Besides the harmfulness of certain beverages themselves, the way in which they are consumed is also detrimental to health and well-being. Drinking with meals, drinking hot and cold beverages, and using drinks as substitutes for good nutrition are harmful drinking practices that should be avoided.
3.1 Drinking With Meals
Drinking while eating is such a common practice that restaurants don’t ask if you’ll have anything to drink but what you want to drink. If no beverage is ordered with the meal, then water is routinely supplied.
Drinking while eating is a harmful practice because the beverage dilutes the digestive juices of the stomach. Since fluids leave the stomach faster than solid food, beverages tend to carry out the digestive juices of the stomach and the stomach is left without sufficient juices to carry on its work.
Drinking with a meal also encourages poor chewing of the food since it is frequently washed down in a swallow of water or whatever. Normally food must be thoroughly mixed with saliva in the chewing process for it to be easily swallowed. Beverages replace the role of saliva in this respect, and permit the gulping of half-chewed food.
Beverages are usually incompatible with the food eaten as well. Fruit juices, for example, are often drunk with starchy foods (such as orange juice and toast). The acid in the fruit juices suspend the digestion of the starches and indigestion is guaranteed. Milk, another popular meal beverage, requires its own complex digestive environment since it is more properly a food than a drink. When drunk with sandwiches, breakfast or whatever, fermentation of the milk occurs in the stomach.
Beverages with the meal would never be used if people took the time to thoroughly chew their food. Washing food down and diluting the digestive juices with fluids always result in only partial digestion of the food.
If thirsty, beverages may be consumed twenty to thirty minutes before a meal. After a meal consisting of fruit, water can be taken within thirty minutes; after a starch meal, two hours should pass before drinking, following a protein or fat meal, a full four hours should elapse before fluids are taken. In general, if thirst occurs before these times, it indicates that salted, spiced or unsuitable foods were eaten at the meal and should be avoided in the future.
3.2 Hot and Cold Drinks: Injuring the Body
If you or someone you know likes to drink a hot cup of coffee or tea, try this simple experiment: take a tablespoon of the hot liquid, just as you would drink it, and pour it onto the bare stomach. Most likely, you’ll experience intense pain and perhaps some blistering.
Ask yourself this question: if the hot liquid does this to the outside of my stomach, what must it be doing to the delicate and sensitive tissues on the inside!
Hot drinks destroy the sensitive nerve endings in the tongue. They benumb the senses so that discrimination of taste is lost. They scar the esophagus and stomach lining. They disrupt body temperature and digestion. Any liquid above 104 degrees (Fahrenheit) should not be drunk.
Similarly, cold liquids also disturb digestion. In fact, an ice cold drink can completely halt the digestive process. The inside of your body is a delicate, well-controlled environment. Digestion proceeds at a proper pace when this environment is kept constant. Pouring a glass of ice water into the stomach is like taking cooking food from an oven and sticking it into a freezer. You can bet that the cooking process is going to be seriously suspended, and so is the digestive process suspended when cold beverages are drunk. Nerve endings are also numbed by intense cold just as they are numbed by high heat.
Drinking iced water or beverages over ice is a habit that has only been recently acquired by modern man. Why he must have ice cold drinking water from fountains is a mystery. No other animal will drink extra cold or extra hot liquids; they wait until they have reached room temperature.
Remember that the inside of the body is a hundred times more sensitive than the outside. Why should you pour burning or freezing liquids into your stomach? Like many habits, drinking hot or cold beverages seems very silly and abnormal when you look at it in an unbiased way.
3.3 Drinking Instead of Nutrition
Another harmful drinking practice is using beverages as a substitute for proper nutrition. Drinks such as alcoholic beverages and soda drinks are full of empty calories. They supply little nutrition in the diet, but many calories. All too often, children use soft drinks for an energy lift instead of wholesome foods. Adults drink beer or mixed drinks in place of good nutrition.
Concentrated fruit juices are consumed instead of the whole fruit. Milk drinks like shakes and malts are downed in place of a wholesome lunch. It’s all too easy to fill the stomach up with needless beverages instead of eating a proper meal.
The problem with many of these beverages is that they so easily become habitual. People drink morning coffee instead of eating fruit for their liquid requirements. They have their soda drink every afternoon or their few bottles of beer. In little time, they have established a beverage habit that has replaced the good habits of nutrition and wholesome foods.
3.4 Is Drinking A Natural Process?
To suggest that drinking may be an unnatural or at least an unusual practice may seem foolish. After all, everybody drinks—or do they?
Not actually. There are some people who go for days or weeks without drinking a single glass of water or taking a swallow of any beverage. These people also eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables which have a naturally high water content and they eat no salt or other thirst-creating spices in their food. Consequently, they get all the fluids they need from fresh foods and never feel thirsty or have the need for a drink of water. This is not speculation or heresay; it is an observation of my own personal experience as well. During the last six months, for example, I doubt if I drank more than six glasses of fluids. I did eat large amounts of melons and many other fresh juicy fruits. These foods supplied me with an abundance of fluids or water from their tissues. Many other people who eat a similar diet of chiefly fresh fruits and vegetables also report little or no need for drinking fluids.
The animals that have the greatest need for drinking are carnivores or meat-eaters. Their high-acid meat diet requires frequent flushing of the kidneys to remove the waste products of the meat, and the concentrated nature of their meat diet usually means they do not get enough water in the foods they eat. These animals have lapping tongues so that they can get the water into the mouth quite easily. Man has no lapping tongue mechanism. He has no snout to put into the water to drink.
In fact, man is so poorly equipped to drink water that he invented the drinking cup so he could move the water in his mouth. The truth is that man has very little natural equipment for drinking. Man is not a drinking animal. To be sure, we can swallow water and we can catch some in our hands for this purpose. When compared to all the other drinking animals, however, man is short on the physiological necessities to facilitate drinking. He is like the ape in this respect—another animal that rarely drinks water in its natural habitat.
This is not to say that we should not drink water. Obviously, there are times when sufficient high-fluid foods may not be available to eat and we will need to supplement our fluid sources from water directly. During fasting specifically is the need greatest for drinking water since no foods are being eaten. Then, too, if we eat a conventional American diet with its high amounts of uric acid, toxins, salt, and other thirst stimulators, we will have to drink perhaps as much as the eight glasses of water a day recommended by certain nutritionists.
But the point is this: if you eat a natural diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, you will rarely experience the desire to drink. Usually, when thirst arises and the individual is not in a fasting state or in a very hot environment, then it is due to an improper choice of foods.