I had dinner with a friend tonight, and when the waitress asked us if we'd like some water, I said yes, but with no ice and some lemon, please. After she left, my friend asked me "Why do you order your water with no ice?"
It's funny, but no one has asked me that question before. But the question is a good one, and it opens the door to a discussion on two subjects: How to eat with the seasons, and how to maintain a healthy digestive system. You see, in Chinese medicine - which is more than just acupuncture -- there's a whole school of thinking that says that the digestive system is considered to be where health and disease begin. When I first heard this, I thought it was an overstatement, but the more I've considered it over the years, the more it makes sense. Let me break it down for you:
Consider this: you eat a carrot. A carrot is a root of a plant. You take that root of a plant, and you turn it into yourself. Your body uses it to make blood, and skin, and immune cells, and enzymes and everything else that constitutes your body. It's also true of the potato that you eat, the chicken or the eggs or anything else. That's what you're giving your body as the raw materials to keep renewing and growing everything in your body. If that digestive process is strong, then that whole transformation from "root" to "self" will be a smooth one. If it's weak, then over time the cells, tissues and organs of your body will be less healthy, because they were not given fully processed "raw materials" to work with, and so the "end product" will be of a lower quality. Since that end product is your body, this is not a good thing!
In this light, it makes perfect sense that the digestive system is key to a long, healthy life. But what does that have to do with no ice in the water? Well, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM), the stomach is considered to be a cauldron where the food is "cooked", so to speak. It needs to be kept warm in order for it to fully "cook" the food. If you're putting ice into the cauldron, it will cool down, and therefore work less efficiently. So that's why, unless it's a blistering hot day, I tend to drink my water at room temperature.
I'd love to hear from you if you found this information to be interesting or useful. Do you have digestive issues? Do you drink cold beverages? I'd be happy to have a dialogue with you about these things!