If you've been in the clinic, or read some of my previous posts, you may have noticed that I strongly advocate the consumption of warms foods and drinks. That isn't to say you should never eat cold things, there is a time and place for cool and raw foods and drinks, but don't you want to know how it may be impacting your digestion?
It is very often recommended by chinese medicine practitioners that people avoid consuming cold or raw foods and that foods should be warm and cooked to optimize digestion. There are several reasons for this. The first is that foods that are cold or raw may require more energy for your body to digest and assimilate, this means that it may but a strain on your digestive function. The second is that the enzymes used to aid digestion work at your bodies normal temperature. If you eat very cold foods or drinks, it can decrease the temperature in your stomach and decrease the activity of enzymes in breaking down food. This is especially important with proteins. The enzymes required to denature proteins get slow at colder temperatures. This means your food won't break down as quickly. In TCM speak, eating cold or raw foods puts strain on the Spleen and Stomach, can cause food stagnation, qi deficiency, damp stasis, cold retention and can deplete digestive function over time. Have you ever eaten a big meal, with a huge glass of iced water and find yourself heavy and bloated after? You might be less bloated if you skipped the ice water! There's ways to off-set some of these concerns. Do you ever eat sushi? That pickled ginger served with your fish does more than cleanse your palate, it warms and invigorates your digestion!
So what are some of the physical signs that your digestion is being impacted by too many cold foods and drinks?