I love finding things to keep people healthy that don’t cost a thing. By far, I find that a conversation about water is one of the most valuable.
One of my favorite tests is the Tissue Mineral Analysis (TMA). We can analyze any tissue of the body for content and compare it to a group of “normals”, and we do this with hair as it is easy to obtain and painless.
The test measures the most common macro and micro nutrients and several heavy metals as well. If we see that minerals across the board are low or deficient, and that person is eating adequate calories and nutrients, we start to suspect absorption issues.
There are many reasons for poor absorption of nutrients such as irritable bowel disease, celiac issues, long term acid stopping meds, stress, frequent laxative usage, dysbiosis, and many many others. But one of the most common reasons I see malabsorption of nutrients is due to our habit of drinking water with our meals. This is what I call low hanging fruit.
Most people in the US generally consume their water with a meal. When we begin to eat, our stomach produces HCL, hydrochloric acid, which is at a ph of between 1 and 2, which then mixes with our stomach juices to form a ph of between 3 and 4. This highly acidic mixture gets worked into our food by the kneading action of our stomach in order to break our food down into smaller particles so that it can begin its journey through the intestinal tract for absorption. If we drink a large glass of water with a meal, that dilutes our gastric juices closer to a 7, the ph of water, and the process of breaking that food from larger pieces to smaller pieces stops.
Food will still go through us, but we can only absorb small pieces not large pieces of food, so even though we are eating, we can still become nutrient deficient. Nutrient deficiencies are the number one leading cause of dysfunction and thus ill health.
Now, if a glass of water was drunk a half hour BEFORE a meal, that water would be used to MAKE gastric juices instead, thereby increasing our ability to digest our food. By the same reasoning, dehydration may limit the amount of gastric juices produced, making digestion more difficult.
Travelers to other countries commonly find water is not offered with meals. Ideally, an appropriate beverage with a meal is a small amount of an acidic, preferably fermented, beverage such as Kombucha, wine, beer, kefir, or other ferments. Small amounts of certain teas or acidic juices are acceptable as well. Apertifs have evolved from herbs that assist with digestion.
Often a change in this one habit can make a considerable difference in the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from our food. This may also help with indigestion, bloating, heartburn, belching, and other associated digestive complaints.
Thank you for sharing your precious time with me. I hope this has been helpful.
All disease is the result of malnourishment.
Weston A. Price (1870-1948)
Food First Doc
Lolin Kathryn Hilgartner, DC, CNS
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