traditions were based on sound logic and health aspects were taken seriously even in the balancing of dishes cooked for a meal.

Okay! It is the fashion, taken from the West, that anything that the Japs and Chinese do is fashionably the ‘in’ thing to follow. People have forgotten that it was also the Indian habit to drink warm/hot water with meals—have you noticed that the Pandits and Sastrigals, who eat at Shraddams and other ritual meals, always ask only for hot water. Sukku (dry ginger)  water was the prescribed antacid and liberally consumed by all.

The custom was to drink water from earthenware pots in which cardamom and a dash of dry ginger was added. dabaraWater was also avoided with meals…only the pariseshanam (A ritual where a palmful of water is sprinkled three times around the platter of food )  before and after  eating was performed by drawing a line of water boundary around the banana leaf or eating plate.  This was to prevent insects from creeping into the food. Water was advisedly drunk only half an hour after you got up from the meal. This prevented the digestive juices from being diluted.

Food was always eaten hot and  cold food was consumed only on picnics or while travelling. For long travels sattu ma was taken and mixed with water and eaten along with fruits. Leftover food was never eaten and only after refrigerators came in did this habit enter our system. Society was so beautifully structured that you did not throw away the leftovers but fed it to the poor who came in the night asking for alms or animals like cows and dogs.

The  days in a fortnight of the waxing and waning of the moon’s paksha also had an impact on the digestive process and energy levels in our systems…therefore there was fasting, palaharams or fruit or a light meal. Specific vegetables were prescribed for those days. These fasts were implemented by linking them to religious beliefs and deities.

Sandal, castor oil and dried ginger were important ingredients in quick remedies for digestion.ginger

Alas we have set aside all those customs and depend on Gelusil, Digene, Enos, Ranitidine and Omez to set our stomachs right. In Tamil we have a saying ‘Kan ketta Pin Surya namskaram‘. What is the use of doing the powerful Surya-namaskar yoga after the eyes have been irrevocably damaged?

It is ‘healthy’ to note that an awareness—I agree started by the West—is now being created for our system of eating, treating and curing. The derogatory references to ‘jadi booti’ or roots and herbs and ‘Patti vaidyam’ Grandma’s medicines are no longer heard in protest when it is administered by the older generation. Even many Allopathy doctors in India are asking patients to remedy eating habits along the old regimes by eating traditional grains and ingredients.

All news about health, eating tips and good living habits are most welcome. It is also good to check out the resonance that these tips have to our habits and customs and then adopt them.

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
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14 Responses to Hot Water and digestion

  1. Rummuser says:

    You are quite right in pointing out that many old customs are based on hard logic. In the modernisation/westernisation process, we tend to look down on those things and I would call it arrogance. Both of us knew one otherwise nice man suffering from this pseudo complex. I found it amusing that towards the end of his troubles and before he shifted to Bangalore he reverted to almost everything that he had been against.


    • padmum says:

      In our generation too there have been quite a few volte faces!! I am looking forward to seeing 180 degree turnarounds in the next gen. If we are alive and kicking I will remind you of this!!


  2. Delirious says:

    My understanding of the Chinese tradition of drinking hot water is that they believe you shouldn’t change your core body temperature. They never drink ice water. I can still remember when I was a missionary in Taiwan, even in the midst of the hottest days of the summer, people would offer us steaming hot water.
    Our old wives’ tales tell us, and my doctor has agreed, that if a person craves ice water, they are probably anemic.


  3. padmum says:

    Delirious..thanks so much for that info for my hard disk.


  4. blackwatertown says:

    Cold – not ice – water beforehand to take the edge off the appetite. Then – as you say – warm drink after – though not too thick or milky.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Grannymar says:

    I cannot drink more than two sips of cold water before I am cold to the core. I can and will drink hot water by the kettleful.


  6. Rohit says:

    Interesting you covered this topic. I confess I have had this habit of drinking water (doesn’t matter hot or cold) right after food…but now I need to start working on getting rid of it harder!


  7. fromthericefields says:

    Well written article ,I enjoyed reading it .


  8. Andrea says:

    Everyone’s bioforms operates differently. In fact I personally cannot take in anything hotter than my body temperature including water without negative effects. Broad generalizations of the needs of 7million+ people shouldn’t be made.


  9. health says:

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe that this amazing site needs a great deal more attention.
    I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the info!


  10. mansi says:

    cold means room temperature or iced water? Indians always drink water which is cool in room temperature. Normal temperature water is most suitable for human body for all seasons exclude winter season. water with ice is harmful and hot water is also abnormal drink. If you are healthy person than always drink water which is normal. Naturally we are human… isn’t it. If water is clean and pure or pathogens free or drinkable than drink it on natural temperature.


    • padmum says:

      Mansi…thank you so much for your valuable comment. I still think that water out of an earthen pot is the best glass of water to drink! Sadly, it is not practical as we have to change the pit regularly.mthe taste of water from a Surai from Delhi is still an evocative memory!


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